Orquesta Aragon

Saturday, April 19, 2014, 5:00 pm
The San Francisco International Arts Festival joins with SF State to present an exclusive Bay Area engagement with the legendary Cuban music ensemble Orquesta Aragon from Havana. Aragon brings the musical genius of generations of musicians dedicated to sharing their rich musical heritage with music fans of all ages worldwide. Also featuring the Afro-Cuban Jazz Ensemble of SF State and City College of San Francisco Charanga Orquesta. Presented by the San Francisco International Arts Festival, School of Music and Dance and Latina/Latino Studies Department. $35-$70. Add a one-cent donation to your ticket order and support a community organization. The San Francisco International Arts Festival will then contribute $5 from each ticket to the organization of your choice. Please note: post-concert reception canceled. Patrons who purchased the combined concert/reception ticket should come to the box office the day of the performance to receive a refund.
Creative Arts Building, McKenna Theatre
San Francisco International Arts Festival, School of Music and Dance, Latina/o Studies Department
SF State Box Office
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Orquesta Aragón has been a cornerstone of Cuban culture for seven decades, prospering in the heady, profligate days before Fidel Castro came to power and then thriving after the revolution transformed the country’s music industry. Through all the personnel, stylistic and political changes, Aragón has kept its focus, spreading irresistible Cuban rhythms around the world. Always looking to make dancers happy, the band has cultivated a highly flexible approach that allows it to keep up with changing fashions while staying true to its basic sound.

Led by accomplished violinist and musical director Rafael Lay Jr. and with a creative range from danzon, son, cha-cha-chá and more, Orquesta Aragón’s classic charanga forms its distinctive sound based on traditional son with its African rhythm section and Spanish melodies, with flutes and violins added.

The importance of Orquesta Aragón to Cuban music is similar to that of Duke Ellington or Count Basie to American jazz. Orquesta Aragón's extraordinary adventure began in September 1939 when bass player Orestes Aragón Cantero brought his small charanga to Cienfuegos for their debut. This Charanga group has gone on to become one of Cuba’s most treasured cultural entities with a reputation as one of the foremost interpreters of classic Cuban popular songs.

Known for such hits as El Bodeguero, La Gloria Eres Tu and Calculadora, the group has performed in prestigious venues all around the world, including Carnegie Hall in New York, Olympia Theatre in Paris, and Tchaikovsky’s Theatre of Russia. The Orquesta can be heard live regularly on Radio Progreso in Havana (debuting on the station in 1955) and has recorded more than 100 albums.

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Related event

Orquesta Aragón lecture and demonstration, April 21, 1:10–2pm