Chorus of approval
Campaign News | Wednesday, 4 July 2012
by Rob Miller for the Morning Star
Ask any devotee of Cuban music what's the latest world-class musical talent to emerge from the island and any number of hip-hop, salsa or jazz performers usually get a mention.
But breaking the mould is the Camerata Vocal Musica Aurea - the "Golden Music Choir" - a stunning young 14-piece ensemble from the city of Santiago currently on tour in this country.
Their repertoire is commendably ambitious and wide-ranging, encompassing German renaissance and romanticism along with US baroque and contemporary music.
Cuban composers such as Roberto Valera and the religious music of Esteban Salas, as well as popular Cuban "boleros" set to wonderful choral harmonies, also feature prominently in their performances.
But their eclectic repertoire isn't the only plus. Whatever Aurea perform is transformed into something delicate, moving, accessible and rhythmic - very different from the sound produced by British or European choirs.
Formed in 2002, Aurea is the youngest of three professional choirs in Santiago.
Aged approximately 21 to35, they practice together for at least four hours every day and sing everywhere at local and national events, in hospitals, prisons, workplaces and social centres. They often describe themselves as a family.
Delvis Sanchez, their award-winning musical director, also runs the local university choir and has vast experience of choral leadership with both children and adult groups. She worked closely with Electo Silva Gainza, a key figure in the development of the choral movement in Cuba post-revolution, which is committed to expressing the fullness of Cuba's rich musical heritage with its mix of African, Haitian and Spanish roots.
Delvis exudes enthusiasm and passion for the music combined with an absolute commitment to the highest standards and the purest vocal quality.
Members of Sheffield Socialist Choir met Aurea when participating in Santiago's biennial choir festival a few years ago and have since worked hard to bring the choir to Britain. The whole project, Voces De Cuba, is supported by the Music Fund For Cuba charity with support from the Arts Council.
Aurea are on tour until July 16, performing and running workshops in Sheffield, Edinburgh, Leeds and Bradford, York, Nottingham and London.
It's not to be missed - an Aurea performance, with its fabulous vocal blend and musicality, coupled with engaging performances and a winning spontaneity, really is something special.
On July 10 at Bolivar Hall in London Aurea's performance is accompanied by the premiere screening of a short film by Roberto Chile of the Miramar Theatre gala opening in Havana recently. Tickets (£12/£8) are available from the Cuba Solidarity Campaign on 020 8800 0155 and include a free Cuban cocktail.