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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: ..

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Global Cuba Fest Endures Beyond Politics

Photo: Danay Suarez
Written by: Neil de la Flor
Article Rating

Despite an end to the “wet foot, dry foot” policy and other changes in the Florida-Cuba dynamic, Global Cuba Fest 2017 will continue to satiate the souls of South Floridians with a month-long music fest and theater performances that promise to slay. The 10th Anniversary of Global Cuba Fest opens with Cuban musicians Dayramir Gonzalez and Danay Suarez, in collaboration with the Miami-based chamber orchestra Nu Deco Ensemble, this weekend at The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse.

Born out a decade-long collaboration between the Miami Light Project and FUNDarte, Global Cuba Fest seeks out, through cultural exchange initiatives and a ton of research, the best Cuban musicians from around the world.

“It’s a celebration of musicians from the Cuban diaspora, including artists who still live in Cuba and who are making music that is powerful and culturally relevant,” says Beth Boone, artistic and executive director of the Miami Light Project. “These are rising stars who identify as refugees and as immigrants, and are working in the States, Europe and Latin America.”

One of those rising stars is Danay Suarez. Suarez is the voice of a new generation of contemporary Cuban musicians whose sultry vocals conjure up images that transport the listener to the storied streets of la Habana Vieja. Although firmly rooted in a sound that is uniquely Afro-Cuban, Suarez transcends the dominant Cuban tropes of cigars, rumba and Celia Cruz and opens up a new pathway for musical genius to emerge. Think Mary J. Blige, not Gloria Estefan, singing in your ear as you’re walking down the street.

“Yo Aprendi” is a good example of Suarez’s contemporary vibe. She is currently working on her solo album “Palabras Manuales,” which will be released this month. (Check out the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqLhLDbm0d8. )

What makes Global Cuba Fest programming so unique this year is that Suarez’s music will be set to the 27 member orchestral marvel that is the Nu Deco Ensemble. “Nu Deco is like bringing Dom Pérignon to a really cool underground party,” says Boone. “They are so thrilling in every way. Artistically, they are at the top of their game. They are fun to work with. They are the ‘make Miami proud’ kind of organization like Tarrell Alvin McCraney [the playwright behind the Oscar-award-winning film “Moonlight”] is to Miami as an individual artist. Nu Deco Ensemble opens up an entirely different musical experience for the listener.” (Nu Deco Ensemble & Afrobeta: https://vimeo.com/133448120.)

If Nu Deco Ensemble is the Dom Pérignon of the party, then maybe Dayramir Gonzalez is the exuberant bubbly that makes champagne Champagne. Born in Havana, Gonzalez is an Afro-Cuban jazz pianist, composer, arranger and child prodigy whose resonant performances hark back to deep rooted musical traditions, which have won him world acclaim and even a slot on stage at Carnegie Hall. This week he’ll be at The Light Box channeling his deep reverence for musical tradition for three performances during the opening weekend of Global Cuba Fest. (At TEDxhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqBGS8mu0lI.)

If you can’t make the opening of Global Cuba Fest this weekend, it’s ok. The festival runs throughout the month of March. On March 18th, Ernan Lopez Nussa, the Picadillo Band and Carlos Puig Hatem, with special guests Ahmed barroso, Pavel Urkiza and Lillian Garcia, headline the mega Global Cuba Fest concert at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium (MDCA). The festival culminates the weekend of March 24 to 26, also at MDCA, with Argos Teatros’ “10 Million,” a bilingual coming of age performance about growing up in the aftermath of the Cuban Revolution.

“I think people’s minds are going to be blown,” says Boone. “These artists represent every fiber of what we aim for at Miami Light Project, which is inclusive, diverse and eclectic by design. The stars have aligned for Global Cuba Fest 2017 this year.”


The 10th Anniversary of Global Cuba Fest opens with Cuban musicians Dayramir Gonzalez and Danay Suarez, with Miami-based chamber orchestra Nu Deco Ensemble Global Cuba Fest, Thursday through Saturday, 8:00 p.m.;The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse, 404 NW 26th Street, Miami; tickets: $35-45 | VIP $90; www.fundarte.us, www.miamilightproject.com.

 


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About The writer

Performance arts writer, teacher, photographer, magician

Neil de la Flor is a writer, teacher, photographer and Executive Director of Reading Queer. His publications include An Elephant's Memory of Blizzards..

About the Writer

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