2007, Fri, Aug 31

Los Pleneros de la 21

El Barrio - Berlin Moves to NuYorica: Multistyled Latin Beats

Los Pleneros de la 21 | (c) Erika Rojas

Los Pleneros de la 21 | (c) Erika Rojas

Since at least the 1950s, New York has been the centre of Spanish-language popular music. The musical styles imported from the Caribbean and Central and South America were transformed, with the addition of Afro-American, Italian and Jewish elements, into characteristic "Nuyorquina" genres, while the term "Nuyoricans" was coined in reference to the city's Puerto Ricans themselves. Out of the term "Latino", previously a stereotype applied by the dominant white culture, a cultural and, above all, musical identity soon emerged.


Ritual with Music

The Pleneros are the first musical ensemble to take bomba and plena to Carnegie Hall. More than just musical styles, bomba and plena include qualities of ritual. They were born on the sugar cane plantations of Puerto Rico at the beginning of the 20th century, but have roots going back to Africa. The plena form, a sort of daily newspaper in song, comments on the sufferings and passions of the common man, while bomba is a community happening encompassing song, music and dance. Founded in 1983, the eleven-member Los Pleneros de la 21 bring together three generations of musicians, dancers and artisans from the South Bronx who have dedicated their lives to these musical traditions from Puerto Rico. At the House they will perform their unique mix of tradition and improvisation.

Website Los Pleneros de la 21


Curator of the El Barrio programme: Christoph Twickel, journalist, author, Latin music expert and DJ (aka Basso Profundo)