The auditorium shook with the powerful beating of the drums and strumming of guitars. The strong voices of the combined choruses sang an arrangement of traditional Puerto Rican bombas. This was the beginning of the annual music and dance performances in Música y Cultura.
The Música y Cultura assembly, which has been running for 11 years, provides exposure to a variety of cultures through the use of music and dance. By being able to show pride in one’s own heritage and learn about others, students gathered in informative and entertaining assemblies on Friday, June 2.
The assemblies took place during F and G-blocks in the Robert Dubbs Auditorium. Over 100 high school students performed alongside professional dancers, Grammy-award winners and skilled musicians from different countries.
The high school orchestra and combined choruses performed in the first piece, which was traditional bombas from Puerto Rico. Bombas, or drums, are the essential part of the piece, as they provide the beat usually danced to by performers. Junior Sophie Morganstern led the choruses while she sang a solo. In the background, students vibrantly played on drums, guitars and string instruments.
The second piece was Yambu, which originated in Haiti. Yambu includes a variety of instruments, such as the guitar, violin and keyboard. The drummers in the world music classes were excited to learn this piece. Students participated by dancing, drumming and singing.
The third piece was a Brazilian styled performance. It began by students walking down the aisles in the auditorium, while playing the drums. They proceeded to walk down in front of the stage where they swayed back and forth, in tune with the rhythm of the piece.
The fourth piece was an Afro-Cuban music and dance. Traditionally, the piece is just voices and percussion. The song performed was composed by a Cuban musician. The piece was performed by the mixed choruses, directed by music and choral teacher Michael Driscoll; a drumming class, directed by music teacher Carolyn Castellano and Performing Arts Curriculum Coordinator Kenny Kozel; and the African and Latina Hip Hop Class, directed by Mayra Hernandez.
The performances were coordinated with the help of many skilled professionals: Lilian Aldama from Matanzas, Cuba – Dancer with Grupo Afrocuba de Matanzas; David Oquendo – Grammy nominated singer and guitarist from Havana, Cuba; Javier Limón – Five-time Grammy award winning singer, guitarist, composer and producer from Spain (and BHS parent); Joh Camara – Master dancer and percussionist from Mali, West Africa; Famoro and Missia Dioubate – Master balafon player and singer from Guinea, West Africa; Jean Appolon, master dancer and dance teacher from Haiti.