Encuentro Puertorriqueño de Creación Musical
The University of Illinois School of Music is hosting a four-day symposium on the music of Puerto Rico this Thursday, March 30 through Sunday, April 2. The symposium, titled Encuentro Puertorriqueño de Creación Musical (A Symposium on Puerto Rican Musical Creativity), will feature renowned scholars, performers, and educators from around the world in a series of panels, performances, and workshops. These events will explore the rich musical traditions and diverse cultural influences that have shaped Puerto Rican music, offering insight into the intersections of music, identity, and community in Puerto Rico and its diaspora. Musical styles spanning opera, reggaeton, experimental jazz, and salsa will be discussed and performed, while panels will address issues of identity, compositional practice, and the promotion of Puerto Rican music.
“I am personally really excited about the Bomba music workshop (an Afro-Puerto Rican tradition that involves improvised verses, dancing, and music [mostly percussion] that is still practiced today),” said Dr. Carlos Ramirez, Assistant Professor of Musicology at the School of Music, who will be presenting a paper at the first panel. "My panel presentation will address some issues faced by historians of the Early Modern in the Caribbean (and Puerto Rico specifically) when researching the most ephemeral historical phenomena—sound and music—and the ways that musical form can help us recover repertoire that is seemingly lost in the historical record, but very much alive in contemporary practices."
Below you’ll find a breakdown of the weekend's concerts, which are free and open to the public. You can also check out the entire schedule and register for the symposium for free here. "Whether you are a musician, music lover, scholar, or simply curious about Puerto Rican music, register now and join us in celebrating Puerto Rican musical creativity!" the symposium's website reads.
Thursday, March 30, 8 p.m. – Álea 21 – Recital Hall, Smith Memorial Hall
Founded and directed by Manuel J. Ceide, Álea 21 is a contemporary chamber music ensemble from the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico.
Friday, March 31, 6 p.m. – Alfonso Fuentes – Music Building Auditorium
Alfonso Luis Fuentes Colón is a Puerto Rican composer, pianist, poet, and educator. His improvisatory piano recitals expose a variety of “classical” music styles, as well as third stream music that combines classical, jazz, and tropical music and folklore mainly from Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.
Friday, March 31, 8 p.m. – Alberto Rodriguez, guitar – Memorial Room, Smith Memorial Hall
Guitarist and composer Alberto Rodríguez Ortiz is Associate Professor of Classical Guitar at the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico. His compositions range from solos works for guitar and chamber music to pieces for full orchestra. In 1997 he was composer in residence for the Rome Festival (Rome, Italy). As a guitarist, he has performed in concerts and festivals around the world, including the Caribbean, North America, Central America, and Europe.
Saturday, April 1, 1–3 p.m. – Bomba y Plena Workshop – Spurlock Museum
Bomba de Aquí is a dance and music company that performs and teaches Afro-Puerto Rican traditions. They lead workshops to educate the community about the history of Afro-Puerto Rican music, foster understanding of the richness of Puerto Rican arts, and encourage active participation in that heritage. Instruction will be in both Spanish and English.
Saturday, April 1, 4–5 p.m. – Illinois Modern Ensemble – Recital Hall, Smith Memorial Hall
The Illinois Modern Ensemble comprises students dedicated to the performance of contemporary and experimental music. The group is codirected by Professors Stephen Taylor and Carlos Carrillo, who is on the symposium's organizing committe.
Saturday, April 1, 8 p.m. – Armando Bayolo – Recital Hall, Smith Memorial Hall
Born in Santurce, Puerto Rico to Cuban parents, composer Armando Bayolo has been hailed for his “suggestive aural imagination” (El Nuevo Día) in works that are “full of lush ideas and a kind of fierce grandeur, (unfolding) with subtle, driving power” (The Washington Post). His “music combines the audacity of popular music, the verve-filled rhythmic language of Latin America, and the pugnacity of postmodern classicism into a heady, formidable concoction” (Sequenza21), and “deserves to be heard many more times, and in many more places. It is new, it is fresh, and it gets its message across” (The Charlotte Observer) “with quite a high degree of poetic expressiveness” (Music-Web International).
Sunday, April 2, 4 p.m. – Victory Players – Recital Hall, Smith Memorial Hall
The Victory Players is a program of the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts and the MIFA Victory Theater. Led by music director Tianhui Ng, the program celebrates the achievements of young professional classical musicians while promoting community engagement, advocacy, and teaching.