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Letters 09-01-2014

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Home · Articles · News · Music · Tiempo Libre
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Tiempo Libre

Ross Boissoneau - January 19th, 2009
People think there are certain things that just don’t go together. Plaids and stripes, for instance. Or maybe chocolate and lemonade. How about Latin music and orchestral music?
Two out of three maybe. Tiempo Libre intends to prove to the audience at Corson Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 24 that the group’s fiery Latin music can indeed coexist with symphonic stylings. One of the hottest Latin groups today, Tiempo Libre will be teaming up with the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra to perform Venezuelan composer Ricardo Lorenz’s “Rumba Sinfnica.” And if that’s not enough, the Grammy-nominated group will also play a set of their signature brand of salsa known as timba.
“We were classical music students, but it’s different playing timba than classical,” said Jorge Gomez, the group’s pianist, just before Tiempo Libre began its tour.
But whatever the form, Gomez says the crowd at Interlochen had better be ready for a good time. “I’m looking forward to seeing the crowd dancing,” he said. “They’re going to sing with us and dance with us. It’s like a Cuban party.
“They’d better be prepared.”

BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
For his part, Lorenz says the piece he composed in collaboration with Gomez will bring out the best in both the orchestra and in Tiempo Libre. “They are disparate musics,” he said from his office at Michigan State University, where he is a professor of music composition. “That’s the point – to have two different genres that don’t connect (come together).”
The inspiration for “Rumba Sinfnica” came when Lorenz saw a performance by the band. He suggested they collaborate on a piece, and Tiempo Libre agreed. While he had previously composed pieces that mixed genres in a similar fashion, such as his “Pataruco: Concerto for Venezuelan Maracas and Orchestra” or “Puente Trans-Arábico for Middle Eastern percussion and String Quartet,” this was the first time he composed a piece specifically for a working band.
“This is unique because of the people involved,” Lorenz said. “From the onset I collaborated with Jorge. If it was going to work, I knew Tiempo Libre had to think of it as their own.
“Another group could perform it, but it needs a group that comes in (together) to be so tight. If they needed to rehearse to play together, it would be a disaster.”
No such worries with this group. The seven members of Tiempo Libre learned the ropes by studying classical music by day in Cuba, then, despite orders to the contrary, picking up the nuances of their homeland’s rhythms outside the classroom. Upon immigrating to Florida, the members came back together as Tiempo Libre to celebrate their heritage while taking advantage of the skills they’d learned in the conservatories.

UPLIFTING RESULTS
Those classical lessons come in handy on the group’s latest recording as well, O’Reilly Street, with famed classical flutist Sir James Galway. Galway and four members of Tiempo Libre – Gomez, bassist Tebelio Fonte, drummer Hilario Bell, and percussionist Leandro González – collaborated on selections from Claude Bolling’s “Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano” and traditional pieces, along with a Gomez original and Bach’s “Contradanza.”
The results are engaging and uplifting, with the Cuban musicians bringing new life to Bolling’s music and bringing out the best in Galway. Or maybe it’s the other way around. No matter, the end result is a delight.
Gomez promises the same for the show at Interlochen.
“Music is energy. It’s everything about Cuban culture,” he said.

Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show are $21 for adults, $18 for seniors and $9 for students. Call the box office at 276-7800 or go online to tickets.interlochen.org.

 
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