From the coastal port of Veracruz, Mexico to landlocked Paraguay, the harp in Latin America has accentuated traditional music with its sonorous melodies for centuries. The grown out fingernails of musicians pluck the instrument's numerous nylon strings that vibrate its sophisticated sounds. Four such master harpists from Latin America are lending their superb talents for days of events culminating in a concert performance this weekend in Santa Ana.
The Harp Traditions of Latin America festival is presented by the Orange County Children's Therapeutic Arts Center (OCCTAC) with sponsorships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Mexican Consulate. It brings together acclaimed musicians Alberto de la Rosa, Cesar Daniel Lopez, Alberto Sanabria and Carlos Quintero.
De la Rosa is a master of son jarocho, a musical tradition rooted in Veracruz, Mexico. Most people know the genre by "La Bamba" with the sounds of the harp layered over the rhythmic strumming of jaranas. He's also the musical director of Tlen-Huicani. Lopez started playing the Paraguayan harp of his mother country at the age of 12. Since then, he has embarked on international tours showcasing his abilities.
Like Lopez, Sanabria also calls Paraguay home. He calls his instrument a "passport to the world" as his teaching has taken him across it. Quintero hails from Colombia. The self-taught musician recorded on a number of llanero albums, including the Grammy nominated Sí, soy llanero in 2005.
"OCCTAC is thrilled to bring these amazing artists to Santa Ana," says founder and director Dr. Ana Jimenez-Hami, "and to provide this opportunity for them to share their talents with Southern California through participation in hands-on music instruction and discussions on culture, history, and the role of the Latin American harp."
Proceeds from the festival and concert go to benefit OCCTAC's work in the community. For the past 14 years, the highly regarded center has provided art, eduction and therapeutic programs for thousands of at-risk youth and kids with special needs.
All in the name of a good cause, the events kick off today with invited musicians conducting workshops on how to play the harp from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at OCCTAC through Friday. Each individual day session is available for $20 or sign up for all three at $50. On Thursday night at 7:30, the Mexican Consulate in Santa Ana plays host to a free cultural exchange roundtable with the master harpists that is open to the public.
Everything comes to a close with a concert performance Saturday night at Santa Ana College's Phillips Hall. Each harpist has a set to themselves to display their country's culture. For the grand finale, students from this week's workshops will join the master musicians to close out the show!
OCCTAC's Harp Traditions of Latin America Concert of the Masters takes place at
Phillips Hall, Santa Ana College, 1530 West 17th Street, Santa Ana. Sat., 7 p.m. $25. All ages. For more information, on all the Festival's events, visit www.occtact.org/harpfestival.
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