United by the Music

United by the Music
by Félix Martínez Marrero

What is trova and how did it become part of typical Puerto Rican music? When is it heard? The trova is the poetic composition composed to be sung. It is the typical music of our ancestry. The trova is significant as a cultural expression. It is heard all year, although some relate it mostly to the Christmas season.

Like most Puerto Ricans who emigrate to the United States in search of a prosperous future for their families, 48 years ago, my parents and their 11 children did the same. One of those children was me. Although I came to Rochester as a young man, I have never stopped longing for my beautiful island, our culture and the neighborhood where I was born. That’s how music became my refuge, becoming the consolation of longing for the soil where I was born. From here came my dream of one day to record a CD of typical music. The years went by and I continued to be involved in music with Pedro Núñez, the Maso Rivera of Rochester who may rest in peace and Marcos Santiago, among others. Even if the temperature was below zero, I did not miss a “parranda”.

Six years ago I started trying to make my dream come true, but for one reason or another I could not achieve it. One day, talking with my wife Margarita, I decided to start communicating with friends who are involved in the music to see if I could achieved my purpose. I spoke with my friend Eliú De Jesús in Florida, who put me in touch with Josean Feliberty Colon in Puerto Rico and I from Rochester, NY, how would we achieve this get-together? It was this way that JFC Home Studio in Ciales, PR, Freddygeezstudio in Rochester, NY, and EDR Studios in Groveland, FL, joined by the music and started my long-awaited project. We started to decide which topics we would include: seises, aguinaldos, trullas… The recordings began in three different studios, “UNITED BY THE MUSIC”. Everything was ready with plans to go on the market in October 2017 and Hurricane María hit PR. It was necessary to postpone the release of the CD.

Originally the CD included eight songs. During the wait and hearing about the suffering of our Puerto Rican brothers, we were inspired by the last song which became the number one on the CD “Puerto Rico Rise Up” (Puerto Rico se Levanta in Spanish). Now the CD contains nine songs with five styles of six, three aguinaldos and a trulla. Each one with an original message of nostalgia for the country, a love story, a biblical message, a cultural controversy, a tribute to Don Pedro Núñez, among others. By obtaining this CD, you will join us, through music, to promote our cultural heritage and although far from the Puerto Rican soil, we will always carry it proudly in our hearts.

Artistic Father of the Cuban Musicians

Hubert De Blanck: Artistic Father of the Cuban Musicians
by Ana María Ruimonte, www.ruimonte.us

While I was in Havana in June, the one and only maestro Huberal Herrera invited me to attend a beautiful concert titled “Spanish Cuban Romantic Music from the 19th Century” at the “Palacio de los Matrimonios” (Marriage Palace in English), on Sunday, June 24th at 11 am.

The pianists Lisa María Blanco and Yanner Rascón played delightful compositions by Cecilia Arizti Sobrino and Nicolás Ruíz Espadero, and the actress Natasha Díaz read poems by Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda and José Martí. But what excited me most was what followed: The performance by the maestro Huberal Herrera who played The Beautiful Cubana by José White and also five great compositions by Hubert de Blanck: “Study in e minor”, “Over the tomb of Ma-ceo”, “Viennese Waltz”, “Toccata in A minor” and “Variations on the Hymn of Bayamés”.

These pieces were characterized by a progression of slow and fast rhythms; ascending and descending arpeggios across the entire eight octaves of the piano; deeply profound, pedal tones reflecting the solemn sections; sweet waltz rhythms; influences of Bach and Wagner, contrapuntal fugues with variations and cannon; agile strumming, staccato, trills and theatrical expressivity. The pieces demonstrated maestro Herrera’s range of expression and facility in this gorgeous collection of pieces by the composer.

The story of Hubert de Blank exhilarates me. When he was young, Belgium’s King Leopold the Second awarded de Blanck a grant to study music wherever he decided. Then de Blank traveled to Colonia in Germany. There he met a Brazilian violinist, Eugene -Maurice Dengremont and they create a duo together. They toured throughout Europe and in the Americas they performed in Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires and New York. Hubert de Blanck gained a position as professor of piano at the College of Music in New York; where he met the Cuban Ana María García Menocal and they married there in 1881. They went to Havana for Christmas in 1882. Just one year later, the couple moved to live in Havana. They had 5 sons, the oldest named Guillermo. When Ana María died, de Blanck married Pilar Martín and they had 3 more children. Hubert de Blanck incorporated the music and rhythms of Cuban into his musical life. He obtained Cuban citizenship and in 1885 founded Cuba’s first Conservatory of Music, which to this day bears his name and continues to train the best young Cuban musicians. Eventually, de Blanck was forced into exile as a result of his politics, particularly his pro-independence activism. He composed many piano pieces, and also the opera “Patria” (Homeland). He is buried in the Colon cemetery in Havana.

Maestro Huberal Herrera is the most recognized interpreter of the music of Hubert de Blanck. Indeed Maestro Herrera owns an extensive collection of his compositions, some otherwise unavailable, given to him by de Blanck’s son Guillermo Menocal, who was Herrera’s teacher.

Such an exceptional composer and magnificent interpreter!

Ana María Díaz was born in Madrid and obtained her Master of Arts in voice with the specialty of Opera at the Escuela Superior de Canto in Madrid. Presently, she lives in Philadelphia. Opera singer and writer of reviews of opera and other artistic activities, she is President of Owlsong Productions, Inc. Ana María Díaz belongs to the duo Soprano Meets Contrabass with her husband Alan Lewine, performing original arrangements of arias and songs for soprano and jazz contrabass with flamenco influences in the recital “800 years of music in less than 2 hours”. Ana María Díaz is a member of Opera America in New York, UNIMA-USA, Early Music America and Women in the Music.

Ana María Díaz has written and produced a bilingual musical Baroque theatrical performance titled “Burn, Heart, Burn” as a commemoration of the artists from 17th Century Spain and America with puppets using elaborate period costumes, songs and brief stories. The songs are recorded in her CD “Arded, Corazón, Arded”. Ana María been collaborating with “CNY Latino” Newspaper with her column titled “Burn, Heart, Burn” since the beginning of 2015.

Cycles of Stigma

Cycles of Stigma: How Prohibition Makes Sex Work and Drug Use Even More Dangerous
by Maximilian Eyle

June was Pride Month in America, and this year’s theme in New York City was “Defiantly Different”. It represents a chance to push back against the stigma surrounding LGBTQ identities and lifestyles while celebrating the diversity of self-expression that exists within the LGBTQ community. When we talk about stigma in this context, it is usually regarding a lack of acceptance of the individual’s sexuality on the part of the family or by society. What is less frequently acknowledged is that the manifestation of this stigma often sets off a chain reaction as the individual struggles to cope with the trauma of their sexual identity being denied or ridiculed.

When we think about where LGBTQ culture shines brightest, big cities come to mind. Metropolitan areas like New York City act as magnets for members of the LGBTQ community nationwide due to the more progressive mentality toward sexuality and the greater availability of support resources. The stigma associated with non-heteronormative lifestyles in many areas of the U.S., particularly rural communities and small towns, often makes it unpleasant and even unsafe to live openly there.

As these stigmatized people seek a new life in a more accepting environment, they often carry heavy burdens. Some are material, like the struggle to survive financially in an expensive and foreign environment like New York City. Others are emotional, like the memories of having been spurned by friends and family where you grew up. Though there may be less anti-LGBTQ sentiment in a metropolitan area like New York, many who come to such a large city find themselves unable to survive financially.

For members of the transgender community, their ability to conceal their sexual identity can be more difficult than for gays or lesbians. When faced with this added barrier to entering the “traditional” workforce, some will inevitably turn to sex work as a means of survival. The National Transgender Discrimination Survey studied this and other issues among 6,400 transgender adults nationwide between 2008 and 2009. It found that, “An overwhelming majority (69.3%) of [transgender] sex workers reported experiencing an adverse job outcome in the traditional workforce, such as being denied a job or promotion or being fired because of their gender identity or expression.”

Because prostitution is illegal in the vast majority of the United States, legal and social repercussions face those who choose this line of work, needlessly stigmatizing them and making their lives less safe. They are forced to enter the black market, put themselves at risk for arrest, and are limited in their ability to receive access to contraception, STD testing, and other essential healthcare resources. Though heterosexual prostitution is also stigmatized, the taboo tends to be greater for gay or transgender sex workers.

If the person has been arrested for drug use, finding a traditional employment path will be particularly difficult if not impossible. Again we see the damaging influence of stigma appear – this time in the context of drug use. The War on Drugs has conditioned society to regard substance use as a moral failing, much like many anti-gay groups view LGBTQ lifestyles as morally wrong. Our justice system advances this perspective by incarcerating and punishing these individuals, adding the inescapable and institutionalized stigma of a criminal record.

Just as prohibiting sex work makes it even more dangerous, the most dysfunctional and destructive aspects of drug use are usually products of prohibition rather than of the substance itself. Consider overdoses, which almost always result from the user’s inability to know the content, purity, or strength of what they are ingesting. In the U.S., where nearly 65,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2016, users are buying their drugs on the black market. They cannot know what they are consuming, and their purchases fuel a black market worth over $100 billion annually. In Switzerland, where the government started giving opioid users access to pharmaceutical heroin and other opioid substitutes dispensed in a clinical setting, their overdose rate dropped by half and the rate of HIV infection dropped by 65%. Furthermore, the rate of new users there has declined. This harm reduction practice puts users in contact with medical staff without the pressure to change their lifestyle or usage.

The long history of stigmatizing members of the LGBTQ community increases the rate of trauma and abuse. (77% of transgender sex workers experienced harassment during childhood after expressing their transgender identity.) The continued discrimination that is present as transgender people enter the workforce forces them to find alternatives in the black market, bringing with it further stigma and legal peril. The consequences of this are dire. The attempted suicide rate of transgender sex workers is over 60%.

The legal system’s practice of legislating morality via the criminalization of drugs as well as sex work only serves to exacerbate the potential dangers of these behaviors by limiting the available resources and adding to the stigma felt by drug users and sex workers. Compassion, not punishment, should be the underlying philosophy behind our public policy. The social and legislated stigma felt by people who are drug users, sex workers, LGBTQ, or a combination thereof, is a cruel burden that must be lifted before we can truly hope to help the most at-risk members of our communities.

Maximilian Eyle is a native of Syracuse, NY and a graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He works as a media consultant and writes each month about a variety of issues for Spanish-language papers across New York State. Maximilian has a love of Hispanic culture and learned Spanish while living in Spain where he studied and worked as an English teacher. He can be contacted at maxeyle@gmail.com.

Sweet Corn Bread with Goat Cheese

COOKING
by Suellen Pineda, RDN, CDN

Torta or pan de elote (Spanish for Cornbread) is a dense and moist type of sweet bread. It doesn’t have the texture of traditional cornbread. Traditionally, pan de elote is sweetened with condensed milk. In this recipe, I substituted condensed milk for low-fat evaporated milk—which by definition, it is not generally recommended—To compensate for the lack of sweetness and thick texture of condensed milk, I added creamy goat cheese and some sugar. Even after adding these two ingredients, I was able to reduce the calorie content by 100 calories per serving (298 calories per serving with condensed milk vs. 187 with evaporated milk) and about 14 tablespoons less sugar. So, although this recipe may not be as sweet as traditional pan de elote, it is definitely an excellent option to cut down on sugar and calories.

Prep: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 35-40 minutes
Yields: 9 servings
Difficulty: easy
Calories per serving: approx. 187

Ingredients

1 15oz can, unsalted sweet corn (Use fresh if available)
1 can low-fat evaporated milk
4 oz. plain goat cheese
3 eggs
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
6 Tbsps. whole-wheat flour
4 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt

Method

• Pre-heat oven to 375F
• Grease a baking dish with butter and sprinkle with flour OR use line it with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking oil
• In a blender, put all ingredients and blend until fully incorporated
• Pour mixture in prepared baking dish
• Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or when it turns golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
• Serve warm or chilled.

Enjoy!

Suellen is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in the Rochester, NY area. Connect with her at suellenpinedaRDN@gmail.com or follow her on Instagram at @Suellen_Pineda

Diseños Milagros, Book of Cut and Modern Sewing

by Milagros Martínez Machado

Diseños Milagros was made with the idea of sharing classes or workshops on clothing in general that is, for children, men and women and created with a simple to understand language. If the instructions are followed properly, you will get the perfect pattern, which in turn will lead you to achieve a good suit, which suits your figure with great style.

This project has been studied for many years. Throughout our study we realized that in this field of fashion there are few publications in Spanish, both in the school system and at bookstores throughout the country. On an international level publishers are searching for all types of literature in Spanish. This places a high level of interest, especially in the countries of Central and South America. This book of Milagros’ Designs, causes great interest for all those who promote the education of the minority class. For those who do not have a trade. This book promises to train great professionals in the field of fashion; men in particular have been great designers such as Valentino, Oscar De La Renta, and others who have great boutiques of exclusive clothes around the world.

My greatest inspiration has been my sons Henry Salinas and Richard Delgado and I dedicate this project to them, as well as to the women who have had to raise their children alone and who through this book can acquire the means to get ahead and have a lucrative profession and be successful.

Special thanks to my good friend Julia Zurita who believed in my idea and was always by my side as I made this dream a reality.

Milagros Martínez Machado was born in Havana, Cuba, on January 12, 1966. Daughter of Milagros Machado and Ricardo Martínez. Despite having been raised within the communist system of Fidel Castro’s regime in Cuba, her childhood was very beautiful and humble with her four siblings, whom she always remembers very dearly.

Since she was little girl, she demonstrated her love for sewing and fortunately for her, in front of her house lived Mrs. Marta Alfonzo, a well-known seamstress in the neighborhood, who had graduated from the Elia Rodriguez Rocha system. Milagros began to receive cutting and sewing classes. Acquiring a lot of knowledge and learning how to transform patterns. Then while learning she did all the finishing work in the seams that Marta was making. Later, she attended a small course that the Cuban government gave in the Cotorro Municipality that was called Ana Betancour.

Years later, Marta died, and Milagros continued to be part of her work. She also received the qualification of Seamstress A in men’s clothing for a government factory in Cuba that was located in Alverro, Cotorro. When she began her studies at the university, on February 12, 1991, she traveled to the United States with a Humanitarian Visa due to health problems with her son, Henry Salinas. Who was a recipient of a kidney transplant that his father donated. The transplant was carried out at The University of Miami. During all that time she was helping with the household with her knowledge in sewing, making clothing for friends and acquaintances. She devoted herself to making wedding dresses for brides and their bridesmaids.

She became a Volunteer as a Public Relations Officer, for more than seven years she dedicated her time to promoting the myths and realities of transplantation in Hispanic communities and helped many families to receive information and support. She was featured on different television channels such as 51, channel 23 and channel 4 of Miami. She was invited to the programs of Don Francisco and Cristina. Then she appeared in different radio stations within Miami such as, Radio Mambí and the WBQA.

In 1997, her second son Richard Delgado was born, who brought both Milagros and Henry his brother, an immense happiness. Milagros continued taking care of her children while working at home. The family moved to Homestead where Milagros continued with her promotion in favor of organ transplantation, achieving that members of the group Los Tigres del Norte donate $5 of each ticket to the concerts in favor of organ donation.

At Florida International University she obtained her certification as a Nutritionist. She obtained a master’s degree in Psychology from the UNPI International Our Pact University. She continued her studies and successfully completed the studies of Theology at the Hispanic Institute of Theology, being a pioneer of the First Hispanic Lutheran Ministry of West Palm Beach. She also studied to work as a Volunteer Teacher of the Day Care Head Start Program. For health reasons she retired from the Ministry and but she still teach English classes she for Hispanics at Our Savior Church in Lake Worth.

Along with lawyers Irvin Gonzalez and Jose Lagos, she was an activist for the TPS Law for immigrants. She also collaborated with the Association of Cuban Art and Culture of West Palm Beach, making the costumes of all the presentations that the organization made. She was the Producer of the television program “La Pelota Infantil” on channel 12, local West Palm Beach. She also hosted her own radio show on 1340AM in Lake Worth. She ventured into producing and directing the “La Voz de West Palm Beach “talk show program in the mentioned radio station in Lake Worth, along with her son Henry Salinas.

“Queen of Mariachi” Prepares New Album!

by Katherine Glen

If someone enjoys singing ranchero music that is THE QUEEN OF MARIACHI, (“La Reina Del Mariachi” in Spanish) Katherine Glen. The name that her audience baptized her with for many years! An artist born in the United States who interprets Mariachi songs for all Latinos and New Yorkers alike. A singer with a lot of Charisma that fills the audience with sold out shows. La Reina del Mariachi (The Queen of Mariachi) is also a writer, who has published 10 books of poetry, revealed details of the preparation of her musical album.

“There are 6 songs that I wrote with a lot of love for all my fans. I recorded at a studio where celebrities such as Mariah Carey and artists of the Sony Music caliber recorded”, explained. With Colombian parents, La Reina del Mariachi fell in love with Mariachi music since she was little, when her mother bought a record of this genre and decided to change the vallenato and salsa, by the songs of Lola Beltrán, Juan Gabriel and Ana Gabriel.

“The first song that is on my album of the released songs is titled” La Reina Del Mariachi” and then follows, “How Much I Miss You”, “Baby Kisses”, “You Played with My Love”, “I Want to Know” and “Like a Dove”. These are the themes that I wrote many years ago and that tell a story. I have sung many songs in the genre of Mariachi, but for me, these songs have been the hardest to interpret, said the star.

“The first year that I competed in the First Univision Mariachi Festival, next to Mariachi Vargas and in which Ana Bárbara was a judge, was with that theme and I was among the first six finalists”, the only Winner in the state of New York. I have many songs written, since I like to write and every day I get inspired more!.

She thanked all the community and followers for the support they have given her during her career.

“My followers are mostly Mexican, but I have fans from all over the world, although I am especially grateful to the Mexican community because throughout my career they have opened the doors”, she said.

Next week she will perform on a Telemundo Network program and then start her promotional tour.

“I have planned the promotion of the album in California, Miami, Mexico and Colombia; on radio and television, “concluded Glen, who has opened concerts for Juanes, Shakira, Marco Antonio Solís and many more!

Find her on youtube; La Reina Del Mariachi and on google play, iTunes Mazon and all digital platforms or you can go to her website at www.La-Reina-Del-Mariachi.com.

The dangers of living in an Echo Chamber

by David Alfredo Paulino

As a society, the internet has been regarded as the great equalizer, it allows us to acquire most if not all the information in the world in the blink of an eye. Now in 2018, while that is most certainly the truth there seems to have been some complications with the internet and the kinds of information that one can receive. The internet has been transformed into informational camps created to house different tribes. The most famous of the tribes are the right, the left, conservatives, liberals, progressives…etc.

One would have thought that as a society this kind of tribalism would have been left in the past, since I thought that we have come to the realization that tribalism leads to a rigid and homogenous kind of environment. To stay in a rigid and homogenous environment stunts growth, maturity, and learning. 22 years ago, in 1996, MIT researchers, Marshall Van Alstyne and Erik Brynjoflsson thought of the potential negative aspect of such a connected world, “Individuals empowered to screen out material that does not conform to their existing preferences may form virtual cliques, insulate themselves from opposing points of view, and reinforce their biases”. Both researches were able to foresee the kind of environment that would be created.

It seems that people are just too scared to just listen to others just for the sake of being proven wrong, because if they are proven wrong then that means that their way of thinking was wrong and so on and so forth. Social media has become this echo chamber where we only hear and see the same kind of information that we are used to already seeing. The danger of living in that kind of environment is that it creates a box that one hides themselves in, and it also supports the mindset that everything one needs is inside this box and everything outside of it is wrong. This kind of thinking does not support diversity if anything it fragments and divides us.

Currently, it seems that nobody can have a peaceful discourse without a giant uproar or a screaming match between two parties. We now speak to disrupt and get our point across rather than listening and understanding each other. Just because one listens and tries to understand the other parties does not mean that you necessarily agree with them. This is how conflicts happen and inevitably wars begin.

Just because you do not agree with somebody does not mean that that person should not be able to express their opinion. This is regarding to many talks having to been cancelled due to students organizing and causing disruptions. If anything, those that do not agree with said speaker should attempt to have a conversation about why they may think that they are wrong. Denying the other side is essentially part of the problem, it does not allow for the diversity and inclusion of the other. This is not to lay blame at a specific realm of thought, if anything having everyone’s reluctant to understand the other side is problem.

This homogenous environment stunts our growth and our potential prosperity as a society. I would love to continue this kind of conversation if any are willing through twitter, follow @Alfredo_David1, so that we may try to understand each other a bit more.

My name is David Alfredo Paulino. I graduated from SUNY Cortland with a international studies major with a concentration in Global Political Systems and my minors are Anthropology, Latin American Studies, and Asia and the Middle East. I was born in Manhattan, NYC, but I currently live in the Bronx with my Mother, little sister, and Stepfather. Although I was born here, most of my fondest memories come from my frequent visits to the Dominican Republic, and always being there. I even stayed there for a year. Due to my constant going back and forth, I grew to love the atmosphere there and sometimes I yearn for it more than the actual city.