Una Gran ¡Fiesta! en Nueva York
Art museum celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month
NEW YORK — The word "fiesta" is Spanish for party. On Saturday, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met) held an all-day fiesta to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Hispanic Heritage Month began on September 15 and ends October 15.
The Met event, called ¡Fiesta!, was a museum-wide celebration of Hispanic and Latin American cultures. It featured activities for the whole family so that everyone from toddlers to grandparents to get involved.
This Kid Reporter began ¡Fiesta! by attending story time in the Arms and Armor galleries. Television news journalist David Novarro read a book called Gracias/Thanks to a group of children and parents. The story by Pat Mora (with illustrations by John Parra) is about a young boy who celebrates friendship, family, and fun by sharing some of the everyday things for which he is thankful.
In the audience was television news anchor David Ushery and his six year old son Austen. Ushery said it is important to "give my son an opportunity to learn the richness of Hispanic culture. My son has been to the Met many times. This is a good to come to here. Every time we come through we find something new to bring family together."
In another part of the museum, mariachi music was performed throughout the day by Mariachi Real de Mexico.
Mariachi Real De Mexico was founded in 1991 in New York City. The mariachi group consists of violins, two trumpets and several guitars. The group also featured Mexican stringed instruments including the vihuela and the guitarrón mexicano, or Mexican large guitar, plus a Mexican folk harp.
While the band played, children from the Mariachi Academy of New York performed. One stand-out performer was Diane, a seven-year-old violin player. "I have practiced every day for over two years," Diane said.
|Kid Reporter Cecilia Gault with seven-year-old mariachi violinist Diane at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's ¡Fiesta! event. (Photo courtesy Cecilia Gault)|
¡Fiesta! culminated in The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium with a fantastic performance by YerbaBuena, a group of New York City–area musicians under the direction of Tato Torres.
YerbaBuena is composed of musicians, singers, and dancers who share an intense passion for the musical traditions of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. The music of YerbaBuena is a unique blend of contemporary and the traditional Puerto Rican musical heritage, Boricuas. YerbaBuena's performance was filled with rhythm and energy.
Mr. Torres' explained that his sound is based on "Bomba," one of the traditional musical styles of Puerto Rico. Bomba is the blend of the three cultures of Puerto Rico, the African, Spanish, and Taino cultures. The base rhythm is played by three drums called "Barriles."
Torres explained that in keeping with the Bomba tradition, the music was interactive. Dance is an important part of the tradition. The drum called "Primo" replicates every single move of the dancer. This is called "Repique."
"It is inevitable, we are rooted in the tradition, but we allow our own personal and collective experience in the music seeps through, that's what culture is all about," Torres said. "If we confined it to any formula or definition of roots or tradition, then it is no longer a living culture."
Eight-year-old Anyssa from the Bronx, loved the Latin music performed at ¡Fiesta! "I liked how they sang in Spanish and English," she said.
When he asked about the joyous and intense audience participation, Torres said that's the point.
"That's what our music is supposed to do, our music is for fiesta, meant to be danced with," Torres said. "If it doesn't happen, we get worried, we are not playing right."
(Here's a translation of the headline of this story: A Grand Party in New York)
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