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Symphony Space to Celebrate Afro-Cuban Culture with Block Party, Concerts, Films and More This May


Symphony Space is pleased to announce the first installment of The Source Project, a weeklong celebration tracing the influence of AFRICA on New World cultures. This inaugural year focuses on Afro-Cuban culture, with an enticing mix of music, documentaries, cocktails, and a talk on the island's undersea marvels.

The festivities begin on Sunday, May 1 (11 am - 2 pm) with "A Rumba in the Alley," a free block party with the Román Díaz Rumba Ensemble, and culminate in a show by the Pedrito Martinez Group with a rare appearance by legendary Cuban salsa vocalist Issac Delgado on Sunday, May 8 (7 pm).

Says Symphony Space's Artistic Director, Andrew Byrne, "For our first installment of The Source Project, I felt it was important to focus on a Caribbean nation very much in the news these days -- Cuba. For one week, the sights and sounds of Afro-Cuban culture will take over Symphony Space with a street party, film series, music of many types, dancing, and even a Science talk! A special thank you to our curator for the Project, Alexa Burneikis."

Tickets are available at As mentioned, the opening "Rumba in the Alley" on May 1 is free and open to the public.


- Sunday, May 1 (11 am - 2 pm): "A Rumba in the Alley" Román Díaz Rumba Ensemble with Sandy Pérez and Melvis Santa > Broadway between 93rd and 94th Streets Cuba's famous alleyway, the Callejon de Hamel, is a central gathering space where musicians, dancers, singers, and crowds meet and rumbas last all day. Symphony Space recreates this festive outdoor atmosphere with the help of Afro-Cuban percussionist Román Díaz, guest vocalists Sandy Pérez and Melvis Santa, his ensemble, and Cuban visual artist Carlos Mateu.

Regarding Román Díaz, Larry Blumenfeld recently wrote in Artinfo, "If you've never experienced real Cuban rumba, you've missed something that is singularly and at once both reverent and sensual, wild and yet deeply ordered, hard-hitting while also full of subtle cues and charms, and potent with the visceral sensations that can only come from repeated cycles of rhythms working as one... Since his arrival in New York City from his native Cuba in 1999, Díaz...has infused the city's jazz scene with a rare blend of expertise, energy, wit, and humor drawn from both Afro-Cuban culture and his own imagination."

- Monday, May 2 (7:30 + 9:30 pm): Boleros & Mojitos! With Xiomara Laugart > Bar Thalia (note: both sets are unreserved seating)
Sip Cuba's famous Mojitos as the sultry songstress Xiomara Laugart serenades with the romantic ballads (boleros) which made her an icon in her homeland. She will be accompanied by her son, Axel Laugart, on keyboards. Xiomara Laugart is currently a vocalist in Yerba Buena, whose first album, President Alien, was nominated for a Grammy. Originally from the Guantanamo province of Cuba, Laugart began her career at the age of 15, performing several different expressions of traditional and contemporary Cuban music. After recording self-titled albums in Cuba and winning several international awards, she moved to ROME and later to New York, where her monthly showcases at Greenwich Village's famed UNDERGROUND Zinc Bar have been called "legendary."

- Thursday, May 5 (7:30 pm): The Jazz Lounge with Yosvany Terry
> Leonard Nimoy Thalia
Composer and instrumentalist Yosvany Terry, a recipient of the prestigious Doris Duke Artist Award in 2015, hails from a musical family in Camagüey, a repository of traditional African culture and religion. This program features his band and special guests in performance and discussion on their musical heritage, education, and influences. His credits include Branford Marsalis, Rufus Reid, Dave Douglas, Steve Coleman, Roy Hargrove, Henry Threadgill, trumpeter Avishai Cohen, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Taj Mahal, and the Eddie Palmieri Afro-Caribbean Sextet. While best known as a blazing improviser, he's rapidly gaining renown as a composer, bandleader, and educator. His 2012 album Today's Opinion (Criss Cross) was selected as one of the Top 10 Albums of the Year by The New York Times's Nate Chinen. Terry's latest project, The Bohemian Trio, is a genre-defying contemporary music ensemble based in New York.

- Sunday, May 8 (7 pm): The Pedrito Martinez Group with Issac Delgado
Habana Dreams pre-release show
> Peter Jay Sharp Theater
A celebration of internationally-acclaimed conguero and rumbero Pedrito Martinez's upcoming album, Habana Dreams, with a rare appearance by Cuban sensation Issac Delgado, founder of the super group NG LA BANDA and one of the most popular salsa vocalists today. Dancing in the aisles is encouraged! Exclusive advance copies of Habana Dreams will be available for sale at the show.

Born in Havana, Pablo "Pedrito" Martinez is a consummate master of Afro-Cuban folkloric music. Says Wynton Marsalis, "Pedrito is a genius...working with him has been a revelation to me." He has performed and/or recorded with Paquito D'Rivera, Wynton Marsalis, Paul Simon, Eddie Palmieri, Bebo Valdés, Bruce Springsteen, Michelle Rosewoman, Cassandra Wilson; Arturo O'Farrill, Joe Lovano, Edie Brickell, Eliane Elias, Stefon Harris, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Sting, among many others. Equally at home in popular music, his perfectly intoned tenor voice seamlessly combines popular and folkloric influences, making him as formidable a front man as he is a percussionist. Martínez was a founding member of the highly successful Afro-Cuban/Afro-Beat band Yerba Buena, with which he recorded two albums and toured the world.

?Also born in Havana, Issac Delgado first rose to fame as lead vocalist for the group NG La Banda, the ensemble that launched the timba revolution, giving rise to the first new popular Cuban music genre in decades. NG LA BANDA attracted large audiences in Europe, Japan, Latin America, and the U.S. with their lively playing and 1992 hit album, En la Calle. The album contained the number one worldbeat single of the year, Necesito una Amiga. One of timba's best composers and a uniquely creative melodic improviser, he is known for his ability to improvise words and melodies continuously, for several minutes at a time.


In association with Havana Film Festival New York, Symphony Space's Thalia Docs presents Cuba Rhythms, a special series featuring rarely-screened works from the 60s to today. Many of them capture leading Cuban musical figures in performance and conversation. Together, these fascinating films illuminate a vibrant musical culture across five decades, from 1966 to the present. All of these screenings take place in the Leonard Nimoy Thalia.

- Sunday, May 1 (5 pm, 78') - Program 1
Con sabor a caña, tabaco y ron (1981):
Recounts anecdotes from the life of popular Cuban composer and singer Antonio Fernández (Ñico Saquito), while he plays some of his songs.
Descarga (1983)
Cuban singers Elena Burke, Moraima Secada and Omara Portuondo improvised in an informal section in which they sing popular songs from the 60s such as Mil congojas, Si me comprendieras, Cómo fue and Son al son. mi alma recuerdos (2002)
The Nueva Trova is not a genre or an artistic school. Rather, it is a musical movement that emerged in Cuba at the end of THE SIXTIES with singer/songwriters Silvio Rodríguez and Pablo Milanés as its two-main founders. Its origins, roots and inspirations are the topics of this film featuring Silvio Rodríguez, Noel Nicola, Sara González, Augusto Blanca and Vicente Feliú, among others.

- Sunday, May 1 (7 pm, 81') - Program 2
Con la misma pasión (1980)
Through personal accounts, archival footage and visual documentation we can learn of the amazing life of one of the greatest creators of Cuban music, singer-composer, Benny Moré.
Omara (1983)
This moving documentary is more than a biography of popular singer Omara Portuondo; it is a journey on the life and career of one of the greatest performers of this century. Omara talks of the love story of her parents, her participation in the musical quartet Las D'Aida and of music that serves as inspiration.
¿De donde son los cantantes...? (1976)
The Cuban Son is one of the most influential and widespread forms of Latin American music around the world. This is a tribute to the outstanding musicians who made this rhythm the most popular music rooted in the Cuban people.

- Saturday, May 7 (5 pm, 80') - Program 3
Como quiera canto yo (1979)
A rich panorama of Cuban music in which some of the most outstanding Cuban musicians journey through a variety of rhythms and melodies of Cuban pop music.
Obataleo (1988)
Grupo Síntesis recreates Yoruba music- a fundamental part of Cuba's cultural heritage- merging it with the sonority of northern rock. The result is a new explosion of a rhythmic and contagious character called danzario.
Son de almendra (1983)
To the beat of Abelardo Valdés' danzon, Almendra, interpreted by the group Irakere, the dancers Sonia Calero and Andrew Williams perform dance movements aided by a dancing bar and choreography by Alberto Alonso.
Los Zafiros (1966)
A musical of Los Zafiros (The Sapphires), a Cuban vocal group that was part of the filin movement, inspired by American bands. Their music was a Fusion of Cuban genres, such as bolero, son with R&B, Bossa NOVA and rock expressed in songs such as Y sabes bien, Mi oración and Rumba como quieras.
Panorama (1975)
A fascinating selection of scenes from the show "Panorama de la música y la danza cubanas" (Overview of the Cuban music and dance), of the collective Danza Nacional de Cuba (National Dance of Cuba), with choreography by Victor de Cuellar. This work is a combination of the most diverse musical expressions and Cuban performers, translated in the vocabulary of modern dance by the choreographer Victor de Cuellar.

- Saturday, May 7 (7 pm, 80') - Program 4
Hayun Grupo Que Dice... (2014)
Named after a song by Silvio Rodríguez, this documentary explores the history of ICAIC's Grupo de Experimentacion Sonora (GESI), a symbol of cultural resistance and creativity founded by Silvio Rordiguez Pablo Milanés, Eduardo Ramos, Sara Gonzales, Noel Nicola, and Leo Brower.


- Tuesday, May 3 (7:30 pm)
> Leonard Nimoy Thalia
Dive into Cuba's waters with marine biologist Fernando Bretos, director of the Cuba Marine Research and Conservation Program and curator of ecology at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science in Miami. Bridging the political gulf through scientific diplomacy, Bretos works alongside Cuban scientists, studying the island's remarkable sea creatures and coral reefs.

Symphony Space traces its beginnings to a free marathon concert, WALL TO WALL Bach, held in 1978 and organized by co-founders Isaiah Sheffer and Allan Miller. The music marathon then drew thousands of visitors and has since become one of the organization's signature events. Today Symphony Space presents more than 600 events each season, including music, dance, theater, film, and literary readings. Some of its

best known programs include Selected Shorts, a reading of short stories by stars of stage and screen, and one of the most popular series on public radio; National Theatre Live,broadcasting the best of British theatre to cinemas around the world; and Just Kidding, one of the most talked about family entertainment series around town. Uptown Showdown has been called "New York's best comedy series" by New York Magazine. For more information, visit

Symphony Space is located at 2537 Broadway at 95th Street. Box office hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 1 pm - 6 pm, open two hours prior to performances and events. Tickets can also be purchased through, or by calling 212/864-5400.

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