Since 1994, the Cuban Research Institute (CRI) has sponsored a concert series to celebrate the diverse musical traditions of Cuba and its diaspora, bringing a broad spectrum of the greater Miami community to FIU. Each year, the concert focuses on a different theme and includes works by Cuban and other composers.
Last year's concert, titled The Essential Music of Cuba, featuring the Alonso Brothers, was held on Sunday, December 2, 2018, from 5:00 to 6:30 PM at the Wertheim Performing Arts Center on the FIU Modesto A. Maidique Campus. The cosponsors of the event were the FIU School of Music, the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center, the FIU Libraries, CasaCuba, and the Cuban-American Studies Association.
The Essential Music of Cuba was a two-piano extravaganza dedicated to the "Golden Era" of Cuban music and entertainment (mostly during the 1940s and 1950s), a time in Cuban history when the contagious Afro-Cuban rhythms of mambo, cha cha, bolero, son, rumba, and many more, flourished to international fame. Virtuoso pianists and Cuban brothers Orlay Alonso and Orlando Alonso performed a variety of Cuban styles from the late 19th century to the early 21st century. The program included popular songs in arrangements for two pianos:
- La camagüeyana (The Woman from Camagüey), Los delirios de Rosita (Rosita's Delights), and Los muñecos (The Dolls, 1877), by Ignacio Cervantes
- Mamá, son de la loma (Mother, They Come from the Hills, 1922), by Miguel Matamoros
- Malagueña (The Woman from Málaga, 1923), Siboney (1927), and ¡Y la negra bailaba! (And the Black Woman Danced! 1930), by Ernesto Lecuona
- El manisero (The Peanut Vendor, 1927), by Moisés Simons
- Mambo No. 5 (1949), by Dámaso Pérez Prado
- Mambo (from West Side Story, 1957), by Leonard Bernstein
- Oye como va (Listen How It Goes, ca. 1963), by Tito Puente
Equally talented, the Alonso Brothers dazzled the audience with their artistic exuberance and passionate expression. Having played the piano since they each were six years old, Orlando Alonso and Orlay Alonso both attended the National School of the Arts in Havana and earned degrees from Manhattan School of Music and Yale University, among several other prestigious institutions. As a duo, each brother brought his own signature style to the stage. Inspired by their communicative gifts, good humor, and polish, the Alonso Brothers shone with a charismatic stage presence that was a pleasure to behold.
Cuban-born pianist and conductor Orlando Alonso has established a flourishing international reputation through his orchestral and recital performances in North America, South America, Europe, and China. Noted for his challenging programs, artistic maturity, and versatility, Orlando Alonso has performed with many of the major orchestras in Cuba as well as North and South America, and has given recitals at Carnegie Hall in New York.
The New York Concert Review has praised Cuban-American pianist Orlay Alonso as a "rising young star" and "a real virtuoso" "committed to sharing every note with the audience." Equally at home with solo, chamber, and concerto repertoire, Orlay Alonso has captivated audiences across the globe with his elegance and intensity since his Carnegie Hall debut in 2003, and has graced the stages at some of the most prestigious concert halls in the United States, Canada, and Chile.
To view a video of the concert, click here
To view pictures of the concert, click here
To view the program, click here