The concert was on the Perlman Stage in the Hall's big Stern Auditorium. It wasn't sold out; attendence was I'd estimate at 97% of capacity. The Orchestra seats were $150; the least expensive seat was $65.
I wish all those people who can only think of Spanish speaking heritage Americans as undocumented criminals were there. This was a concrete manifestation of latin people in the U.S.: Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Mexico -- and also referenced often was Haiti. Danny mentioned that one of the many things that united us all was language -- we speak Spanish and we speak English. He didn't mention the other thing that they all had in common was that all of them have been exploited, invaded and ruled at different times directly and indirectly by the United States military, by U.S. political policy and U.S. capitalist corporations.
Thus, Haiti, even though Haiti's language is not Spanish but Kreyole and French. (It doesn't escape notice that France's former colonies don't have hordes begging to migrate to the U.S. -- they are French, French citizens, and thus they've been free of the U.S. and live far better than the citizens of those places who have now or in the past experienced living under U.S. hegemony. And the former British New World colonies' people emigrate to Britain, by and large, though we do have Jamaicans here, at least in NYC.)
Maria Inahosa introduced the event. She began, "We are latinos. We live in New York City, where we are seen, where we are heard, where we walk without fear. Unlike our brothers and sisters in Arizona." From a Mexican-American family, Maria is married to an artist from the Dominican Republic, who was in the audience. (He gave V. introductions to DR artists and intellectuals when V. went there often.)
Michel Camilo is from the DR; Muñiz, now 80 years old, is from Mexico, but has lived in PR for many years; Danny Rivera is from PR who spends much time in Cuba and the DR -- and was trying to bring aid to Haiti when stopped by the DR government.
Danny's spent time in an American prison for protesting Vieques. He's politically and charitably active, as well as being a television and music star. It isn't usual for politics to play a role in Latin music events. But Danny's a longtime activist, and what's happened in Arizona, and expected to be copied by several other states has done more to bring to together the varieties of Spanish speaking heritage U.S. citizens than anything else has, as well as to politicize them.
The special guest, the shekere player is Cuban, the father of Yosvani, who recently immigrated; the upright bass player, Charles Flores, is also Cuban. The timbalero, Cliff Almond, is from California, young, white and blonde -- the youngest fellow there.
This was a concert that featured power ballad solo vocalists, though when Danny and the 80-year-old Muñiz did their duet it was spectacular. Via Muñiz in particular we could see the indescribably rich and deep and broad music and theatrical traditions of the Iberian peninsula reaching back and back into history, back even to at least Rome. That gave me shivers. This isn't the anglo-saxon theatrical history of gesture and form, but that of the Mediterranean. Pure gold.
Latin cultural power. It is here. In the U.S. Whether or not Arizona can see it through its blinders of focus on the drug cartels.
I'm not saying that Arizona doesn't have serious troubles here. But neither they nor the rest of the U.S., much less the federal government is facing the causes. You can never successfully treat the symptoms and think the pressure to leave home for a more fertile land will cease. Nor can you ever deal with the pressure to make drug money when the demand is so great.
There was so much to think about while listening to this rich, gorgeous music. What a night of love -- because ballads are all about love -- and friendship. And V. wrote the Playbill text on the artists.
Afterwards V. and I went out together for a late dinner and a little wine, and blithered to each other about how much we enjoyed it, and why we enjoyed it, and how much we enjoyed experiencing it with each other.