Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Tag: Arango


A Bembé at the Arangos’ Home in Cuba

Still running on the adrenaline from their concert at the Museo de Bellas Artes, Berklee’s Interarts Ensemble went directly to a bembé celebrating the Yoruba diety Chango at the home of the musical Arango family. The two percussionist brothers and vocalist sister perform with their band (Hermanos Arango) internationally, and Eugenio, who is known for his work with Irakere and Pablo Milanes, had just performed with the Berklee students at the museum. His brother Feliciano is a pioneer of the timba style of bass in Cuban dance music.

Bembe at the Arangos'

Hansel Santos Gómez (leftmost drummer) takes a turn on the batás.

That night, the Arangos hosted batá drummers performing traditional rhythms to welcome the gods of the Yoruba religion, along with dancers who paid tribute to the Yoruba deities Oshun and Chango. Hansel Santos Gómez, the percussionist who accompanied the Berklee students in both their concerts that week, even stepped in for a song or two. He wasn’t the only one. The evening was completely interactive, with call-and-response singing as well as dancing that filled the Arangos’ entire backyard.

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¡Hola, Cuba!

Last week I followed a group of Berklee students to Havana, where they worked with Cuban students to create musical pieces influenced by their surroundings in less than a week. Electronic Production and Design (EPD) professor Neil Leonard handpicked the students in the Interarts Ensemble to go along with him on this trip: MP&E/EPD alumnus and pianist Enrico de Trizio, EPD major and bassist Katie Bilinski, pro music major and vocalist Julia Easterlin, and MP&E/EPD major and guitarist John Hull.

Interarts Ensemble in Cuba

The Interarts Ensemble and professor Neil Leonard at the home of Cuban musicians Eugenio and Feliciano Arango.

The ensemble is used to creating under pressure, having undertaken a similar trip to Italy in September. There, students recorded impulse responses and instrumental sounds in the Marble Caves of Carrara, ambient street noise of the medieval town of Fosdinovo, church bells, and sound unique to the Castello Malaspina, which they later manipulated and incorporated into their music. Instead of an Italian castle, here in Cuba they stayed in an apartment near their studio at the Laboratorio Nacional de Música Electroacústica, to get a feel for day-to-day life in Havana.

Stay tuned for updates about their work from Cuba.

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