Piano Festival from Brazil: Starts March 23, 2021

“Primórdios do piano no Brasil” is a six episode series that starts tonight at 8:00 pm (São Paulo time), 7:00 pm EST. Tonight’s episode features music by Francisca “Chiquinha” Gonzaga, one of my favorites. Hercules Gomes and other pianists will be playing over the next 5 days. Check it out: https://linktr.ee/herculesgomesshows

“El significado de mi nombre”: Latin American Video Showcase

In English it is “The Meaning of My Name.” Check out the video festival online from Feb. 25-March 25. It includes 7 artists from the United States, Chile and Colombia. Each makes a video which relates to their name in Spanish, with English subtitles. There is a minimal fee to stream each video on VIMEO. This event is produced by Laboratorio Acciones Diversas con apoyo de Salome Cosmique (Cuerpos Dislocados) & David Acosta, Casa de Duende.

Pianisimo: Live piano concerto with Hercules Gomes from São Paulo!

Oi Galera! Hey gang, if you missed it, you can still watch the recording on YouTube at

This talented pianist from Brazil is giving free concerts on YouTube. This one was from his first CD, Pianismo. I first became aware of him in 2018 because of his arrangements of Francisca “Chiquinha” Gonzaga pieces, in his CD No tempo da Chiquinha. Although I was unable to catch Pianismo live today, I did listen to the video recording in its entirety a couple of hours afterwards. My favorite pieces were his rendition of Odeon, because it’s Odeon, (by Ernesto Nazareth) and it’s THAT great, and Elena. Hercules Gomes wrote Elena for his daughter of the same name, 8 years ago when she was only two years old. I thought it was soothing and sweet, and a lovely way to wind down and close the concert. Parabéns e obrigada Hercules!

International Festival Features the Music of Carlos Guastavino

Carlos Guastavino was a composer from Argentina. His songs are well known to many singers, especially Se equivocó la Paloma.

Guastavino.jpg: RicordiRafaelAlberti01.JPG: unknow. uploader Claudio Eliasderivative work: Roblespepe, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Starting on October 22, 2020 and ending on October 28, Sonos International Music Festival and Latin American Music Center (Catholic University of America) sponsor a virtual concert performed by international musicians.


Please check the website for the programs! https://www.sonusinternationalmusicfestival.org/2020-festival-calendar

Dislocada/Dislocated: International Video Exhibition in the Philadelphia Fringe Festival

We’re all in this together… and the arts are struggling during this pandemic. Performing artists of all types have lost most of their contracts since large crowds are prohibited and indoor venues are closed or socially distanced. But artists have not given up. Some are producing concerts and plays online. Many are giving dance classes, music lessons and conducting auditions on line. Visual arts have moved their classes to Zoom from the art studio. Although this doesn’t produce enough revenue needed to feed or house families, it’s something, and artists can still exercise their creativity and skills.

The Philadelphia Fringe Festival is one of the biggest events for theatre in the city and has included music and visual arts in the past. This year the Fringe will be mostly virtual due to the pandemic.

“Dislocada/Dislocated” is an international video showcase, which “responds to isolation and social distancing.” It is coordinated by Dissident Bodies(USA), AVD(Colombia), BDG(USA) & la Sonora Performancera (Mexico). Dissident Bodies, based in Philadelphia is a an artists collective founded by Salomé Cosmique, Veronica Ponce de León and David Acosta. This year’s entry in the Fringe Festival includes 33 artists from 14 countries, many hailing from Latin America and Spain. All viewing is free during the festival from September 10- October 4, 2020. Check out their Fringe Festival link: https://fringearts.com/event/dislocada-dislocated/

“La reina de Indias y el conquistador:” Another Hit Colombian Telenovela

A few days ago I finished watching the last of 60 episodes of La reina de Indias y el conquistador, currently playing on NETFLIX. In the following days I watched a few YouTube videos about India Catalina, and did a Google search on Pedro de Heredia.  Subsequently, I ordered a sample chapter of the most recent biography (and most complete) of India Catalina  from amazon.com for my Kindle.


Statue in Cartagena of India Catalina. Photo by:Joe Ross from Lansing, Michigan / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)


Caracol TV and Netflix have done it again with this series. Many viewers commented on the YouTube videos (most of which were made before the series debuted) that they were “there” (to view the YouTube video) because of La reina de Indias y el conquistador. So what is this show about and why is it so popular?

La reina de Indias y el conquistador, or perhaps India Catalina for short, is a period drama, loosely based on Colombian colonial history. Well, at the time (1500s), there was no “Colombia”. It was all territory being colonized by Spain (or Portugal in the case of Brazil) in the Americas, or what they thought were the “Indias or Indies”. Many of the characters in the story come from Spain and there are some scenes in Andalucía too. India Catalina and Pedro de Heredia, were real historical figures who existed and they did know each other. According to the chronicles, India Catalina was his live in “concubine” for a few years. Bartolomé de las Casas (who we all know from grade school history class) and Enriquillo (a heroic native from Santo Domingo) also are important characters in the series. Less well known is “Diego de Nicuesa” who did exist and was another explorer, or conquerer, if you prefer.

Pedro de Heredia established the settlement, Cartagena de las Indias, for the Spanish crown and was its governor for over 20 years. This city still maintains it’s historical center and is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is also where Gabriel Garcia Márquez’ Amor en los tiempos de cólera (Love in the Time of Cholera–the film stars Javier Bardem) takes place.


By Hdhdhdybooty – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=80330763

With these historical characters, the production takes a romantic leap and lots of artistic license. Pedro and Catalina are soulmates whose dream is to create a city, Cartagena de las Indias, where everyone, indigenous, Spaniards, mixed race and African, would be treated as equals. In history some have considered her as a traitor to indigenous people for helping Heredia by interpreting between him and the natives. She was educated in Spanish and baptized in Santo Domingo after being captured from her home in Colombia when she was only 14 years old.  Heredia was notorious in real life for massacring indigenous people and just as ruthless and greedy for gold as all the rest of that period. But in La reina de Indias y el conquistador, Catalina is a strong heroine who plots revenge for the violence to her people, and Pedro doesn’t murder anybody once he sets sail from Spain. What’s not to love about this noble pairing? How could you not want them to overcome all obstacles to be together?

Essined Aponte, from Puerto Rico, plays Catalina and Emmanuel Esparza from Spain, is Pedro. The talented cast includes many actors from Spain and Colombia as well as other parts of South America. I found the costumes, hair and scenery to be particularly masterful, lending a sense of “reality” to this period piece.  It’s definitely worth watching if you want to practice your Spanish, are interested in Spanish or Colombian history, or just relish a tear-jerking love story!

Café Forte com Minas

O que vamos fazer durante este tempo do coronavirus?…  Quando devemos ficar em casa e apenas sair quando precisar–para comprar comida ou trabalhar num emprego designado imprescindível….

Na sexta não saí e minha tarefa principal foi lavar roupa–não exatamente um programa interessante! Também recebi novidades tristes. Um amigo faleceu. Separei e organizei minhas roupas e baixei para a lavanderia no porão do prédio. Tinha que fazer varias viagens porque não podia carregar tudo de uma vez.

Em um desses pulos para meu apartamento, vi que Minas estava dando um concerto informal desde a mesma cozinha de Orlando e Patricia.  Eles tinham me mandado o anuncio alguns dias atrás, mas esqueci. Decidi parar e escutar somente por uns minutos.


Acabei escutando o resto do concerto! Que encantamento! Com um piano eletrônico e um violão e dois microfones, Minas tocou umas músicas agradáveis e criativas, como se estivessem mesmo num café o boteco no Rio. O som saiu claro e perfeito nas canções que eu ouvi: Dona Flor, Blackbird, Aguas de março, Feira livre, On the Moon and the Stars, e Strong, Black Coffee. Era uma mistura de músicas originais (escritas por Minas) e clássicas de bossa nova, como Aguas de março. 

Antes de terminar, Patricia leu uma receita (que alguém tinha mandado) de um café frio e gostoso, feito com cachaça. A ideia é que nós, o público, deve relaxar com a música viva, com nosso café ou outra bebida, na tarde às 3:00. Eu, sim, deixei de trabalhar por meia hora, e saboreei meu almoço, com café e sobremesa caseira depois. Tudo isso acompanhada, curtindo uma trilha sonora de vozes lindas e improvisação no violão e no piano.

Minas vai tocar no FaceBook Live cada sexta-feira às 3 horas, completo com a leitura de uma receita de café de algum ouvinte ou fã do público.  Não percam!


Para mais informação: Minas

Ephrat Asherie Dance Mixes Choro and Street Dance in Philadelphia

Last night, February 8, 2020, Ephrat Asherie Dance performed “Odeon” at the Zellerbach Theatre at the Annenberg Center in Philadelphia. The production was presented in coordination with Next Move Dance and opened on Friday February 7.

I was interested in attending this performance because of the music. “Odeon” is the title of Ernesto Nazareth’s most famous composition. Ernesto Nazareth is well known in Brazil in the context of 19th and early 20th century composers who were the foundation of Brazil’s samba. Along with Francisca “Chiquinha” Gonzaga, Antonio Callado, Pixinguinha and others, Nazareth improvised in choro ensembles, and composed maxixes (Brazilian tango) and other forms. Nazareth was trained in European music, as were many of his contemporaries in Rio de Janeiro, but combined this with popular and contemporary rhythms (of Afro-Brazilian influence), to create a “Brazilian” national (popular) music.

The performance of “Odeon” by the dance company, was energetic, upbeat and fun. At the very beginning, it was announced that the choreographer, Ms. Ephrat Asherie, herself, wanted the audience to “relax, enjoy and respond.” And that we did! The company of six dancers, (Manon Bal, Teena Marie Custer, Val “Ms. Vee” Ho, Matthew “Megawatt” West, Omari Wiles, and Ephrat Asherie) interpreted a joyful program, full of exhilirating interactions to live music. The instrumental ensemble included Ehud Asherie (music director and pianist, and the choreographer’s brother), Eduardo Belo (bass), and percussionists, Sergio Krakowski, Vitor Gonçalves and Angel Lau.

Ephrat-Asherie-Dance-Odeon (1)

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy

The musical selections included: Brejeiro, Odeon, Fon-fon, Tenebroso, Apanhei-te cavaquinho, Ouro sobre azul, Confidências, Ven cá, Branquinha and Bataque. Some of the musical numbers were with piano and others were percussion only. There were also instances when the dancers themselves created the sound and rhythm, with clapping and stomping, as in the opening. The style of their dances was a mix of street dance, acrobatics, samba no pé, voguing, African dance, to name a few.

Ephrat-Asherie-Dance-Odeon (2)

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy

The dancers were well rehearsed, but at the same time, it all felt spontaneous and fresh. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves onstage and this positive energy was transmitted to the audience. Each dancer cultivated and demonstrated a unique personality and atitude but when they danced in unison they fit together perfectly. There were selections when  the percussionists came into the center of the stage and directly related to the dancers. The pandeiro (Brazilian tambourine) and other percussion instruments were played in a call and response to the dancers’ movements in some selections.  The dancers and musicians were always in synch and this was truly a collaboration on all levels.

At the end of this breathtaking display of fast and fancy footwork, and stunning orchestration, the audience gave them a well-deserved standing ovation.  Ephrat Asherie Dance company transmitted the exhuberance of Nazareth’s pieces through their spirited execution of the imaginative choreography.

To learn more about Ephrat Asherie Dance and their upcoming performances, please visit their website. To see what’s coming up at the Annenberg Center, please visit their website.



Día de los muertos at Fleisher Art Memorial

After processing through the streets of South Philly, following the rhythmic beats on an indigenous drum, we finally arrived at Fleisher. There was a large crowd already mingling on the sidewalk in front of the closed doors. Some were munching on elotes, others stood in line for tacos, and others chatted about the costumed dancers or looked out from painted faces.

The preparation for the Día de los muertos procession and the subsequent celebration inside the building, had begun at least a month before. The previous year I had joined the holiday at the doors of Fleisher, where I waited for the procession and marveled at the life sized skeletal figures that had been created. Seeing the altar inside was the highlight. Here are some photos from this year’s altar:

This year I wanted to be more involved  so I participated in the paper flower making workshop on a weekend early in October. Resident artist, Claudia Peregrina, originally from Mexico, taught and guided us in making the paper flowers from coffee filters. The ages of the participants ranged from four to seventy. Some spoke Spanish, some spoke English. Children especially, were excited to be able to make a mess, so they volunteered to dip the paper flowers in the dye, while most adults cut wires, folded paper and put together the flowers. I don’t know how many I made over 7-8 hours that weekend, but it was a lot. I was dismissed early on the second day to go home and rest.


Since I had spent so much time helping make the flowers that would decorate the altar and the gateway to it, I wanted to do more than just wait at the door. This year I met the procession at its stop at the Italian Market. When I heard the drums and other instruments and saw the group led by a police car escort I got goosebumps and a rush of adrenaline. For quite a while we slowly meandered through the streets of Philly, delighting in the sights and sounds and the overall sensation of joy and gratitude for the chance to remember those who lived before in spirit walked with us.