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Sample Track 1:
"Dervish" from Avant Ango, 2003 CD Mixies
Sample Track 2:
"Amanecer" from Noche Flamenca, Album de Steve Cordeau
Sample Track 3:
"Site Contara" from Joe Vasconcellos, Banzai
Sample Track 4:
"El Caiman" from Semilla, Semilla
Sample Track 5:
"Canda Munani Ishcay" from Yarina, Ñawi
Sample Track 6:
"El Hueso" from Petrona Martinez, Bonito Que Canta
Sample Track 7:
"Boricua en la Luna" from Roy Brown, Coleccion (Disco 1)
Sample Track 8:
"Alfonisna y el Mar" from Tania Libertad, Alfonsina y el Mar XX Años
Sample Track 9:
"El Baile De L. Alonso" from Banda Sinfonicade Vall De Uxo, Paso Doble Y Seleccionde Zarzuelas
Sample Track 10:
"Cancion Mandala" from Coba, Coba-Cancion Mandala
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JP Morgan Chase Latino Cultural Festival 2007 View Additional Info

The Roots, Stars, and Innovators of the JPMorgan Chase Latino Cultural Festival: Queens Theatre in the Park Announces Line-Up for the Annual 12-Day Extravaganza

Since its inception eleven years ago, Queens Theatre in the Park’s JPMorgan Chase Latino Cultural Festival has aimed to reflect the vibrant diversity of the Latino experience in the many Queens communities surrounding the theater. This year is no exception, and the Festival reveals the deep roots, cultural icons, and groundbreaking future of the Latino arts in New York City and beyond. It features 17 events, encompassing film, concerts, theater, dance, and spoken word, and runs from July 25th to August 5th in Queens Theatre in the Park's indoor 500-seat main auditorium and 99-seat Studio Theatre in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

The Festival’s vision is two-fold: to bring major, culturally significant performers to mainstream New York audiences, and to bring to the fore the new face of the flourishing Latino communities of Queens and New York. Audiences come to the Festival to revel in their cultural identity, to introduce their children to old favorites from back home, and to discover new and unexpected performers emerging from the Latin scene. “The Festival is a window into the past, present and future of Latino culture,” Festival artistic director Claudia Norman explains, “and that’s why people love it.”

Colombia’s wildly popular folk singer Petrona Martinez has deep roots extending back into her country’s African past. She picks up where the grande dame of Afro-Colombian folk music, Totó La Momposina, left off, and promises to share the same late-life international fame as barefoot diva Cesaria Evora. Martinez learned her powerful interpretation of the bullerengue, a rhythm linked to cumbia and female fertility, from her mother and grandmother. She comes from the tiny town of San Basilio de Palenque, a UNESCO-protected, walled community built as a refuge by escaped 17th-century slaves. Now a mother herself, Martinez has passed on her unique singing style to her daughters, who accompany her as she sings, dances, and sways in her rocking chair on stage. Nominated in 2002 for a Latin Grammy, Martinez makes her NYC/Queens debut at the Festival.

Roots also run deep for Yarina—“remembrance” in the Quichua language of the Incas—an ensemble performing and playfully reinterpreting the indigenous traditions of Andes through jazz, classical, and Latin genres. Originally founded by the Cachimuel siblings, Yarina was inspired by their father José’s political and cultural activism, as well as evening jam sessions in their native town of Otavalo. The group remains a family affair dedicated to the “beauty and courage” of Ecuador’s indigenous peoples, though its members have expanded their musical horizons at places like the Berklee College of Music.

The young performers of Semilla have their roots in the “Costa Chica”—the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca—the same areas as the overwhelming majority of Mexican emigrants to New York City. This Queens-based group plays the special style of son from this region, music that reflects centuries of input from Chilean and Peruvian sailors, Afro-Mexicans and local indigenous groups. Semilla’s musicians and dancers have traveled across Mexico, playing along with son masters in informal jam sessions and local festivals. When these Queens soneros throw a fandango, older émigrés join American-raised kids who set aside their iPods to sing along and take a turn on the tarima, the wooden dance floor built especially for these parties.

Banda Sinfonica Vall d’Uixó has long been a mainstay at the many street festivals and processions vital to Valencia’s culture. First formed after the Spanish Civil War, this international award-winning ensemble is keeping the tradition of the large Spanish brass band alive. Though many of the Banda’s musicians are members of highly regarded symphonies and classical ensembles, the group’s repertoire reaches deep into Spanish folklore and tradition. For their Festival performance, the Banda will play classics popular throughout the Spanish-speaking world, like “Pepita Greus,” a pasodoble often heard at bullfights. Sponsored by the provincial government of Valencia, Spain.

Committed to the complex and often misinterpreted tradition of flamenco, Noche Flamenca has become one of the most highly respected flamenco companies in the world, striving to maintain and present flamenco’s movement and music in its purest form. Founder and choreographer Martin Santangelo, along with his wife and principle dancer Soledad Barrio, have created a troupe whose performance eschews gimmicks and digs deep to capture flamenco’s immediacy and fire.

Across Latin and South America, there are superstars who are unsung in the “mainstream” up North but reveal the increasingly prominent position of Latino popular cultures in the U.S. Many of them politically outspoken, these performers—much-loved at home, yet less-known here—form the musical backbone of the Festival.

Singer-songwriter Roy Brown became intimately involved in the major issues rocking Puerto Rico in turbulent 1970s: civil rights, the independence movement, and the Vietnam War. Brown’s early love for writing songs and poems led him to record several albums, including the groundbreaking “Yo Protesto.” His politically salient songs lost him his university job and got him arrested, but have led some critics to declare that Roy Brown is nueva trova, the song movement that had a major impact on musicians around Latin America. Brown remains a prolific songwriter and performer, and his songs have been performed by everyone from Peruvian diva Susana Baca to the Puerto Rican reggae band Cultura Profética.

Peruvian-born Tania Libertad lives in Mexico, and her songs span the Americas. Akin to Joan Baez, Libertad became wildly popular for her performance of the protest songs of the 1970s and ’80s, when songwriters across Latin and South America battled oppressive regimes. She has since been named an honorary UNESCO Peace Ambassador and has been recognized by the governments of Peru and Brazil for her artistic achievements. Her voice has been called “an extraordinary dramatic instrument” reflecting “a glorious spirit” by the Los Angeles Times.
Blending Brazilian beats, Chilean folk music, and politically charged lyrics, Joe Vasconcellos made a breakthrough leap from the underground to multi-platinum popularity thanks to his folk-rock en Espanol. Vasconcellos’s songs address the impending environmental catastrophe threatening Patagonia and the world, and the singer-songwriter has become a musical Al Gore of sorts, someone with widespread appeal and profound green convictions. He’s also been dubbed “the greatest artist you've probably never heard of” by the Chicago Sun-Times.

While long-cherished roots and their popular interpretations remain compelling, the future of Latino culture and the heart of the JPMorgan Chase Latino Cultural Festival lie with artists finding new resonances in their rich heritages. Some of these “cosmopolatino” performers were shaped by life in the U.S. and Europe, but still feel the strong pull of Latino traditions and identity. Others have simply adopted a global perspective or a spirit of innovation. The cosmopolitan crucible of New York City, the Festival’s source of inspiration, is the perfect stage for a new generation of edgy Latino artists—some New Yorkers and some not—with strong emotional and aesthetic ties to their heritage.

From the start, the Festival has been dedicated to fostering innovation and creativity, exemplified by the dance piece commissioned by the Festival every year. This year’s featured ensemble Diquis Tiquis, in a piece co-commissioned by Queens Theatre and LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, was founded in Costa Rica and features dancers Alejandro Tosatti and Sandra Trejos and their unique blend of mime, theater, and modern dance. Their quintessentially contemporary work draws on pre-Colombian art and other Latin American elements, resulting in productions that the New York Times has called “immaculate.”

Avantango explores the unexpected intersection of avant New York jazz and Argentine tango. A recent boom in milongas, traditional tango dances, has created a new audience for bassist and director Pablo Aslan and his group of well-respected jazz veterans and dancers fluent in both tango and modern dance movement. Avantango has brought hard-core tango fans to the contemporary tradition sparked by Astor Piazzolla, and new music fans to the beauty of tango.

Also drawing inspiration from his Argentine roots, Buenos Aires-born trumpet player Diego Urcola and his Quintet remain firmly planted in the jazz idiom and the NYC jazz community. With a successful career at Berklee, an admirable history of collaboration with various jazz greats, and a Latin Grammy and several jazz Grammy nominations under his belt, Urcola continues to develop sophisticated musical bridges across the Americas. Urcola is part of the first generation to grow up in South America playing straight-up jazz, albeit with a constant ear for the musical possibilities of their heritage.

Performer and writer Julia Ahumada Grob’s one-woman show, He(R)evolution, chronicles Grob’s personal journey grappling with her Latina identity and Chile’s turbulent past through the words of six characters, including her Jewish American mother and her Chilean father.

Carrying on the Festival tradition of showcasing up-and-coming Latino musicians, this year features two New York-based groups playing innovative roots music that strips tradition down to its intriguing essence. Claudia, a young vocalist once involved with Peru’s trova and rock scenes, leads the Claudia Trio in an exploration of the music of Chabuca Granda, along with Venezuelan guitarist Juancho Herrera and Peruvian cajonero Héctor Morales. Granda was a prolific Peruvian singer and songwriter in the 1940s and ’50s whose scandalous love life, deep voice, and important compositions made an indelible mark on Latin music. Now Claudia Trio returns to this past icon, breathing new life and meaning into the songs many young Latinos know from their grandparents’ old phonographs. Coba, founded by Colombian guitarist Sebastián Cruz and joined by unforgettable singer Lucia Pulido, moves aside the sound and fury of Latin dance music to reveal its softer reflective side, stopping along the way to add hints of rock, jazz and electronica. The result is an intense take on Afro-Colombian traditions, thanks to Cruz’s original songwriting and the group’s unusual arrangements and instrumentation.

Along with evening and matinee performances, the Festival includes several events welcoming families and the community at large. Family audiences will get a chance to see “Piratas en el Callao,” an animated feature that has wowed kids in Peru and launched the nascent Peruvian animation industry. “Piratas” tells the story of a young boy who is magically transported from the colonial fortress at Callao into the past, where he helps battle the dreaded Dutch pirate Jacques L'Hermite. The Colombian film “Mi Abuelo, Mi Papa Y Yo” chronicles the changing nature of love as one ages, echoing the Festival’s embrace of multiple generations. Community members are also invited to share their insights and writing at the annual Open Mic Night, hosted by Honduran-American poet and author Sheila Maldonado.

With community at the center, this year’s Festival shows the powerful link between the deep past of Latin and South America and the emerging generation of Latinos creatively looking for their roots. It shows the connection between the political voices of recent decades and the new challenges facing communities across the Americas. In just twelve days, it will give New York audiences an engaging glimpse of Latino America, right in the heart of Queens. 

Additional Info
The Roots, Stars, and Innovators of the JPMorgan Chase Latino ...
Cachet in Queens: A New Kind of Theatre, Ten Years Later: Queens ...
Funders List for Latino Cultural Festival publications and web sites

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