More than 500 persons atended the Classically Cuban concert on Sunday, December 8, 2013, beginning at 5:00 PM at FIU's Wertheim Performing Arts Center Concert Hall. Now in in its ninth year, the concert commemorated the 50th anniversary of the death of the prolific Cuban composer and pianist Ernesto Lecuona. El Nuevo Herald included the concert as one of the memorable moments in the Miami arts scene for 2013.
The program, selected by the Cuban collector and independent scholar Emilio Cueto, included some of Lecuona's lesser known but significant pieces, as well as a selection of his most popular songs. FIU professor, composer, and pianist Armando Tranquilino was in charge of the musical direction. This was the sixth year that Cueto and Tranquilino have collaborated to produce the concerts sponsored by the Cuban Research Institute.
Performing Lecuona's music were soprano Laura Martínez León, baritone Juan Mansilla, pianist Javier Sardiñas, and an accompanying ensemble composed of María Paulina García (piano), Pearl Fuentes (violin), and Zacharie Small (contrabass). Among Lecuona's most famous songs, the program featured the Afro-Cuban danza "La comparsa" (1912), the danzón "Siboney" (from La tierra de Venus, 1927), "Malagueña" (from the 1928 Spanish suite, Andalucía), the rumba "María la O" (from the 1930 zarzuela of the same title), and "Damisela encantadora" (from the 1935 zarzuela, Lola Cruz).
The concert also included music that Lecuona composed for the American cinema, such as "One More Tomorrow" (for the 1945 film with the same title) and "En una noche así / Another Night Like This" (for the 1946 film, Carnival in Costa Rica). Several pieces put to music the words of prominent poets from across the globe, like Heinrich Heine (1797–1856), Juan Clemente Zenea (1832–1871), Bonifacio Byrne (1861–1936), and Juana de Ibarborou (1892–1979).
The concert ended with Emilio Cueto's rendition of Lecuona's anthem for Colegio Belén in Havana, accompanied by Cueto's nephew, Matthew Quintino, a member of the class of 2020 of Belén in Miami.
Since 1994, CRI has sponsored the annual concert series Classically Cuban to celebrate the diverse musical traditions of Cuba and its diaspora. "This concert was very special because it was dedicated to the towering figure in twentieth-century Cuban music and his immense legacy for the music of Latin America, Spain, and the United States," said CRI Director Dr. Jorge Duany.
FIU's Latin American and Caribbean Center, Islas Canarias Café, Restaurant, and Bakery, Caldas Rum, ProTranslating, Radio Mambí, and Univisión América cosponsored the event.
Click here for videos and photographs of the concert.