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Posted July 06, 2007 by Arte de Cuba in Cuban Movies

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The documentary “Luminous Shadows, The Artists of Eastern Cuba” airs on KTWU channel 11 in Eastern Kansas. This PBS affiliate airs the film August 8th at 8:00 PM (9:00 EST)The documentary has been acclaimed as a “A journey into the heart and soul of the artists from Oriente,Cuba” The 43 minute film is in Spanish with subtitles and the sound track is by La Familia Valera Miranda courtesy of DISCMEDI of Barcelona.Here is a description of the sound track.You can find out more by going to http://www.cubanart.org

Son así


When you listen carefully to this album I’m sure you’ll be able to do a valuation about what’s real traditional Cuban music and to appreciate the good taste of the musicians involved in the project. It’s not difficult for me to talk about them because in spite there’s a long history behind them they are extremely unaffected and hospitable people. When you have dealings with Félix Varela Miranda, a huge connoisseur of the secrets of life, a standing figure of a centennial family dedicated to cultivate genuine music tradition, you can see on his eyes the love and devotion he feels about his art, the deep respect to his work and his tenacity in front the facts of life. He’s been through the years a master for new generations that feel grateful for his perseverance in spite there’s no need of that because there’s nothing he enjoys more than to teach. Félix comes from a modest and profoundly patriotic family, and so he’s proud of telling his own story and says he’s from ‘a place in Oriente, in the Cauto river basin, near Tunas, Bayamo and Manzanillo’ and his lineage is a blend of races and families and a melting-pot where the Hispanic and African culture meet. From his grandmother Julia and great-uncles he learnt the syncretism chants, to sing the Son and how to play tres; he also was introduced to the art of the tumbadera and the secrets of music composition. His mother Emilia, or Milla as he call her with love, disclosed to him all the traditions of his legendary family bequeathed by the most aged member of the family like Cutiño, the mambí great-grandfather which was a talented singer and poet, and the great-grandmother Catalina Basulto who ‘sang like a mockingbird’. They, together with many others from both the Valera and the Miranda, are part of a cultural wealth which rests on solid conceptions and precepts that have made possible that nowadays his own children have inherited this popular wisdom and all the secrets of this particular way of singing and play..

Felix Varela Miranda officially founded La Familia Valera Miranda sextet in 1985 with his wife Carmen, his three sons (Enrique, Raúl and Ernesto) and Radamés, responsible of second voices, claves and occasionally the cuatro. Radamés was Felix’s schoolmate and he has always been very close to the family, its story and particular way of understanding music. With the course of years, logically enough, the ensemble has evolved and improved until they needed to include a new member, Wilfredo (tumbadoras), a former schoolmate of the two elder sons (Enrique and Raúl) that Felix still consider as a beloved pupil. Now ‘La Familia’ is a Typical Traditional Septet that, in spite of their virtuosity, its aim is to preserve and get as close as possible to the archetypical sound of the bands and ensembles that played on the decade of the twenties of the past century; this particularity has increased the interest for their music among a diverse audience and several institutions devoted to the study and understanding of traditional music.

As you can see with this album, they have selected an unusual repertoire including numbers by some of the most internationally acclaimed Cuban composers: Lorenzo Hierrezuelo, Eduardo Saborit, Simón Díaz, Mercedes Pedroso, among others, they perform on their very own way to pay homage to the music of such outstanding masters. The texts has been carefully choose for its suggestive meanings and lack of sophistication, in both cases two of the main characteristics of the way Cuban people talk, so you will be able to understand why some people say ‘Así Son’ (a language trick with ‘they sound like this’ and ‘they are like this’)

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