stage view of fiesta de tambor

Havana’s Annual Percussion Festival

ByYami Cabrera (Cuban musicologist and Business Development Director of Havana Music Tours and Musical Getaways)

Fiesta del Tambor is the Havana’s Annual Percussion Festival. This Music Festival finds space in every corner of Havana to begin the “rumba” and celebrate. In addition, it allows the exchange of musical cultures from around the world. The festival that we will be dedicated to is this blogpost.

In the last 18 Edition of the Festival and competition, Fiesta del Tambor “Guillermo Barreto in Memoriam”, a tribute was made to Spain, a country that gave birth to many styles of Cuban music and that still keeps latent such inescapable connection that unites both countries. A week where both cultures came together in rumbas, bulerías, couplets, rhythmic and even Jazz, to be enjoyed by all audiences. The doors were opened for a long-awaited meeting with well-known Spanish artists and groups in Cuba, such as Ketama, Patax, and Falete, and other excellent musicians, such as the pianist Laura de Los Angeles and Israel Suárez “El Piraña”.

Drums, pailas, and congas were a crucial part of these shows. Without exaggeration, the duets were stunning in the drums starring the young pillars of Cuban percussion, such as Rodney Barreto, Oliver Valdés, Ruly Herrera, and Ruy Adrián López Nussa, who were joined by improvisations by Giraldo Piloto and Samuel Formell, with their respective orchestras Klímax and Van Van.

The rumba had a special space, the “Salon de la Rumba” dressed up to receive thousands of followers of the genre inside and outside of Cuba. Stage that warmly welcomed groups, such as Yoruba Andabo, Ronald and Explosión Rumbera, Obbini Batá and the Mutanquitos de Matanzas.

On the other hand, there were a lot of people attending Casa de la Música de Plaza 31 and 2 to learn and apprehend updated ways of interpreting percussion instruments, through the master classes of Cubans Rodney Barreto (drums), Tomás Ramos “el Panga” (congas) and the Spanish drawer Israel Suárez “el Piraña”. A musical space also gives birth to many young Cuban percussionists, who were amongst the participants of the International Percussion Competition.

Undoubtedly, this is a necessary event for the development of Cuban music, inside and outside this island, both for its educational value and its ability to unveil the valuable history of its instruments and roots through the symbolic and leading role in performing the drums. This party has the courage to go beyond the stereotypes that stalk Cuban music, bringing all kinds of audiences closer to the consumption of good live, latent, and unbreakable Cuban music.

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