|Merengue Gains International Attention with Simulcast in DR and Puerto Rico |
The simulcast show of the closing of the 41st Merengue Festival in Santo Domingo and Puerto Rico will undoubtedly result in a huge boost in international interest in this musical style as well as in Dominican tourism.
“I think it is a good idea and very important to try to stimulate not just Puerto Ricans to come to the festival…”
This analysis was agreed upon by experts Rafael Solano and Freddy Ginebra, honorary president of the Tourism Cluster of Santo Domingo who shared their views on an academic panel. “The Merengue is the most genuine expression of being Dominican.” The panel was held on Thursday at the Apec University (UNAPEC) as part of the 41st Merengue Festival.
The event, organized by the UNAPEC Tourism School under the leadership of Luis Felipe Aquino, included Rafael Solano, historian Catana Pérez de Cuello, Executive Director or the Museum of Dominican Music and the well-known composer/communicator and researcher Huchi Lora.
“I think it is a good idea and very important to try to stimulate not just Puerto Ricans to come to the festival but also to actually hold the festival in Puerto Rico so that the music can become more international,” said Solano.
He added that the festival is a tradition that “should be maintained because it supports the music which is an expression of nationality and the very projection of Dominican culture to the world.”
Freddy Ginebra said he considered the music sharing to be a “huge step” towards the involvement, on the part to the Tourism Ministry (SECTUR) and the Brugal Company, of Puerto Rico in this year’s festival as it will be simultaneously celebrated on Sunday night.
He stressed that this is the first time the Tourism Cluster of Santo Domingo is getting involved in this traditional event. “With our support, the hope is that this festival is more and more successful each day and that it translates into a special tourist attraction for our country. In the sense that all sectors of the country participate in the event, we will have the best ever Merengue Festival,” said Ginebra, founder of Casa de Teatro (Theater House).
“..the festival is a tradition that “should be maintained because it supports the music which is an expression of nationality and the very projection of Dominican culture to the world.”
Also speaking at the UNAPEC academic forum were such personalities as Iris Pérez, under-secretary of Training at SECTUR, who speaking for the Tourism Ministry under Félix Jiménez, discussed the cultural importance of Merengue.
In addition, panel participants included Tati Olmos, Director of Cultural Tourism for SECTUR; César Feris Iglesias, President of the UNAPEC Cultural Program and the Vice-Rector of UNAPEC, Carlos Sangiovanni.
Johny Ventura: The Engine Behind the Music
Academics, students and experts linked to the history of our music include such personalities as “the big horse” Johny Ventura who Solano identified as “the man who popularized Merengue.” He referred to Ventura’s combo “as the decisive contribution that kept Merengue relevant and current,” after the Trujillo dictatorship.
“The Merengue is the most important part of Dominican cultural heritage,” said Huchi Lora to effusive applause in the auditorium where the forum was held.
They both agreed with Catana Pérez that certain musicians have promoted the development of Merengue in its important moment and these include
Toño Abreu, Luis Alberti, Julio Alberto Hernández, Pancho García, Luis Kalaf and especially Ñico Lora, the rural musician who made popular the most universal Dominican rhythms with his “dressed in silk” agreements with singer Juan Luis Guerra, said the author of “Por amor”.
The event opened with a showy performance by the Dominican Folklore Ballet and SECTUR’s Conjunto Típico which also performed at the event’s closing ceremony.