Explore Music! PUERTO RICO Wrap Up | Webster University

Explore Music! Puerto Rico Touches Hearts of the Community

explore music puerto rico dancers

It may have been cool and rainy outside on October 14th, but INSIDE at the CMS, the spicy, rich scent of Puerto Rican Cuisine filled the air and the sound of drums, the cuatro and the guiro filled the Concert Hall.  More than 200 people of all ages and backgrounds enjoyed learning about the history and culture of our island neighbors and experienced the vibrant and passionate nature of their music and hospitality. 

We tasted authentic Puerto Rican cuisine prepared by Leslie Hernandez including trifongo (fried plantains mashed with olive oil & garlic), arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas), pernil (oven-roasted pork), flan (custard with caramel sauce), and non-alcoholic piña coladas.  Adults and kids enjoyed making shakers to keep the beat and kites made from found materials – both popular past time for kids in Puerto Rico.  In the lobby were extensive displays of poster-art, Taino masks, and an in-depth historical timeline. 

In the Concert Hall Rafael Hernandez gave us context and background about many of the musical traditions in Puerto Rico.  A string trio played traditional music in the European Classical style.  Then, the beat picked up and we learned about bomba – a musical relationship between dancer, singer and drums that is a mixture of three cultural influences on the island, the African, Spanish and Taino cultures.  In bomba, the dancer takes the lead with a series of gestures and the drummers try to follow.

The afternoon finished with a flourish as the band Son Montuno played modern/popular Latin and salsa rhythms loved around the world today.  Audience members couldn’t stay in their seats so we were treated to spontaneous salsa dancing too!

According to Rafael Hernandez, Explore Music! PUERTO RICO was “the greatest tribute in St. Louis, MO to the music and culture of my homeland Puerto Rico.”