Amado del Pino

Amado del Pino

Luz in the window

When we Cubans say La Bayamesa, we immediately associate it with something very beloved, a powerful symbol of national identity. It evokes different works and moments under the same name. It is the music of the first national anthem composed by Perucho Figueredo in 1968. In this case, Cuban patriots were searching for a relationship with the French Revolution and its La Marseillaise. In the 20th century (in 1918), the great composer Sindo Garay composed those precious notes—in a song that bears the same title, but with the added name of Mujer Bayamesa (“Bayamo Woman”)—and at some point we have all hummed “lleva en el alma…” (“carries in her soul…”). In this article, I would like to focus on the first song, chronologically speaking, the one from 1851. The authors of this sentimental journey were the important poet José Fornaris, the lovesick musician Francisco Castillo, and a young lawyer with advanced ideas who had studied in Europe and went by the name of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes. He still had not freed his slaves, and nobody referred to him yet as the Father of our homeland. Dying of happiness and love The window of the beautiful Luz Vázquez , which looked...

Candido Fabre: we want to party with you

I heard the news that some activities will be carried out to pay tribute to Candido Fabre´s intense artistic life lasting already 35 years. I remember those early mornings after seeing three or four films in the Festival of New Latin American Cinema; we went around the pool of Hotel Nacional and danced until nearly dawn. In those parties of the penultimate decade of the last century, the main responsible for the joy and leisure time was always Fabré, who once musically claimed that "Havana wants party" with his music. The Cuban capital is enjoying his art for many years and looks forward to his visits. His songs have been around much of the world and dancers have enjoyed his compositions also assumed by many groups and singers of great prestige. Even the great Celia Cruz took Candido´s wit in her repertoire! One of those nights that I evoke, and another one in which the artist was performing with the same fervor on the dance floor or platform, in the street of a popular carnivals of his beloved eastern provinces, I am sure that Fabré played that lovely hit that starts talking of mischief of Candito boy and then goes...

Cuban Trova finds a place in Madrid

ERICK SÁNCHEZ IN MADRID OR THIRD TIME LUCKY The cozy bar " Ni tan tarde" at Huertas street, where the classic Las Letras neighborhood ends and seems to look at the eyes of the Paseo del Prado, has increasingly become a favorite place for those who like trova, intelligent texts and endearing melodies. This space (that blends bohemian environment and almost familiar atmosphere) has been attended already by Pedro Luis Ferrer and Pavel Urquiza. But it was Erick Sanchez who has given us a beautiful concert on Friday night, September 6th. Erick put together several of the most famous samples of his creation with personal and virtuous interpretation of works by other composers. He brought songs of Pablo Milanes, Silvio Rodriguez, Pedro Luis and made inroads into the classics of our trova. Sánchez invited Julio Hernández and this Cuban singer-resident for fifteen years in Madrid- offered us two samples of his talent: a nostalgic song and one that is a little gem of local costumes and sympathy. The presence of Juan Carlos Cuba was exciting and effective. This oral narrator shared many afternoons chatting with Erick in Havana at the end of last century. It was an interesting and mischievous...

In times of bolero

One of the last times I was in Havana I applauded our tremendous bolero singer Manolo del Valle. This summer, the man who plays so well that leap of faith that many have repeated at least once ("I will not give up your love") performed in Miami. The bolero is part of the sentimental education of many of the Cubans. The unforgettable Helio Orovio and other musical sages have left definitions, established procedures and clarified the sweet face of the genre. I'm just a lover, one of many in the gloom of the tables in the cabaret or the humble but empowering intimacy that the radio fosters and Bolero accentuated. My experience debunks two of the topics that have surrounded the use of boleros. It is said to be a genre for people over forty. I learned lyrics; I destroyed melodies and followed its best performers since adolescence. People also linked for years love and bolero, and the company of drinks. For a quarter century I was part of the troops of rum "long drinkers". It is true that there abound lovers of the bitter boleros. In my case, I have lived for eleven years without a drop of alcohol,...

Writing on the fly

Dusk in Havana. The family has been assembled. One or another coffee cup has yet to be taken to the kitchen; neighbors’ voices compete with the television, which is on. The grandmother and the cousin visiting from out of town are enthusiastically watching the program Palmas y Cañas. The rest of the family pays attention only sporadically, on the fence between accepting the program as their own and disassociating themselves to uphold their status as urbanites. The longtime program has played a beautiful role, but those of us who love the music known as “punto guajiro,” and especially the formidable art of controversias, or poetic duels using the sung décima (rhyming verse), it is just a reflection of a rich world with a long tradition. The custom of joining in a canturía (group song) or guateque (rural fiesta) to improvise décimas came to us from Spain. Vicente Espinel is the man credited with forming the stanza as it is today, and researchers say that it is one of many legacies from our Canary Island ancestors. One of the founders of this living tradition defined the décima as a Spanish traveler who put down roots in Cuban land. It is an...

Benny’s birthday

Almost at once I read a story and I get an email about it. This weekend young Cuban singers will honor Benny Moré in the occasion of his 94th birthday. A concert will be held at the Theatre of the  National Museum of Fine Arts and another in a very active space called Utopia, located in the Casa de la Musica in Miramar. I do not need much encouragement to speak of Benny. More than twenty years ago I walked in his footsteps on the livestock Camaguey region, using as a pretext that unforgettable chorus “Vertientes, Camaguey, Florida and Moron". Then I called "El conde negro en la llanura” (The black Count on the plain) the outcome of the tour of the provinces of Camaguey and Ciego de Avila. There is much of Benny in Vertientes. In that forgotten sugar mill town he spent much of his childhood. And, according to those who spoke to me then, back from Mexico and, before joining the orchestra of Mariano Mercerón in Santiago de Cuba, the great singer spent a few days off in Vertientes. Everyone knows that there were several towns to which the King of Rhythm paid tribute. From Manzanillo, with...

Jumping on the couch

The very recent Saturday August 17 the Spanish newspaper El País was referring to the conflicts faced by public television regarding the transmission of sporting events. Luckily, for the World Athletics Championships, which just ended in Moscow, appeared a sponsor and I could see much of the competition. Cuba was back in the distant 1960 when I was born mainly a country of baseball and boxing, but also came echoes of figures as the Andarín Carvajal (1875-1949, his full name was Felix de la Caridad Carvajal and Soto) who participated in the Olympics marathon St. Louis in 1904, defying difficult circumstances. By the way, playwright Jesus Gregorio wrote a play about this athlete. He also took to the stage the story of Kid Chocolate, the legend of boxing. Athletics boom-like many other sports, in the sixties I remember a popular phrase which referred to a sprinter at the time. When you were much in a hurry in something, the grace of ordinary Cubans advised you: "Do not run, you're not Pablo Montes". Returning to Moscow and the -insufficiently supported by the public- World Athletics, I have the certainty that in Havana, Miami, Madrid and many other parts of the world...

More awards for Penumbra and two remarkable Industriales men

When Omar Franco recently won the Performance Award at the Festival of New York (for the film Pablo) I really craved to write. I was held back because his career is very linked with mine in recent times. Now, however, I cannot avoid celebrating once again his having obtained the highest distinction as a performer in the first edition of the International Film Fest & Convention, which just gave out their awards in Puerto Rico. Other media will give the news in detail. Besides Omar’s, the film by Charlie Medina Penumbras –a film version of my theater work Penumbra en el novena cuarto swept with much of the distinctions. Congratulations to Charlie, Omar Ali, and Ismercy Solomon and the rest of the winners. What happens is that this chronicle dwells on other side. The artistic quality of the performance of both the Omar Franco in the theater-in the staging by Osvaldo Doimeadiós in 1984 as well as in Medina's film is an event in our cultural life. And passion, baseball knowledge, infatuation shared by baseball, had much to do with his work as a performer robust. The innkeeper Pepe, for all a marginal loser that assumes he is saved or...

August and the breeze of cultural consumption

In August, Cubans usually talked about the beach, rest, carnivals, and family reunions. But I think it is also a good time to consume culture and give something beautiful to the spirit , when our body is often tired of swimming at the beach or sweating when walking through those streets that have gradually lost the shadow of their trees. I remember, it is been more than a decade of this event, a meeting of theater specialists where someone argued that it was natural that theatrical offers were just a few and unattractive in August, as theactresses and actors also had children in school holidays and other so typical circumstances of the month. I was among the "party poopers" that said something like: "yes, theater people also want to be on vacation in August but that is a common desire of those working in a nightclub and adore the soap opera broadcasted at nine in the evening or a sports narrator who loves desperately peace -a bit boring but endearing- of his house on a Sunday afternoon.” I agree that, in Havana, for most of July and the entire month of August, theatre can not count with college students who at that time return to their provinces, but in turn there are many foreign tourists and Cubans living out of the country who want to enjoy, as much as they can, life of this city during the few days of their visit. Just to guide several friends and relatives who travel to Cuba, I have especially sought in August options that gentle breeze...

Neither Superman nor Russian cartoon

For Cubans in the 20-50 age group, the Elpidio Valdés character is absolutely natural, a cheeky password for identity. Elderly Cubans have memories of “American” cartoons and those of us who were born in the euphoric 1960s and are now in our fifties went from Soviet cartoons to the mass fiesta and the charm of Juan Padrón’s animated “Elpidio” films. Many of us have sung along with Carlos Varela at some point: “I don’t have Superman, I have Elpidio Valdés/ and my television was Russian.” In “Memories,” the trova singer evokes the essence of a rich history that was implanted into the national soul after decades of two powerful influences. The U.S. presence in the economy, and also its impact on the country’s sentimental education, lasted from 1902 to 1958. The Soviet influence was equally significant, especially after Cuba joined the Comecon in 1972. According to their sympathies or ideological stance, ordinary folks called the northerners “yankis,” “yumas” or “yonis” (from “Johnnys”), and they referred to the others, who were from even farther away, as “sovieticos” or “rusos”—and with that Cuban gift for definitions that go beyond rhetoric—“bolos.” Padrón initially created the figure of Colonel Elpidio as a secondary character...

Buena Vista and the market’s selective look

I read in Granma newspaper the news-signed by dear colleague Venereo- that the Buena Vista Social Club will be at the Marbella’s Starlite Festival, which runs from July 23 until August 24. It make me glad that everything that means promoting Cuban culture and the so-called "Buena Vista phenomenon" has been, due to an unknown sum of factors ranging from talent and vigor of our music to the exact circumstances of its birth and how it was promoted: an authenticity crack open in the thick wall of the Market. The tendency to legitimize the known, the trademark, the sure bet does not cease among the producers of books, records or shows or- at least in Spain-in the media. It is very easy in Madrid or Barcelona to evoke a classic song by Silvio Rodriguez and Pablo Milanes but if you talk about other great troubadours as Pedro Luis Ferrer, they usually look at you as if you had turned to Chinese. In the case of Pedro Luis, for years I gave my old cassette over and over again to those friends who could interest with a passion for his work. Now social networks are helping. When his most recent concerts...

Carnavales en La Habana

Going to carnivals

I confess not without a certain melancholy: I've never enjoyed the Carnivals of Santiago de Cuba. In my only experience I was too young and I had no company of town friends or time to get into the classic Trocha. I am encouraged, however, the certainty that the party is in that Caribbean city something that matters to most of the inhabitants of Santiago or occasional visitors. The boxes of food, spirits in navigable quantities, dancing or other activities as human as "hitting a girl"... are accompanied in this case by something else. There is a pride, a joy for the overflowing torrent of sound and gesture of the congas which is often lacking in many of the other festivals of its kind in Cuba. My best experience in carnivals is with the celebrations in small and medium size towns in the province of Ciego de Avila, back in the eighties of last century. The carnivals were also the meeting place for many young people studying in different parts of the country and we converted the summer holidays in a round of relaxed meetings, healthy laughter, dreams that used to evaporate almost as quickly as the sweat of our shirts....

Nuevos negocios en Cuba

Swallowing the piece of bread

A few years ago I published that article that some friends remind me of occasionally. In a coffee place-state-run as all were at the time, I found several offers to satiate my hunger as a perennial chubby by choice I am. There was a difficulty, the option didn’t include any liquid. "The detergent is at fault, mate." I remember that was the explanation. And I wondered aloud first, newspaper pages later, something very simple: "How do I help swallowing the bread?" I also used the example of a fact that seemed a caricature but it was a naked truth. In the central Havana corner of 23 and 12 (a few steps from the famous cafe "The Ball") they were selling bread and cream cheese too. The two products were sold separately. The bureaucratic logic did not reach the almost inevitable next step: assign an employee to open the loaves and put inside the creamy dairy product. The hunger of people crowding the area began to be guided by a dynamic much more human and they took the packaging of the cheese, opened the bread with their bare hands and (for lack of paper and not in a good mood because...

A piece of Havana in Madrid Theaters

I have practiced for a few years the theater criticism. I have suffered the same that happened to my teacher Rine Leal. The author of ¨ The Dark Jungle¨ confessed that sometimes he had envied the anonymous spectator who when getting bored due to a bad play, he just get up and leaves the theatre. I do not want to use this column to make reviews on shows. I have decided to speak on disturbing, lively and joyful topics. Now I have found a staging that has that self-assurance, that popular grace, that virtue of leaving you thinking and enjoying at the same time. I’m talking about the premiere in the Madrid theatrical season of ¨ Celos y agravios¨, directed by Liuba Cid and which gets to the stage thanks to Arte Producciones Artisticas Company in collaboration with its Havana counterpart Mephisto Teatro. Last Wednesday night the Figaro Theatre – on the way to the center of Madrid from the Plaza Tirso de Molina, in the charming neighborhood of Lavapies, was filled and there was an energy exchange, a complicity between the show and its receptors, which is very stimulating in the theater billboard of any place in the world....

The Cuban Vision of Baroque Comes to Barcelona

Reinaldo González is one of the most important Cuban writers alive. And it is not just because he's the recipient of the National Literature Prize. This is one of those tireless intellectuals who share his creativity between fiction, essays, publishing, cultural management. Now Insolencias del barroco (insolence of Baroque)-a new book by Reinaldo-culminate a series of successful performances in Spain. This Thursday, June 20, at half past seven in the evening, large crowds will surely meet in the library + Bernat in the central street of Buenos Aires, in the city of Barcelona. Those of us who attended the recent Madrid presentation of the sage text enjoyed an afternoon that became a luxury culture class. Mayda Bustamente-up now manager and producer of formidable dance and theater shows that can be seen in the Spanish capital and in many other places, has been put in charge of Ediciones Cumbres, responsible for the appearance of these welcome insolence. Projects that start to dream big-even in the midst of an economic crisis that has become fashionable in Spain-and discouragement are set aside ​​by passion, often have high class accomplices. In what became cozy get-together in the Book House of Fuencarral, the critic and...

Pending prizes

On Cuban filmmaker Ian Padron can be said that "he has a very fastball." This baseball image becomes meaningful in the case of the author of ¨Fuera de liga¨, a documentary about Cuban baseball that withstood years of silence. Padron proposed weeks ago that Reinaldo Miravalles -considered for many as the greatest Cuban actor-would receive the National Film Award. A lot of people supported this open letter in social networks. Upon receiving the National Literature Prize, Leonardo Padura, the famous Cuban novelist from Mantilla, who is also "a heavy hitter," by continuing using the baseball language, told Abilio Estévez, his former classmate in the University of Havana, also deserves the aforementioned award and added it is not right to deprive him from that right because he lives, as Miravalles, out of Cuba. I have thought a lot about other artists who should also receive any of these National Awards granted by the Cuban Ministry of Culture for the lifetime work, which become a truly national event. I’d like to mention some of the artists that should be on that list, and through this work I’m encouraging other personalities to remind us more names and c areers of whom should be...

Ricardito

I am honest and a good dancer

About Facebook-like television or even the aircraft in the early years of the consolidation of their respective empires, people used sometimes to speak ill for being very intellectual or singular person and contrary to everything. I recognize its dangers and excesses but I like it because it accompanies me, because (as the good bars in "real life"), one could come and go without hardly anyone asking you where you were and perhaps above all I am pleased that in this social network people can suggest or propose a book, a movie, a song. If before I was like three times without the cassette-last-century word if any-of Pedro Luis Ferrer for having lent it passionately, we are now quite a few who play his songs and in recent days we have remembered the dates of his brief tour through Spain. Thanks to Facebook we have also learned in this April 2013 that Gema Corredera, our tremendous singer, has performed in the United States with his teacher-and of more than a generation-Marta Valdés. Gema-with effective drama in that balance of good taste that is promoted without being “heavy” - has put some of his songs from the new album and we thank...

Abilio Estévez

Abilio’s Pearls

Solemn acts usually arrive late and obey rather to situational circumstances. Some other times it is not like that. And in the second group is the day that the Luis Cernuda Chair of Seville paid just homage to the formidable Cuban writer living in Barcelona, Abilio Estévez. The first sign that Seville people did things right is in the fact that the author accepted the homage. Abilio is allergic to rhetoric; he works and lives back to political opportunism or aesthetic of different sign. As usual, in the comments on the literary festival in Seville it was said Estevez is a playwright but in passing and without mentioning any of his titles. I always resent the "homing" of the drama in the pantry of literature, but I will not waste time to complain and then remind the reader that this is one of the four fundamental playwrights in the Cuban theater. Estevez was spared these minor and imperfect works that are usually at the beginning of most of the authors. In 1984 he won the UNEAC award with La verdadera culpa de Juan Clemente Zenea.. This, along Estorino’s appropriation of the figure and work of Milanes, is the highest moment...

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