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The arrival of cinema in Cienfuegos

The arrival of cinema in Cienfuegos

In some notes published on the Internet, it is taken...

Consumption and dissemination of traditional popular music in Cienfuegos

Consumption and dissemination of traditional popular music in Cienfuegos

Cienfuegos, as a historical-cultural context,...

Lázaro García: Weaving a face in song

Lázaro García: Weaving a face in song

A song is one of the simplest musical forms that...

  • The arrival of cinema in Cienfuegos

    The arrival of cinema in Cienfuegos

  • Consumption and dissemination of traditional popular music in Cienfuegos

    Consumption and dissemination of traditional...

  • Lázaro García: Weaving a face in song

    Lázaro García: Weaving a face in song

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The arrival of cinema in Cienfuegos

The arrival of cinema in Cienfuegos



In some notes published on the Internet, it is taken for granted that the "first cinematographic exhibitions took place in Cienfuegos at the Tomás Terry Theater in 1901". Apart from the grammatical and stylistic inaccuracies, the text (which cites a research carried out by four specialists of the Provincial Film Center, now retired from the institution) makes several mistakes that do not do justice to the city and the place where the arrival of the seventh art took place. When did cinema arrive in the Pearl of the South? Who is the giver of this novelty?

Since the end of the 19th century, Telesforo Alfonso de Armas has taken advantage of the facades of buildings to advertise current products, a purpose that brings him close to the work performed by José G. González and his commercial announcer in the capital, so we could consider him as an antecedent in these areas. Between 8:30 and 10:00 p.m. it offers to exhibit all the modalities to the use: announcements by the procedure of portraits, colored bottoms, views of establishments and others requested by the users; in the same way, it assures its projection in stays of societies, roofs, schools, meetings and theaters.

                                                                                                                     Newspaper clip about Edison´s vitascope

Faced with the push of the Lumiére cinema in the capital, the representatives of Thomas Alva Edison hastened their tour of the island. On the night of Saturday, March 20, 1897, one of the emissaries settles in Cienfuegos and premieres the vitascope, before the surprised group that attends the premises located on San Fernando Street, on the corner of Bouyón, where the Ferrer Palace is erected. "An infinity of people flocked there to admire the remarkable invention of the famous electrician Edison", states the chronicler F. Díaz del Vallín in his section La Semana, of the newspaper El Nacional (Cienfuegos, Sunday, March 21, 1897, p. 2).

This new invention of recreational physics had been promoted since February 13 in the Cuban capital, where it was inaugurated at the Salón de Variedades o Ilusiones Ópticas, located at 118 Prado Street. It was then shown as a strong competitor of the Lumiére cinema, projecting "vivid pictures and current scenes" on a canvas picture and advertising itself as a superior artifact to the French one. The vitascope, the creation of Thomas Armat, cynically improved by Edison himself, allowed simultaneous perception and relied on a form of film sliding, in which a period of illumination is followed by a period of darkness.

For 30 cents for adults and 30 cents for children, from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., the public could enjoy an entertaining program of views, in the style of Niagara Falls, Scenes from a Bath, The Black Diamond Express, The Cervantes Trade Pump, The Great Steamship St. Louis, The Buffalo Express and Chicago, The Spanish Marines, among others. These are the same short films exhibited in Havana a month earlier and which earned the criticism of the chronicler Jacobo Domínguez Santí: "The views are beautiful in their totality, but when projected on the canvas frame they "flicker" too much or appear blurred, dark, lacking in expression. In addition, the interludes from one view to the other are too long.

Immediately, the people of Cienfuegos did not have the opportunity to compare the quality of the images of the vitascope with that of its competitor Lumiére cinema; although they were dissatisfied with the small premises adapted due to the lack of ventilation. Seven days later, the arrival of a theater company, whose competition "forces" the American businessmen to leave the city, thus beginning the nomadic stage of cinema in Cienfuegos. It is true that on the night of Saturday, March 27, the locals barely attended the performance of the comedies Bruno the Weaver and Dorotea, both starring Ramiro la Presa, at the Tomás Terry Theater; however, they were enthusiastic about the artifact created by the  Auguste and Louis Lumiére brothers. The following day, word spread of another "lantern" capable of displaying moving photographs.

The spectators who attended the Coliseo Mayor on the night of March 29, 1897, to see the premiere of the play En la cara está la verdad and the rest of the program announced by Ramiro la Presa's company, still ended up angry with the dullness of the performances. A chronicler of the newspaper El Comercial confessed to the readers: "Yesterday the drama Juan José was staged at Terry's theater. The play was, it seems, badly rehearsed. As they say in theater parlance, the artists were doing the play al toro, that is to say: trusting the prompter. That's how it went! Mr. Presa, once again performed Dorotea. For today announces the company In the face is the age and the exhibition of the wonderful invention the Lumiére cinematograph, which will present 15 precious views ending the function with Dorotea that will play Mr. La Presa, Frégoli ten different roles". It was Frégoli, the famous transformer, who introduced the cinematograph in the city, placing the exhibitions in the middle of the scenes. The actor owned an apparatus of his own and used to use it in his shows to facilitate costume and make-up changes.

Clearly, Cienfuegos became the seventh Latin American city to enjoy one of the greatest amusements created by man.

(Taken from 5 de Septiembre)


Consumption and dissemination of traditional popular music in Cienfuegos

Consumption and dissemination of traditional popular music in Cienfuegos



Cienfuegos, as a historical-cultural context, treasures an invaluable arsenal that thickens the list of heritage, if we are talking about popular music. Like other regions of Cuba, this central part of the country has developed its own way of making and performing music.

Undoubtedly, at present it is worrying the existence of scarce spaces that contribute to the diffusion of traditional popular music, without taking into account the levels of preference that this type of music has among the new generations, continuers of the legacy of men and women during all the stages of musical history. Traditions so deeply rooted in the territory of Cienfuegos as dancing or simply listening to a "good son", no longer find a place in the hectic life of the 21st century man, being relegated to the taste of those who are already combing some gray hair.

The province has traditionally possessed a quality artistic talent. At present -prior to the appearance of Covid-19-, the musicians were already considering that the spaces were reduced for the interpretation of our endogenous music, taking into consideration the actions of the province and the desires of all the artistic personnel. However, there are several factors that in one way or another intervene in the correct management of the promotion of Cuban popular music in the territory, whether they are of an economic, legislative or social nature.

Cuban cultural policy decisively supports creation, but this support should not be seen only as the specific economic retribution that authorial legislations can provide. It goes much further, as evidenced by the subsidy to many valuable cultural projects that cannot survive on their own. In addition, this subsidy helps to protect native genres of Cuban culture that make up a distinctive musical tradition. Such is the case of danzón and its derivative genres: son, rumba and peasant music; in groups such as the Conjunto Tradicional de Sones Los Naranjos, the ObbaIlú rumba group and the peasant music groups, among others.

In addition to these, there is the development of concert music, especially the municipal bands (Cienfuegos, Cruces, Lajas, Cumanayagua and Palmira), the Cantores de Cienfuegos and Canticus Novus choirs, as well as chamber music projects such as the Orquesta Concierto Sur, Avanti, Concertante and the Orquesta de Flautas, through which, in some way, our communities appreciate musical works of high technical level. Events of social impact are developed, such as the Benny Moré Festival, the Boleros de Oro International Festival and Cubadisco.

The city of Cienfuegos, in line with Cuban cultural policy, has cultural institutions such as the Café Theater, El Cubanísimo de Artex, Minerva Hall, the Houses of Culture, the Sainz Brothers Association (AHS) and the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (Uneac), newly created open spaces, which also serve as stages for alternative music festivals that provide a cultural program for the enjoyment and enjoyment of our music identity.

The academic formation in this territory is an indispensable part for the conservation of the patrimony in the hands of the new generations; therefore, the Benny Moré School of Art, whose role is indispensable.

The Empresa Provincial Comercializadora de la Música y los Espectáculos (EPCME) Rafael Lay, should be governed by the cultural policy of our country in its highest aspiration, which has been committed to promote a cultural action from the roots, base of our society, and linked to the creative effort of the best of the Cuban intellectuality. To it is attributed the promotion, diffusion and protection of the artistic talent of the province and it is the one that must comply with the postulates that protect the cultural rights as far as music is concerned. However, there is still a lot of work to be done for these objectives to be fully met.

The scarce diffusion of Cuban popular music, specifically that of Cienfuegos, and therefore the existing limitation in the levels of promotion in charge of the different mass media, as well as institutional, is influenced by elements that condition and rule the tastes and preferences, which go hand in hand with the consumption and the musical diffusion. In the midst of an aestheticized consumer society where the media act as interlocutors and builders of scenes according to their interests, and where there is a whole intention of deforming sensitivity, we have to rethink and contextualize our traditions so that popular music is protected and does not die.
(Taken from 5 de Septiembre)

English version Hector Hdez.

Lázaro García: Weaving a face in song

Lázaro García: Weaving a face in song



A song is one of the simplest musical forms that throughout its development, has been in the investigative spotlight and dichotomous classifications between the cultured and the popular. At the same time, it has shown that it presents a clear tendency towards the assimilation of diverse typologies of cultural practices, constituting universal heritage within human expressions. In this sense, the troubadour style has become the genesis of a form of expression.

When we speak of the New Trova Movement (MNT) and its sociocultural repercussion in Cuba, the name of Lázaro García Gil is recurrent. Together with figures such as Silvio Rodríguez, Pablo Milanés, Vicente Feliú and Noel Nicola, among others, he founded this movement and sedimented a typology of Cuban song that, from a musicological point of view, is imbricated with the most general problems of current theoretical thought.

Lázaro's artistic trajectory has been approached in different sources and numerous journalistic and audiovisual works -more of a descriptive nature-, however, his compositional style is susceptible and deserving of a specialized analysis. Although his work initially had common ideo-aesthetic positions and evident convergences with other composers of this movement, his music shows a very personal aesthetic.

He is a composer who has obtained dissimilar recognitions and has known how to unfold and fulfill directive tasks, where he was national vice-president of the Movimiento de la Nueva Trova and was musical advisor of the Egrem. He also founded and directed the Cienfuegos recording studio Eusebio Delfín, and between 2004 and 2008 he directed the Abdala studios. His work also includes incidental music for theater (Teatro Guiñol Nacional) and cinema (Ecifar). He has several recordings, among which, just to mention a few, are Al Sur de mi mochila (Egrem, 1986); Si de tanto soñarte (Producciones Abdala, 2002); En pos del mar (Bis Music, 2004); Pescando una canción (Producciones Colibrí, 2006), Como si fuese ayer (2019), accompanied by guitarist Jesús "Chuchi" Saura, as well as countless tributes through recordings of albums with songs by the author from the voices and styles of artists such as Ingrid Rodríguez Díaz de Villegas with the album Tejiendo un rostro en la canción, produced by Eduardo Rodríguez Saura, in 2019.

Songs such as Carretón, Al Sur de mi Mochila, Dardos de Miel and Pequeñín, are some of the titles that occupy a relevant place for the author himself. They have been taken up again in later recording projects, as is the case of Carta de amor, with an evident social impact, and interpreted by artists such as Liuba María Hevia, Amaury Pérez, Silvio Rodríguez, Nelson Valdés, among others.

In order to analyze Lázaro García's musical work from a musicological point of view, it is necessary to understand the creative framework from two fundamental planes: the Thematic Plane (referring to the argument), with the objective of seeing the function of the text; the different points of view in which the author approaches the themes; and the poetic characteristics in the use of the word as a means of communication of ideas, and the Compositional Plane (where the process of creation is coordinated) from the structural relationship of all these elements, and the determination of typifying factors of the composer's process of musical creation.

From a thematic point of view, most of Lázaro's songs are grouped along the lines of love and philosophy. Works such as El Mundo de tu mano and Siempre será el amor, show us a treatment by the author of serious, reflective and intimate tones. He has a preference for classical textual structures, as well as a poetic language with the use of rhetorical figures (metaphors, simile and synesthesia) and poetic images in songs such as Asonancia del tiempo and Inclina el cetro a la flor. In addition, he has dedicated songs to Cienfuegos enhancing its qualities in works such as Trovada a la Perla and Hotel Jagua. The general tones of his lyrics are marked by the use of the first person, and he embodies the timeless troubadour who sings to the beloved person or memory, with a lyricism in the language that denotes the closeness of the argument to the author's subjectivity.

When we analyze the common features in the creation of Lázaro García from the compositional point of view, it becomes necessary to study the morphological aspects of his work and the aspects of the dramaturgy with respect to the functions of the parts in the structures. There is a preference for simple binary musical forms (with a higher degree of complexity given by combinations of textual forms and processes of thematic and musical synthesis in sections with development function) and ternary (with ABC tripartite schemes with use of the continuous form without refrain).

The predominant functions are expository and developmental. He has a preference for chromatic melodic patterns, as well as fragments with circular and descending designs. The singer-songwriter glimpses a preference for minor tonalities with presence of harmonic instability from the use of frequent contacts and modulations from the use of altered chords (augmented chords of double dominant and diminished, 7th, 9th, 13th, etc...). The dynamics are maintained on mezzo sonorities, and the metrhythmic impulses have a tendency to deceleration.

The figure of Lázaro has become a paradigm for Cienfuegos culture. His songs show us contextual aspects as a result of his belonging to the Nueva Trova Movement (which he defends and keeps in force) and others that distinguish him by his own creative style. The relationships between the thematic and compositional spheres make it possible to consider our beloved and charismatic Lázaro García Gil as one of the Cuban artists with the highest level of elaboration in his work and indisputable artistic values that embellish the musical catalog of Cienfuegos, and with the certainty that his songs will be eternal while he weaves a face in the song.

(Taken from 5 de Septiembre)
English versin Hector Hdez.

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