“Thanks for the Wonderful Gift of Music”

by Ana María Ruimonte, www.ruimonte.us

José Martí was born in Havana, Cuba in 1853. His parents were from Spain. He lived in exile in Spain due to his support for the

The New CD “Sencillamente Martí”. photo by Ana María Ruimonte

Cuban rebels. He later travelled to Mexico where he started writing for “Revista Universal”. There he developed the concept of a common Latin American cultural land, Our America. He is known as the Apostle of Cuban Independence. 

Between 1881 and 1895, he lived in New York. Martí looked for a political future for Cuba as independent of Spain and free from the interference of the United States. He fought for racial equality in Patria, the newspaper of the Revolutionary Cuban Party that he founded.  In 1895, he became a martyr for the Cuban cause.

José Martí wrote the poems he published as Simple Verses (Versos Sencillos) were written in Haines Falls in the Catskill mountains in the state of New York in 1890. These verses are autobiographical, and “they sprout from the heart” of the poet and they are full of memories of his experiences.

The CD Sencillamente Martí is the first volume of a bigger collection of songs settings of some of the poetic lyrics of José Martí. It contains Cinco Canciones Cubanas (Five Cuban Songs) by Huberal Herrera, Canciones Transparentes (Transparent Songs) by Aurelio de la Vega and the song Penas (Pities) by Harold Gramatges. 

Ana María Ruimonte, Iván Valiente (back shown conducting), Mayté Aboy, Jacqueline Pancorbo and Alejandro Rodríguez. photo by Alan Lewine

During the Contemporary Music Festival in Havana in November at Oratorio San Felipe Neri in Havana and Sala José White in Matanzas, UNEAC presented in concert Ana María Ruimonte, Spanish/American soprano, with Huberal Herrera, piano and composer, and Alan Lewine, contrabass, and also Mayté Aboy, piano, Alejandro Rodríguez, cello, Jacqueline Pancorbo (replacing Flavia Méndez who appeared on the CD) on clarinet, under the direction of  José Iván Valiente, performing the new release Sencillamente Martí.

It was during the Havana Contemporary Music Festival organized by UNEAC, which took place in November, with concerts at the San Felipe Neri Oratory in Havana and the José White de Matanzas Hall.

We held a “Meet the Composer” with Huberal Herrera and Aurelio de la Vega, (appearing through a recorded video), at the Birthplace Museum of José Martí in Havana. During this meeting Huberal Herrera exclaimed categorically: “I consider the human being as Universal!”.

My interest in José Martí began while walking in the streets of Havana, where I saw many busts and sculptures of the poet in

Alejandro Rodríguez, Alan Lewine, Huberal Herrera, Iván Valiente, Ana María Ruimonte, and Mayté Aboy with Jacqueline Pancorbo (sitting). photo by Pancorbo

houses and public squares. Then in New York’s Central Park I saw the huge sculpture of Martí on his horse, depicted at the moment he was killed and falling off his horse. You can see it just inside the park by Central Park South where Sixth (Avenue of Americas) ends. Why do United States citizens show us Martí this way, in death, to eternalize his final moment? Ana María Ruimonte.

In his Los Angeles home, maestro Aurelio de la Vega, who turned 95 years old on Thursday November 28 – on Thanksgiving Day, happily received the news of the premier in Cuba of his Transparent Songs. 

Zorimé Caturla is the granddaughter of the prolific modernist Cuban composer Alejandro García Caturla. He played several instruments such as piano, violin, brass instruments, and he was also a lawyer and judge.  

My grandfather was an extraordinary man who gave his life for justice. He left a vast body of musical works and although I didn’t have the good fortune to meet him in life, my grandmother taught me to love him through her stories and through exposure to his music over the years. Later, I had the opportunity to play and also record some of his orchestral works with the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba, where whom I have played flute for many years. My grandfather is my idol because he gave me his music that I love so much and that I enjoy and truly identify with. He marked the destiny of my life. I want to thank my grandparents for this wonderful present. Zorimé Caturla.

Huberal Herrera in Havana and Sala José White in Matanzas after the concert. photo by Alan Lewine

As part of the program The Era of Modernism, Ana María and Zorimé premiered in Cuba pieces by Joaquín Rodrigo and Otto Luening with lyrics by Juan Ramón Jiménez and Walt Whitman. 

I am so grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with wonderful musicians such as maestro Huberal Herrera and Zorimé Caturla. For Thanksgiving Day, I want to say that I feel really happy to announce the creation of a new musical duet called Dúo Caturla to present Modernist pieces in Latin America, and that pulls us together as a collaboration among Cuba, Spain, the United States and all of Latin America. Ana María Ruimonte.

Dúo Caturla performs pieces by composers such as Ernesto Lecuona, Alejandro García Caturla, Joaquín Rodrigo, Otto Luening, Edmund Cionek or Jasna Veljanovic. We also collaborate with maestro Huberal Herrera on piano and Alan Lewine on bass.

After the Festival in Cuba, we presented the CD in Philadelphia in the program titled “The Era of Modernism” as part of the project “Slavery, Miscegenation and Liberation” with success. In this program, we showed how José Martí is artistically related to Walt Whitman, while enjoying the music by Otto Luening with Walt Whitman’s poetry as lyrics, by Joaquín Rodrigo with Juan Ramón Jiménez, and by Ernesto Lecuona with Gustavo Sánchez Galarraga.

It is very interesting to see how the last two artists showed us the situation of the slaves in Cuba through the zarzuela, our

Ana María Ruimonte with a bust of José Martí at the Malecón in La Habana. photo by Alan Lewine.

Spanish and Latin American lyric operetta. I am inspired by the movement of Modernism, that looks for freedom and equality through poetry and journalism, and other arts such as music or painting. Ana María Ruimonte.

Zorimé Caturla poses with a photo of her grandfather at the Matanzas Library

……. To get the new CD: : https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/anamariaruimonte3/