Developing a relationship with Latin America was a wish and one of the goals of the Musical Bridges Strategic Plan. For many years I have been a great admirer of Latin music with its sophisticated rhythms and irresistible melodies. This music makes you dance no matter what your state of mind at the moment.
Coming from Russia with a classical music academic background, I wasn’t familiar with the Puerto Rican culture, but in order to secure the highest quality of the performance, I needed to learn the culture and its historical and musical roots. Dr. Awilda Ramos–MBAW Board President and originally from Puerto Rico–flew with me to her native country in search of knowledge and musicians for the next MBAW season.
The trip was absolutely fascinating!!! What a rich culture!!! Such a small green island and it contributed Salsa to the world. And if that’s not enough: La Plena, La Danza.
It turns out that Puerto Rican music reflects its history and influences of Spanish, African and Indian cultures. The typical instrumentation for a Puerto Rican folk ensemble is: cuatro, guitar, bongo (one or more) and guido (a percussion instrument made out of dried fruit and played with a metal brush). The cuatro is Puerto Rico’s own version of the guitar and is everywhere, while the original guitar comes from Spain, guido from the native Puerto Rican Indians and bongo from Africa.