Cuban group sharing spirit of music with local youth choirs

Diane
Diane Crocker
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CORNER BROOK  When Novel Voz takes to the stage the seven members truly bring the music to life.

Novel Voz are, from left, (back) Rogelio Montenegro, Eduardo Bravo, Fernando Ramos and Roberto Rodriguez, and (front) Maribel Valdes, Analee Carrete and Isabel Alfonso.

That’s because the seven-person Cuban a cappella vocal group doesn’t just sing the words to the songs, they become the instruments.

“We sing most Cuban music, trying to imitate the Cuban orchestras of popular music,” said Rogelio Montenegro. “Everything a cappella without instruments.”

That means when a song calls for a trumpet, trombone, percussion or congas the members will use their voices to bring the sound to life, said Montenegro, who sings the bass.

Novel Voz is in the city this week as part of Festival 500 Sharing the Voices Western Regional Festival.

On Friday night the group performed at the William Herdman Hall at Corner Brook Regional High. The concert also featured school choirs from Humber Elementary, Pasadena Elementary, C.C. Loughlin, J.J. Curling and Corner Brook Regional High and the Bay of Islands Musical Arts Children’s Chorus.

At one point in the show all the youth choirs joined together and the 250 students delighted the packed auditorium with a rousing rendition of “Jack Was Every Inch a Sailor.” A few moments later they were joined by intermediate choir members to bring the number to about 300.

Montenegro said this is Novel Voz’s third time in Canada and first in Newfoundland. The group works with the Cuba Canada Express and through that was invited to Festival 500.

“We do a lot of workshops and performances for students,” said Montenegro.

And they spent much of their time here doing just that with the youth choirs participating in the festival.

On Friday morning Montenegro said they performed for 250 students at a local school.

“It was an amazing experience for all of us.”

In working with the students, Montenegro said the group tries to share the spirit of popular Cuban music.

“The workshops that we do, we try to teach them the Cuban clave, is the pattern of Cuban music,” said Montenegro.

They also teach them to dance the Son cubano, the Cuban rhythms.

“If you follow the bass with your feet you’re dancing the Son. But it’s not easy,” said Montenegro.

Montenegro said participating in events like Festival 500 is an important experience for the group.

“I think that real artists should know all cultures for to know all sensibilities.”

And he said the experience here has been “awesome.”

Novel Voz will also perform Sunday night at the high school along with the Bay of Islands Musical Arts Chorus, Holy Heart of Mary Alumnae Choir and the Adult Massed Choir. That concert starts at 7 p.m.

dcrocker@thewesternstar.com

Twitter: WS_CornerBrook

Organizations: Cuba Canada Express, Islands Musical Arts Chorus

Geographic location: Montenegro, Bay of Islands Musical Arts Children, Canada Newfoundland

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  • Kerry Miller
    May 08, 2013 - 02:10

    So glad we had the chance to meet the members of Novel Voz, on our Ladysmith secondary school band trip to Cuba, we had a chance to go to the Jazz Cafe in Havanah & attend a percussion workshop put on by this group and hear them perfom live!, was a wonderful time! Kerry Miller