The Cuban Research Institute (CRI) at Florida International University (FIU) held its annual “Classically Cuban: Music for Martí” concert at 5 p.m. on Sunday, December 9, 2012, at FIU’s Wertheim Performing Arts Center Concert Hall. FIU’s Latin American and Caribbean Center and Islas Canarias Restaurant cosponsored the event. More than 300 faculty, staff, students, and other members of the community attended the concert.
The program, chosen by the Cuban attorney, independent scholar, and collector Emilio Cueto, included musical pieces inspired by José Martí and poems by the Cuban apostle. The music was directed by Armando Tranquilino, composer, pianist, and FIU professor. This was the fifth year Cueto and Tranquilino collaborated to produce the concert series sponsored by the CRI. Debbie Orta, Luz Marina Salazar, and John Lucas performed the poems. Mike Orta, pianist, Orlando Machado, percussionist, and Nicky Orta, bassist, performed the musical pieces.
Among the concert pieces inspired by Martí’s life and works were “Himno a José Martí” (1905) by Hubert de Blanck (1856-1932) and the legendary “Clave a Martí,” composed in 1897 by José Tereso Valdés and for which Emilio Valdés Villillo wrote the lyrics in 1906. The poems written by Martí and music combinations performed included “Aquí está el pecho, mujer,” with music by Ernesto Lecuona (1895-1963); “Si ves un monte de espuma,” with music by Joaquín Nin-Culmell (1908-2004); and “Mi verso es como un puñal,” with music by Pablo Milanés (1943). For the concert, Armando Tranquilino (1959-) scored “Y te busqué.”
The concert closed with the universally recognized “Guantanamera,” including Martí’s “Versos sencillos,” scored by Joseíto Fernández (1908-1979) and Julián Orbón (1925-1991).
Since 1994, CRI has featured the annual concert series “Classically Cuban.” “This concert series is a CRI tradition that appeals to different sectors of our community because music has the power to unite people, especially since it deals with Martí,” said Professor Jorge Duany, Director of the institute since August 2012.