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Getting into a true holiday spirit can be tough in South Florida, where palm trees, expansive beaches and balmy skies signal perpetual summer. Ever-earlier store décor and the incessant push to buy presents – more about commercialism than celebration – can make many of us feel more anxious than festive. Not to worry. Just squeeze in a trip to Miami’s Arsht Center, where City Theatre h..

One of the centerpieces of this year’s Art Week is not a static art work, and it is also one of the most sensuous and disorienting. Lebanese performance artist Tania El Khoury is producing her “Gardens Speak” for the week, courtesy of MDC Live Arts, a piece that has been applauded in cultural capitals throughout Europe and the United States. “It is a work,” she says, “that can only co..

Since its founding in 1996, City Theatre has been an important part of South Florida’s theatrical landscape, though the company’s visibility has always been highest in the month of June. That’s when its popular Summer Shorts festival takes place; for more than a decade, its high-profile venue has been the Carnival Studio Theater at Miami’s Arsht Center. Though the company founded by S..

If you were to predict who might become a nationally famous – OK, world-famous – multiplatform sex therapist, Dr. Ruth Westheimer would probably not be your first choice. Born in Germany in 1928 as Karola Ruth Siegel, the 4’7” Dr. Ruth seems more like the doting Jewish grandmother she is than a woman who used her nationally syndicated radio show, TV shows and 40-some books to help hun..

Actors’ Playhouse has been a musical powerhouse for much of its history. Launching its 30th anniversary season at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables, the company is revisiting some of that history with a new production of a made-for-South Florida favorite: Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s “Evita.” As it did in 2000 when recent Tony Award winner Rachel Bay Jones starred as Eva Duart..

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We are born. We live, have families, grow old. We die, leaving those who loved us to mourn. Playwright Thornton Wilder brilliantly captured the eternal verities of our journey through life in “Our Town,” his 1938 Pulitzer Prize-winning play about life, love and death in a small New Hampshire town at the turn of the 20th century. If you’re at all drawn to theater, you’ve probably ..

“Miami Motel Stories: Little Havana” written by Juan C. Sanchez, directed by Tamilla Woodard, and produced by Juggerknot Theatre Company, is a site-specific, immersive theater experience that interweaves narrative, performance, history and architecture. Nine short plays take place in nine hotel rooms on the second floor of the Tower Hotel, right off Calle Ocho on Seventh Street. Sanchez, ..

Artistic director and founder of Juggerknot Theatre Company, Tanya Bravo, had her first brush with immersive theater in New York City when she met director Tamilla Woodard. Working on the play “Broken City,” Bravo and other actors led audience members on a theatrical journey through the streets of the Lower East Side. “I was so blown away by the concept and the lines that were crossed between ..

We humans do love our rituals. When an extended family gathers for the holidays, familiar traditions promise a comforting respite from an increasingly complex, chaotic world. Still, realistically, troubles and fears refuse to be left behind. They surface like unwelcome guests. So do resentments and stinging remarks born of deep knowledge. With Thanksgiving on the horizon, you wonder: ..

Here’s a riddle – name the 1892 box office flop panned by critics for lack of seriousness and for casting too many kids, which has now transformed into a force of nature timed to occur yearly..

It happens every year, right around Thanksgiving, productions of the Nutcracker pop up from coast to coast, marking the start of the holiday season. But on Saturday, Miami audiences have the ..

As Art Week approaches, Miami choreographer Marissa Alma Nick’s Alma Dance Theater is getting ready to add its distinctive voice, rehearsing for the upcoming performance of “Flowers” at the C..

Promising a night of airiness and ardor, Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami will bring “Ballet’s Pointe of Passion” to the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, where the company joins an att..

Great friendships can nurture and prod an artist to make greater work. Think Pablo Picasso and Wifredo Lam, James Baldwin and Toni Morrison, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Such is also the case fo..

It’s a tall order to present a season as surprising as it is moving, as disturbing as it is delightful. Miami-Dade College’s Live Arts 2017-2018 season -- Ojala/Inshallah: Wishes from the Mu..

It was only a few decades ago that finding a professional, locally produced performance was an aerobic dance in itself. But after the Miami City Ballet (established 1985), the New World Schoo..

A 50th anniversary calls for gold in celebration. But Balanchine’s “Jewels”­—a sublime marriage of music and choreography from 1967—brings Emeralds, Rubies,and Diamonds. Those pre..

When the Limon Dance Company returns to Miami-Dade this weekend, it brings with it the powerful vision of founder José Limon. He was a man deeply concerned about and connected to the humanity..

We know it’s the holiday season when trees light up, menorah candles start to burn, ubiquitous Christmas carols pipe through drugstores, “The Nutcracker” plays on every stage – and in recent ..

Late last year, on Dec. 20, 2016, Romero Britto and Mark Bryn hosted the Great Artists Series Cocktail Reception at the Britto Fine Art Gallery to celebrate the legendary impresaria, Judy Dru..

Everyone remembers a lost weekend, binge reading a novel whose ending had to wait because the body just gave out. No matter how compelling the story somewhere around the 30th hour the brain s..

Globalization has produced many stories —not all inspiring. But having a Pakistani ensemble become a worldwide sensation by playing Paul Desmond’s immortal “Take Five,” which pianist Da..

When the management of New York’s iconic Apollo Theater approached drummer Gregg Field last year about organizing a concert there in honor of the 100th anniversary of Ella Fitzgerald’s birth..

They’ve opened a Chanel fashion show in Havana and been featured in Beyoncé’s visual album for “Lemonade.” The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has danced to their music. Their Florida debu..

There are few artists who have had the impact in their disciplines that guitarist Paco De Lucía had in flamenco. There is a before-and-after De Lucía in flamenco. He expanded the harmonic voc..

Yoli Mayor is a 22-year old Miami native who won over the judges of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” with her power voice (think Adele mixed with Etta James). This weekend, Miami audiences will h..

You might expect something a tad unusual from a jazz band comprised of Bulgarians and Cubans that’s led by the principal percussionist of the Miami Symphony Orchestra. And that’s what you’ll ..

Rubalcaba, Fernández y la cadencia de lo cubano con el flamenco

Photo:
Written by: Fernando Gonzalez
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La colaboración del pianista cubano de jazz Gonzalo Rubalcaba y la cantaora flamenca española Esperanza Fernández junta a dos artistas de primera línea en sus respectivos géneros sin miedo de arriesgarse y explorer otros mundos musicales.

Hijo de Guillermo Rubalcaba y nieto de Jacobo Rubalcaba, figuras ilustres en la música cubana como intérpretes y compositores, Gonzalo creció en la tradición antes de comenzar su propio camino que lo ha llevado al jazz, incluyendo la fusión de jazz rock, el jazz afrocubano y el post-bop, pero también a búsquedas en la música clásica, los danzones y el bolero. Fernández, una gitana de Triana, el gran barrio histórico del flamenco en Sevilla, nació y creció, como Rubalcaba, en la tradición. Ha actuado y grabado con la realeza del flamenco, figuras tales como Paco De Lucía, Camarón de la Isla y Enrique Morente, pero también ha aceptado desafíos con orquestas de música clásica (interpretando y grabando “El Amor Brujo” de Falla por ejemplo), grupos de jazz e innovadores del flamenco tales como los guitarristas Niño Josele y Gerardo Nuñez y el saxofonista Perico Sambeat.

En “Oh, Vida!”, en el Arsht Center el viernes 4 de marzo, como parte del Flamenco Festival Miami, Rubalcaba y Fernández exploran los estilos y repertories de dos cantantres que se transformaron en figures icónicas en sus respectivos géneros, Beny Moré en la música afrocubana y Manolo Caracol en el flamenco.

“Oh, Vida!” es uno de los 10 trabajos comisionados por el Arsht Center, una serie conocida como “10@10,” celebrando el 10o aniversario del centro artístico y cultural.

En una reciente entrevista, Rubalcaba habló de su trabajo con Fernández, los desafíos que presenta un proyecto de mezcla de géneros musicales y culturas y el secreto para crear un lugar de encuentro.

¿Cómo comenzó este proyecto?

Yo conocí a Esperanza en el contexto de Playing Lecuona. La idea era que Chucho Valdés, Michel Camilo y yo teníamos la responsabilidad de manejar el repertorio de Lecuona, y que trabajáramos en diferentes formatos y con cantantes. La razón es que Lecuona trabajó extensamente con voces. Gran parte de su repertorio es cantado. Con Esperanza nos conocimos personalmente cuando hicimos la grabación y se dio una gran conexión.

Nos sentimos muy cómodos haciendo el trabajo y se produjo una admiración mutua, algo que es muy importante en todo esto. Y fue la propia Esperanza unos meses más tarde quien me propuso hacer un trabajo juntos donde pudiéramos explorar nuestras diferentes visiones de la música, y a mí me pareció genial.

¿Cuáles fueron los desafíos más importantes en “Oh, Vida!”?

Creo que para cualquier artista que decide incursionar en un género que no es el propio, el mayor desafío es no tener las vivencias, el contexto, de la cultura que creó ese género. Le tengo gran respeto al flamenco, pero no soy gitano y nunca voy a ser gitano o flamenco, así que lo nuestro fue un ejercicio en crear puentes, lugares de encuentro. Por lo demás [la rítmica, la armonía, el fraseo], es cómo aprender un idioma.

¿Porqué le interesa este tipo de proyecto de mezclas de géneros musicales, de diferentes culturas?

Cuba, por muchas razones, tiene una personalidad cultural muy abierta, muy flexible en términos de fusionar, de mezclar, todo lo que llega o pasa por la isla. El cubano siempre ha estado abierto a manejar todo lo que le llega y él cree que puede aportar a su cultura. La nuestra no es una cultura estacionaria. Yo siempre digo que todos estos proyectos sirven más allá del producto final, sobre el escenario. Crear algo así demanda un proceso de aprendizaje que te sirve para seguir creciendo

“Oh, Vida!” ofrece un programa de canciones de Beny Moré y Manolo Caracol. Porqué los eligieron a ellos?

Beny Moré es, sin duda, una persona clave en la música cubana. Y surgió la idea de crear un paralelo, una conexión, con la época que él vivió, el momento en que él estaba en la cima de su popularidad, y lo que estaba pasando en el flamenco en esa época. Y así surgió el nombre de Manolo Caracol y vimos que podía ser la contraparte de Beny en el flamenco. No todas las canciones que elegimos son los grandes éxitos, no. De Beny, por ejemplo, incluímos “Por una madre,” porque Esperanza se enamoró de esa canción y fue Esperanza quien la trajo porque, la verdad, yo no la recordaba.

Estoy contento porque siento que Esperanza tiene la misma actitud de re-descubrir a Beny Moré y la música cubana que la que yo tengo por su cultura. Para que un proyecto como éste resulte, hay que partir del respeto, y el respeto se manifiesta en que hay que investigar, hay que re-escuchar, hay que re-leer y hay una necesidad de ir al porqué de las cosas, a la esencia.

Gonzalo Rubalcaba y Esperanza Fernández presentan “Oh, Vida!,” parte del Flamenco Festival Miami 2016, 8 p.m. Viernes 4 de marzo; Knight Concert Hall, 1300 Biscayne Blvd. Miami; $35-$95; tickets@arshtcenter.org o 305.949.6722.

 

 


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Music writer, associate editor of the Latin GRAMMY Print & Special Projects for The Latin Recording Academy

Emmy-winner and GRAMMY®-nominated writer, critic, and editor Fernando González is the associate editor of The Latin GRAMMY Print & ..

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