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THE start of CUBADISCO 2007 has been for celebrating. Two gala events, the award ceremony at the Karl Marx Theater and the official opening event at the Amadeo Roldán Theatre both qualify as "something to remember."

Saturday night (May 19) may have presaged a litany of names, given the inevitable awarding of more than 30 prizes for an equal number of categories, but gala director Orlando Cruzata put on a very well-conceived show, combining awards with surprising scenes.

In that context, highlights were the overture featuring the Camerata Romeu and Edesio Alejandro, and recalling emblematic musical themes from Cuban films; the tribute to Compay Segundo for his centenary; the vocal groups Sexto Sentido, Sampling (both winners) and Schola Cantorum Coralina; a version of Amigas (composed by Alberto Vera for Omara, Moraima and Elena) and emotionally recreated by Vania, Jenny and Tania, and the always-epic Sara González, giving us her version of "Un hombre se levanta," by Silvio Rodríguez, this time together with young performers Patricio Amaro, David Blanco and Leoni.


The Cubadisco 2006 jury, chaired by maestro Roberto Valera, decided that the Grand Prize of the 11th edition would be shared by Cinco conciertos para piano y orquesta by Heitor Villa-Lobos (Colibrí) and the CD Akapelleando, by the vocal group Sampling, a sextet directed by René Baños (EGREM).

The CD featuring music for piano by Villa-Lobos also won the categories of Symphonic Music and In Situ Recording, while that of Sampling also won for Choral Music.

With respect to Villa-Lobos Cinco conciertos for piano, we published an extensive commentary on its presentation, in which pianist Ulises Hernández, a promoter of the project, explained that few people knew about the existence of those concerts, given they had never been released.

He then initiated a five-year odyssey to bring about that monumental project, beginning work on the original sheet music, thanks to the courtesy of the Villa-Lobos Museum in Río de Janeiro. The first step was the digitalization, transcribing the original scores for pianists and orchestras, which took two years.

Then there was the selection of the pianists who would carry out the study and the concerts, "difficult to play because there are so many interests at the same time, many melodies, themes, which makes them difficult for performers and listeners."

For Concierto No.1 (1945), Elena Santiago (of Matanzas) was invited, a very solid and virtuoso pianist; No. 2 (1948) is performed by Ulises himself, with his characteristic sparkle and elegance; No.3 (1952-1957), at the hands of Patricio Malcolm; No. 4 (1952), is played by the multiple prize-winning (including in jazz) Harold López-Nussa, one of the youngest talents, and No. 5 (1954) was entrusted to Roberto Urbay, the most experienced pianist, for this concerto, considered to be very virtuoso.

This set of concertos for piano by Villa-Lobos was accompanied magisterially by the National Symphonic Orchestra, conducted by the maestro Enrique Pérez Mesa.

The concert took place during the 25th New Latin American Film Festival (2003), at the Amadeo Roldán Theater, and was recorded and filmed there. Hence, the two CDs, of excellent technical quality, and a DVD (which includes the pianists biographies, information on the Symphonic, and on Villa-Lobos himself), launched by the Colibrí label.

The maestro Harold Gramatges, one of the greatest Latin American composers, and winner of the Cubadisco Special Prize this year, commented: "The idea of offering a complete series of such an important work in Latin American and universal culture, by a composer of the stature of Heitor Villa-Lobos, has signified a true event in the musical and culture life of the country."

The CD by Sampling, for its part, is noteworthy for the selection of songs, two of which are at the top of all the hit parades, "Apretaíto pero relajao," and the pop rock classic "Hotel California."

The Special Prizes, as had been announced went to Antología de la música afrocubana (EGREM), produced by musicologist María Teresa Linares; Nicolás Espadero. Obras para piano (EGREM), by Cecilio Tieles; Leyendas (COLIBRÍ), by Dúo Promúsica and Obras. Harold Gramatges (UNICORNIO).

Other prize-winners included the DVD for the film El Benny, which also won the top award in the Soundtrack category (ICAIC); Sexto sentido, in Popular Song for the CD Mi feeling (COLIBRÍ); Buena Fe, for Presagios (EGREM) in Pop/Rock; and William Vivanco, for La isla milagrosa in Fusion. (EGREM).

Soloist Vionaika Martínez, with her CD homónimo (EGREM), won two prizes, in Trova and First Work; the winner for Popular Traditional was Pancho Amat for the CD Llegó el tresero (EGREM) and in Contemporary Dance, Manolito Simonet y su Trabuco for Hablando en serio (EGREM).


The official opening gala for Cubadisco (Sunday, May 20) took place at the Amadeo Roldán Theater. It was the moment selected for the first audition on the island of Cantata criolla, by Venezuelan composer Antonio Estévez, whose text, Florentino y el Diablo, was inspired by poet Alberto Arvelo Torrealba (1905-1971).

A piece for symphonic orchestra, choral group and soloists, was performed by the Cuban National Symphonic Orchestra, under the conductors baton of likewise-Venezuelan César Iván Lara, and his compatriots Raúl Delgado (choral director), tenor Idwer Alvarez, baritone William Alvarado, guitarist Luis Quintero and trumpeter Francisco Flores, all backed by Havana vocal groups.

This edition of the Fair has as its thematic axis the links between music, recordings and film, which is why one of the first encounters was in the Chaplin movie theater, where an interview with maestro Leo Brouwer was shown, by director Lester Hamlet.

The 11th Cubadisco fair, which runs until May 27 in Havana, and all of June in the other Cuban provinces, includes the music fair at the Pabellón Cuba space, the theoretical event at the Hotel Habana Libre and concerts at many venues in the capital, including in the Historic Quarter of Old Havana, a World Heritage Site.

Source: Granma Internacional

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