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Kentucky Center kicks off first-ever Festival of Latin American Music

WLKY Louisville logo WLKY Louisville 3/5/2022
louisville latin american music festival © Provided by WLKY Louisville louisville latin american music festival

The richness and diversity of music throughout Latin America will be on display for all in the Derby City to see as Louisville's first-ever Festival of Latin American music kicked off at the Kentucky Center Friday.

The electrifying sound of percussion and trumpets filled the auditorium at the center for the inaugural coffee concert that began the three-part festival.

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"They've seen it all at this point but not a dance party," Louisville Orchestra musical director Teddy Abrams said. "This is the first time where they've had permission to stand up and dance in the middle of the show."

Abrams birthed the idea for the festival which makes nods to Afro-Cuban music and classics like West Side Story.

"The great thing about music is that if you like the music, it becomes a part of you and everyone loves Cuban music, Latin American music and the dance that it inspires," Abrams said.

The first concert of the three-part series included world premieres of two works.

Cuban-American composer and performer Dafnis Prieto's work titled "Tentación: A Concerto for People of Earth and Orchestra," which was commissioned by the Louisville Orchestra and a piece by Puerto Rican composer Angélica Negrón titled "Fractal Isles."

Video: Kentucky Center kicks off the first Festival of Latin American Music (WLKY Louisville)

Kentucky Center kicks off the first Festival of Latin American Music

The Louisville Orchestra also played a commission from almost 70 years ago: Heitor Villa-Lobos's evocative overture "Alvorada na floresta tropical."

"To share all the strategies, the joy and the journey that you have planned and to see and hear the reaction from it is a great experience," Dafnis Prieto said.

The reaction is made even sweeter when it comes from those within Louisville's Latinx community as well. Kentucky is home to the second-largest population of Cubans per capita in the United States outside of Florida.

Luis David-Fuentes is from Cuba but now calls the Derby City home and said the festival makes him even more proud to call Kentucky home.

David-Fuentes said in Spanish: "I am very appreciative of this city to have received us, given us space and accepted our culture that for them is different. This is an example of the impact we're having here as Hispanics and how inclusive the city is."

For those who are regulars at the Kentucky Center, it offered an opportunity to learn about the richness of another culture that is a big part of Louisville.

"I learned a little more about the dancing and about the different musics that they play," Deloris White said.

The Festival of Latin American Music runs March 4-5, 11-12, and 24-26.

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