The loud beat of the drum swirled with the cheers from the audience; Música y Cultura was underway.
People gathered in the Roberts-Dubbs Auditorium for the Música y Cultura performance to watch musicians and dancers celebrate Latin American, Caribbean and African culture through exciting song and dance.
The event began with Senior Erasmo De Falco welcoming the audience and introducing John Williams’s “Alma Llanera”, brought by the Advance Chamber Orchestra and the combined choruses. Performing with them was Carlos Capacho, a guest from Venezuela playing the cuatro, Venezuela’s national instrument.
The piece began with the upbeat, chirpy cuatro playing by itself, and slowly the other string instruments joined in, steadily overtaking the melody while maintaining an upbeat tone. Towards the end of the piece, the chorus’s voices harmonized with the string instruments, ending on a resounding note.
After that, De Falco came on stage again to introduce the next performance, explaining that much of the culture in Latin America has been influenced by Africa. With that, he introduced Di Da Di, a West African dance originating from the Fulani and Bambara people.
Joh Camara, a guest from Mali, choreographed the dance and played the drums with the Drumming and World Music classes. Another guest, Famoro Dioubate from Guinea, played the bala, a traditional instrument similar to the xylophone. The dance was performed by an Intermediate Dance class.
The performance focused heavily on the percussion, beginning with Camara playing by himself, before prompting a call and response with the other drummers. The bala joined in afterwards, providing a melody for the piece. Then, the dancers came on stage. The dancers, matching the drums of the song, were energetic, moving around the stage and clapping along with the beat.
After the curtains fell, the next piece began, a Cuban guaguanco, a type of music which combines aspects of African and Spanish music. The song, Consuelate Conmigo, had Anibal Cruz from Cuba as a vocalist and pianist, along with the Drumming and World Music class for the instrumentals and Advanced Dance classes.
Similar to the previous song, the piece began with its percussion providing a solid base for the song, and dancers and a vocalist joined in after some time. The song had an upbeat, casual feeling to it, and the dance accompanying this reflected the tone. The dancers twirled and circled around each other in a lively fashion.
Sophomore Marina Leal, a student from Brazil, introduced the next piece — a combination of Samba Reggae, Maracatu, and Samba, all different dance styles from Brazil. Brazilian guest Deraldo Ferreira choreographed the dance, arranged the music and participated by drumming and singing. The dance was performed by the Advanced Dance class and the Samba drumming group handled the drumming.
The percussion of this piece took a central role like many of the other pieces, as the performance began with Ferreira drumming, followed by a loud, coordinated beat by the rest of the drumming ensemble. The fast-paced, intense tone opening was paused by a light triangle beat and a softer voice, before the drums returned loudly and boldly.
The dancers shined when they formed a semi-circle on the stage, and had pairs do mini routines. The crowd cheered especially loudly when one dancer lifted another off the ground while spinning at the same time, wowing the members of the audience.
The next performance, Nadie Se Salva De La Rumba, was presented by the African, Latin, Hip Hop class and the Music Collective. The pair first introduced guest Anibal Cruz from Cuba and the ubiquity of the salsa across Latin America and the rest of the world.
The piano began alone with a playful melody, followed by the boisterous horned instruments and saxophones joining in. The dancers paired up and performed both in a larger group setting and with the focus shifted to a single pair of dancers on the stage. The dance melded naturally with the instrumentals, resulting in an exciting routine.
Finally, the last performance of the day was a mask dance originating from Guinea and Sierra Leone in West Africa, Si Lo Lei. The Music Collective was joined by Famoro Dioubate performing the bala and Missia Saran Dioubate with vocals.
The piece felt animated and spritely; the vocalist passionately sang, the bala moved clearly from one note to another and the other instrumentalists’ loud confidence added to the mood. After a series of solos, Missia Dioubate encouraged members of the audience to stand up, dance and participate in the vocals, adding to the celebratory and high-spirited mood.
On that note, Música y Cultura ended, having shown people aspects of Latin American, Caribbean and African culture, along with giving the audience a joyous and exciting experience.