FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 7, 2012
Skirball Cultural Center welcomes back to L.A.
celebrated Cuban ensemble, of Buena Vista Social Club fame,
Thursday, April 5, 8:00 p.m.
$35 General; $30 Skirball Members; $25 Full-Time Students
Advance reservations: www.skirball.org or (877) SCC-4TIX
For general Skirball information, the public may call (310) 440-4500 or visit www.skirball.org.
LOS ANGELES—Making their long-awaited return to Los Angeles, Cuban music stars Sierra Maestra take the stage at the Skirball Cultural Center on Thursday, April 5, at 8:00 p.m. This Latin Grammy–nominated ensemble was the first and remains among the best modern-day groups to perform the salsa precursor known as son cubano, one of the most lively, influential, and widely played forms of Latin American music. Performing on the tres, guitar, trumpet, bongo, güiro, vocals, and more, Sierra Maestra has played a key role in the worldwide boom in traditional Cuban music, including as part of the now legendary Buena Vista Social Club.
Thirty-four years since its formation, Sierra Maestra is continually redefining the son music tradition for new generations and pioneering ways of reintroducing this lively music into the mainstream. The band maintains a full international touring and recording schedule. Its repertoire ranges from classics of the Golden Age of son to stirring original new works, including tracks from its latest album, Sonando Ya, which earned a 2010 Latin Grammy nomination.
About the Artists
Named after the birthplace of son, a mountain range in eastern Cuba, Sierra Maestra has been a star on the Cuban music scene for decades. The ensemble first performed in 1976 at the University of Havana, where the band members all studied. The aim then, as now, was to revive and re-explore son, the Cuban music style that rose to popularity in the 1920s but had long been forgotten. It was the first group of the modern era—and widely considered the best—to take on the old-style son line-up featuring the tres, guitar, trumpet, bongos, guïro, maracas, clave, and vocals. This revival of son was a sensation for a new generation of Cubans, and Sierra Maestra quickly rose to fame playing annual festivals at universities across Cuba and appearing on Cuban television.
In 1981, the group’s first record, Sierra Maestra Llegó con el Guanajo Relleno, received a silver disc, a composite award recognizing high sales as well as popular and critical acclaim. The band also won prizes for best recording, most popular song, and highest record sales in Cuba. 1981 was also the year of the band’s first foreign tour—to Nicaragua.
Sierra Maestra recorded its second LP, Y Son Asi, in 1982. Also that year, the band won the Girasol prize for most popular group and toured Angola and Nicaragua. In 1983, Sierra Maestra won the prestigious “Benny More” dance music prize and took part in the IV Song Festival held in Helsinki. The band then traveled to Sweden and France and to the International Film Festival in Spain, where it has played often over the years. In 1983, Sierra Maestra recorded the soundtrack to the Cuban TV series “Las Impuras.” The song “A Los Rumberos de Belen” was used by Robert Redford in his film The Milagro Beanfield War.
In 1994, during its European tour, Sierra Maestra recorded Dundunbanza (World Circuit Records), an extremely stylish mix of Arsenio Rodriguez tunes and other Cuban favorites.
Sierra Maestra has been instrumental in the recent global popularity of Cuban music. In 1995, the band’s former leader, Juan De Marcos González—now of the Afro Cuban All-Stars—paved the way for the recording of the famous Buena Vista Social Club album, on which four members of Sierra Maestra performed. Another former band member, Jesús Alemany, later formed the band ¡Cubanismo! Five of the original nine members remain in the ensemble.
In 2010, Sierra Maestra was nominated for a Latin Grammy for its latest album, Sonando Ya (World Village).
At the Skirball, the Sierra Maestra line-up will be as follows:
Eduardo Himel y Pino: bass, music director
Carlos Puisseaux Masfarroll: guïro, vocals
Alejandro Suárez Galarraga: percussion, vocals
Luis Barzaga Sosa: claves, vocals
Virgilio Valdés Decalo: maracas and vocals
Emilio Ramos Batista: tres
Eduardo Rico Menédez: congas, bongos
Jesús Bello Díello Díaz: guitar, vocals
Yelfris Valdes Espinosa: trumpet, vocals
Friday, May 4, 8:00 p.m.*
$25 General; $15 Skirball Members and Full-Time Students
Rescheduled date! Making her U.S. debut, singer, songwriter, and dancer Sayon Bamba—former lead singer of renowned Guinean band Les Amazones de Guinée—brings her singular voice and exuberant Afrobeat music to the Skirball. A hit at world music festivals across France, Bamba is also a passionate advocate for women’s equality and an outspoken activist against the practice of female genital cutting. Her music blends traditional Manding influences with French lyrics and diverse influences. Presented in association with the exhibition Women Hold Up Half the Sky, on view through May 20.
* Women Hold Up Half the Sky will remain open until the concert start time of 8:00 p.m. Program ticketholders gain free gallery admission.
About the Skirball
The Skirball Cultural Center is dedicated to exploring the connections between 4,000 years of Jewish heritage and the vitality of American democratic ideals. It welcomes and seeks to inspire people of every ethnic and cultural identity. Guided by our respective memories and experiences, together we aspire to build a society in which all of us can feel at home. The Skirball Cultural Center achieves its mission through educational programs that explore literary, visual, and performing arts from around the world; through the display and interpretation of its permanent collections and changing exhibitions; through an interactive family destination inspired by the Noah’s Ark story; and through outreach to the community.
Visiting the Skirball
The Skirball Cultural Center is located at 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90049. Free on-site parking is available; street parking is strictly prohibited. The Skirball is also accessible by Metro Rapid Bus 761. Museum hours: Tuesday–Friday 12:00–5:00 p.m.; Saturday–Sunday 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.; closed Mondays and holidays. Museum admission: $10 General; $7 Seniors, Full-Time Students, and Children over 12; $5 Children 2–12. Exhibitions are always free to Skirball Members and Children under 2. Exhibitions are free to all visitors on Thursdays. For general information, the public may call (310) 440-4500 or visit www.skirball.org. The Skirball is also home to Zeidler’s Café, which serves innovative California cuisine in an elegant setting, and Audrey’s Museum Store, which sells books, contemporary art, music, jewelry, and more.