Yes You Too Can Sing

Posted By Fernando Gonzalez
October 21, 2017 at 8:00 PM

The success of so many TV singing competition shows such as American Idol, The Voice and Rising Star is an open secret: So many of us love to sing.

No matter if you once sang and would love to do it again or if you never quite dared except behind the shower curtain, here is your chance to sing, directed by a professional, for free. It’s called Yo Quiero Cantar, and it’s a community choir project presented by the Spanish Cultural Center of Miami (Centro Cultural Español ) led by the singer, pianist, and composer Lázaro Horta.

While the choir is open to all, “it is directed especially to active retirees, those who for example take their grandkids to school or the grandmas who cook lunch and in the afternoon might have nothing to do but watch telenovelas,” says Horta. “This [choir] would be a tremendous activity for them: two hours, twice a month, we’ll get together to learn music and sing with others.”

If it intrigues you, Yo Quiero Cantar is holding auditions Feb. 5 beginning at 11:00 a.m. (call 305.448.9677), and it starts in full Wednesday, Feb. 11. The choir will then meet two Wednesdays a month from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. through December.

Reading music is not a requirement, only an ability to “read lyrics.” And do not fear intonation or rhythm. “We won’t turn anyone away,” says Horta. “We’ll work with them. But we need to know what we have.”

A graduate of the Instituto Superior Pedagógico of  Matanzas, Cuba,  Horta was, in the early 1980s, a contestant at Todo El Mundo Canta (Everybody Sings), then a popular show in Cuban TV. “It’s been off the air for many years now, but in its day, it opened many doors,” says Horta, who moved to the United States in 1998.

Singer and songwriter Pancho Céspedes was a fellow contestant the year he participated, he notes.

After his appearance on the show, he graduated in music education and went to work at the Instituto, directing choirs and vocal groups, he says. “I’ve won prizes as arranger and some of my vocal works are now part of the Cuban vocal repertoire. But I also directed Grupo Kairos, (God’s time). It was the most important vocal group in Christian evangelical music in Cuba. We recorded three albums, toured the United States for years and it was a great school for me. There’s nothing like writing music and immediately take it to a rehearsal and hearing what works and what doesn’t.”

He approaches Yo Quiero Cantar with a deep love of singing and a professional experience — but also with the understanding that “I’m not putting together a professional choir. There might be people who have sung all their lives and others who now they finally dare to try. We’ll see. This will be serious, but it should also be fun.

“I believe people will be very entertained. We are all going to explore together — I don’t know who will show up, what music they might know, what they might like,” explains Horta. “This is not music therapy, but music is a terrific therapy, it’s anti-stress, it’s anti-depressive and it brings you into a wonderful world.”

Yo Quiero Cantar, a community choir presented by Centro Cultural Español (CCE) and directed by singer, pianist and producer Lázaro Horta. Auditions take place Feb. 5 at 11:00 a.m. at the CCE, 1490 Biscayne Blvd. Miami; 305.448.9677.

It will then take place two Wednesdays a month from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. beginning Feb.11.

Free but there is a limited number of paces available. To apply call the CCE at 305.448.9677 or write Mayte de la Torre at

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