Colombian Community Cultural Initiative
FolkColombia Música y Danza
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In 2008, the Center for Traditional Music and Dance began field research in the rich traditions of New York’s vibrant Colombian community. CTMD had presented the NY-based groups Los Macondos (vallenato) and La Cumbiamba eNeYé (Afro-Colombian) over the years, but explosion of new music coming from other young traditional artists also commanded our attention.
New York has been home to thousands of Colombians for over sixty years. Many Colombians fled their country during the civil war of late the 1940s through the 1950s, and the recession of the 1960s forced many more to look for work abroad. New York became the most popular relocation site for emigrating Colombians and by the 1970s Colombians had settled into the Queens neighborhoods of Jackson Heights, Corona, Elmhurst, Woodside, Rego Park and Flushing. Since that time immigration from Colombia has not abetted as the country has been plagued with economic and social turmoil. One in nine Colombians now lives abroad, often first relocating to Queens and then on to suburbs such as Westchester, Stamford, Elizabeth, Bergenline and Englewood.
Whereas much of the music heard in New York’s Colombian communities in the 1970s was vallenato and cumbia, by the 2000s young NY Colombians began making new music based on the traditions they heard growing-up and other lesser known traditions they were interesting in exploring.
In the Spring of 2010 we were thrilled to offer a nine-part workshop series designed to engage audiences in the range of traditional music and dance forms from Colombia’s coast to the plains. Produced in collaboration with the Queens Museum of Art and El Taller Latino Americano, these workshops not only demonstrated the richness of Colombian traditions but also indicated to us that the community was eager to learn more about the beauty and diversity of traditional Colombian music and dance. This was followed in Spring/Fall 2011 with a series of programs at Flushing Town Hall, Queens Museum of Art and El Taller, as well as a major showcase of Colombian music and dance at CTMD's Heritage Sunday program at Lincoln Center Out of Doors on August 7, 2011, an event which drew thousands.
Our committee of master artists and cultural activists formed FolkColombia Música y Danza which is dedicated to introducing the rich variety of traditional Colombian music and dance forms to Colombians, Colombian-Americans and the wider general public; and to exposing and educating all New Yorkers on the diversity, value and beauty of Colombian traditional arts while supporting creativity in the development of these artistic forms.
For more information about this program or for volunteer opportunities, contact Project Director Jorge Arévalo Mateus, Ph.D. by emailing here.
Key Artists and Individuals:
• Moris Cañate - percussionist and co-founder of Grupo Rebolu
• Johanna Castañeda - four-stringed cuatro and singer
• Sebastian Cruz - guitarist, composer, director of Coba
• Daniel & Ana Fetecua-Soto - dancers and founders of the folk dance ensemble Pajarillo Pintao
• Alejandro Florez - guitarist, composer and director of Tibaguí Trio
• Rafael Gomez - guitarist and director of Grupo Latino Son
• Gabrielle Hamilton - folklorist, CTMD Project Director
• Andres Garcia - Andean music guitarist
• Rafael Leal Ramirez - percussionist and author
• Anna Mayor - flutist and co-founder of Encuentro de Músicos Colombianos en Nueva York
• Pablo Mayor - pianist, composer, director of Folklore Urbano and co-founder of Encuentro de Músicos Colombianos en Nueva York
• Diego Obregon - marimba maker and director of Grupo Chonta
• Guillermo “Willie” Peñate - percussionist with Los Macondos and Insignia Vallenata
• Ronald Polo - vocalist, gaita player, and co-founder of Grupo Rebolu
• Camilo Rodriguez - gaita player and member of Maku
• Albor Ruiz - leader of the Ruiz family group, Los Bambuquitos
• Martin Vejarano - gaita player and founding director of La Cumbiamba eNeYé
Read On-line Profiles of Master Colombian Artists:
Check out our artists:
On air at WFMU
We are grateful for support received from New York City Council Member Julissa Ferreras.