ReVista (Cambridge)

Articles from Vol. 15, No. 2, Winter

A Case of Extremes
A Case of Extremes Dancing with the Devil in the City of God: Río de Janeiro on the Brink by Juliana Barbassa (Simon and Schuster, 2015, 336 pages.).Juliana Barbassa and I have similar stories. We are both Brazilian with a chronic case of wanderlust,...
A Cellist in Exile
WHEN PABLO CASALS FIRST SET FOOT IN PUERTO Rico in 1955-his mother's native land- his life took a dramatic turn. At 79 years of age, any other musician of his artistic stature would have quietly retired, but he did quite the opposite. Not that the previous...
A Magical Journey
I GOT MY FIRST GUITAR FROM A CLASSMATE IN 1967 at age 17 in my last high school year at Liceo Vargas Calvo high school in San José, Costa Rica. I paid thirty colones (around five or six dollars) and gave him fourteen 45 RPM records in exchange for the...
A New Framework for Colonial Relationships
A New Framework for Colonial Relationships The Yaquis and the Empire: Violence, Spanish Imperial Power, and Native Resilience in Colonial Mexico by Raphael Brewster Folsom (Yale University Press, 2014, 312 pages.).Winner of the 2015 Latin American Studies...
A Roadmap for Gay Marriage
A Roadmap for Gay Marriage The Politics of Gay Marriage in Latin America: Argentina, Chile, and Mexico by Jordi Díez (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015, 302 pages).Despite its recent successes, the gay rights movement in Latin America is generally...
Bridges to Modern Medicine
WHEN YOU ASK PATIENTS ON the oncology ward at the University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti, to answer the question "What is cancer?" this is what they say: "Vreman, mwen pa konnen." Honestly, I don't know.Patients will say it's a disease that kills you....
Conflicted Musical Identities
TRAINING AS A CLASSICAL PIANIST IN MY NATIVE Ecuador was, to say the least, an identity struggle. As I learned the Western classical music canon-Chopin, Beethoven and others-I was confronted with how alien this music was to my upbringing. For my friends...
Contemporary Cuban Pianists
MUSIC FANS MIGHT THINK OF CUBA IN TERMS of salsa or nueva trova, but the country's pianistic tradition has built its world reputation. Few countries have had pianists as gifted as Cuba: from the 19th century, with the likes of Cervantes, Saumell and...
Dominican Bachata
ASK KIDS IN ANY U.S. URBAN MIDDLE SCHOOL if they know who Romeo is. They'll likely respond with an enthusiastic yes, but their answer will not refer to the Romeo in Shakespeare's classic play about star-crossed lovers, but rather, to the Dominican/Puerto...
El Camino Project
WITH THE LATEST ELECTION CAMPAIGN UPROAR about Mexican immigrants, the U.S. mainstream media may be paying attention to their political clout, but generally not to the contributions of Latinos to the civic culture of the Americas.When the U.S. media...
El Pututu
I FIRST TRAVELED TO PERU IN THE SUMMER OF 2009 as an overly enthusiastic freshman on her first archaeological field school. My destination was Chavín de Huántar- a 3,000-year-old temple complex in the Sierra of Ancash. I learned about the site when my...
Embera Music
THE EMBERA OF WESTERN COLOMBIA, ONE OF THE LARGEST INDIGENOUS groups in the country, have been victims of violence and displacement by the Spanish conquistadors, abandonment or outright hostility by modern national governments, destruction and displacement...
From Carmen Miranda to the Grateful Dead
IN THE 21ST CENTURY, FANS OF POPULAR MUSIC expect, or even demand, that all styles of music be in communication with each other. Sound scavengers like the American DJ Diplo have made their reputations by going into the favelas of Rio de Janeiro and coming...
From Nazis to Supermarkets
From Nazis to Supermarkets Beyond Bolaño: The Global Latin American Novel, by Héctor Hoyos. (Columbia University Press, 2015.)I often wonder what life would have held for the late Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño if he had not passed away due to liver complications...
Hips (and Numbers) Don't Lie
THE FIRST TIME I REMEMBER SINGING WAS AS a five-year-old on the way to the beach. Going to the beach is almost sacred- you have to go to the beach every Sunday when you live in a coastal town in Colombia. My parents commented on my very special voice....
La Habana Por Su Música
MY MOTHER LEFT CUBA JUST BEFORE THE BAY OF Pigs in 1961. She was six years old then, and she has never been back. When I arrived in Havana in June, I became the first person from my generation in my family to step foot on the island. I was there primarily...
Mauricio Kagel and Electroacoustic Music
WHEN MAURICIO KAGEL RETURNED TO HIS native Buenos Aires in 2006, 111 cyclists greeted the avant-garde composer by performing his theatrical composition, "Eine Brise." The festival in his honor, organized by the historic Teatro Colón, celebrated his decades...
Musical Identity
FRANKLY, I'M NOT USED TO TALKING ABOUT myself, and even less writing about myself. My way of expressing myself has been through musical notes, whether the buoyant Cuban clave rhythms or the equally ebullient American swing.I'm a Cuban saxophone player,...
Musical Slums
THE SMALL BUS WAS TRUDGING UP THE ALMOST vertical hill, swerving sharply to the leftto let offthe passengers. The street where I got offwas littered with electric cords and big piles of uncollected trash emitting an unbearable stench and inviting ominous...
Musical Transitions: Transnational Singer-Songwriters Give Voice to a Changing Cuba
CUBAN SINGER-SONGWRITER LUIS BARBERÍA'S album, A Full, was awarded the prize for best album in Cuba's annual music awards, Cubadisco in May 2015. Vocal group Sexto Sentido, the jazz piano of Harold López Nussa, and guitarist Nam Sam Fong accompanied...
Music and Nature
NATURE AND MUSIC ARE INTIMATELY CONnected. Almost as long as I have been a naturalist, these connections have been woven through my life. I have been playing drums since I was a boy. Though I played in a rock band in high school, I was trained in jazz...
Music for Social Change
WHEN DANILO PÉREZ URRIOLA, A SALSA SINGER in Panama, decided to study pedagogy in the 1960s, he faced a difficult challenge: a teaching internship in Colón, one of the poorest cities of the Republic of Panama. As a young and enthusiastic teacher, he...
Nature's Sonorous Politics: Music, Ecology, and Indigenous Activism in Andean Peru
THERE'S NO INDIGENOUS POLITICAL MOVEMENT in Andean Peru. This, at least, has been the consensus view of scholars since the 1990s, when protests organized by indigenous parties shook the foundations of nearby Bolivia and Ecuador. Peru has been a neighborhood...
New Life for the Violin in Mexico's Hotlands
ONCE UPON A TIME, THE MUSIC OF TIERRA Caliente was hidden treasure-wild and charismatic violin melodies lifted up by guitar chords, rooted in driving bass runs, and punctuated by varied sounds of a little drum called tamborita. The few who knew about...
Notes on Mexican Rock
SINCE THE 1960S, THERE'S BEEN A BOOMING underground rock scene in Mexico. It defines itself as countercultural, but not in absolute opposition to the mainstream- although sometimes it indeed is. Rather, the underground rock scene developed to seek inclusion...
Palenque Rhythms
SAN BASILIO PALENQUE, NOT FAR FROM COLOMBIA'S PRIME TOURIST destination of Cartagena, is the only surviving example of places that once existed throughout the country-communities founded by escaped slaves. It is also the home of what has been described...
Polkas in Paraíba
WE PULL UP TO THE SMALL PINK HOUSE PERCHED at the top of a steep, cobblestoned incline. It seems to float above the verdant Pernambucan hills, a jagged melody wafting from the wrought-iron bars of the exterior door. I peer out the window of the car and...
Regional Mexican Music
MEXICO'S PORT CITY OF VERACRUZ WAS ALIVE with music the week before Carnaval. Musicians, dancers, and audiences popped up on street corners, parks, and in driveways. Maybe it was the final stage of rehearsals. Or maybe the performers could not contain...
Soundscapes
When I was nine or ten, I learned to pick out two songs on the piano. One was "Jingle Bells." The other was "Que Sera Sera." My mother hummed that song a lot, and I always associated it with the tales of tropical breezes and colonial forts of my parents'...
Teatro del Lago
TEATRO DEL LAGO IN FRUTILLAR IN THE SOUTH of Chile offers spectacular views of lakes and volcanoes. This natural setting has attracted international and Chilean artists, ranging from Yo Yo Ma to Gil Shaham to the Bamberg Symphony, and the Youth Orchestra...
The Cactus Song
CAN CACTUSES MAKE MUSIC? THE ANSWER IS definitely yes.Argentine experimental composer Carmen Baliero took a look at cardones, a species of gigantic cactus (some are over 32 feet) that flourish in the Quebrada de Humahuaca, in Jujuy, Argentina. Seeing...
The Opportunity to Live a Life in Music
IN THE COBBLED STREETS OF CARTAGENA, where the sea meets with a land vibrant in history and beauty, music-in particular classical music-has become a protagonist during nine days of January since 2007. Musicians of all ages and backgrounds stroll around...
When Music Changes Lives
IN 2004, I GOT A SURPRISING PHONE CALL FROM Santo Domingo on one cold winter night. I was then studying musical composition in Strasbourg, France, a great opportunity for a young Dominican musician. The officials of the recently elected government of...
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