Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Serenatta Launches Colombian Independence Day Celebrations

by Cindy McCain

Serenatta Romantic Latin Ensemble

July is a month of freedom festivals. Wednesday, July 20, is Colombian Independence Day and Serenatta Romantic Latin Ensemble will kickoff one of several events in Nashville scheduled to celebrate the South American country’s liberation. The fiesta is scheduled from 7-9 PM at Tequila's Mexican Restaurant located at 3736 Annex Avenue.

Pablo Garzon, Serenatta’s band leader, was born in Bogata where a riot started in 1810 led to the country’s independence from Spain. Garzon came to the US in 1983 as a Fulbright Scholar where he studied at Vanderbilt University’s Spanish Department and later at the Blair School of Music. He now works as an editor at The United Methodist Publishing House. He became a permanent resident in 1996 and a US citizen in 2004. I asked him what Colombian Independence Day means to him personally. He responded:
Colombia has gone through very difficult times, but at the present moment the country enjoys calm and prosperity: a good feeling for Colombians to celebrate during this Independence Day. It is the opportunity to gather the Colombian community to strengthen our social links and a good excuse to have a party.
For that party Garzon said Serenatta will play their Colombian repertoire and host Kendra Murray's Nashville Rueda: "They will perform cumbia, perhaps the Colombian rhythm better known internationally. “ He also thanked Luis Soto for providing the venue.

Most recently proving their global appeal and fondness of freedom, Serenatta played the Bastille Day celebration at Kalamatas in Brentwood last week. The owners, The Fawaz family, speak French fluently and have an affinity for French music. Garzon said, “It was a great success since many people came to eat and sing along to several traditional and classical songs from our French repertoire.”

Serenatta with members born in Mexico, Colombia and the U.S. grew organically. Garzon explained:
Even though Serenatta has gone through changes, it is a very stable group since 2001. This year we celebrate eleven years of existence and wonderful experiences.
 I started the group, without knowing it, with Jon Wolfe, friend and guitar player. When we started to practice regularly, a flute player joined in, then a harp player, then a bass player and then another violinist. The first Serenatta was formed by two violins, a flute, harp, guitar and upright bass. Through the years, every time we have a performance some musicians from the audience show interest and come to rehearsal. I want to keep my band open for all kind of possibilities.
Today in 2011, I have a singer, Luna Morena; a flute player, Leslee Rose; two violinists, Craig Duncan and Benjamin Sanders; two guitar players, Joey Butler and Robert Thompson; two bass players, Lorne Rall and Sam Frazee; and two percussionists, Mike Wyatt and Larry Murrow. I am sure new musicians will come to rehearsals and join the band. The more the merrier.
I asked Garzon what makes the group special. He proudly replied:
The discipline, dedication and love all the musicians express to play Latin American music. It is very meaningful to me to see that my musicians have embraced the music and culture of the Latin American countries with commitment. Joey Butler, one of my guitar players, has composed music for the band based upon Colombian rhythms like cumbia, pasillo and pasaje. The first time Colombian music is composed in Nashville, Tennessee! 
Serenatta’s spirit promises to be perfect for a Freedom Fest. Garzon says:
With a multiethnic gathering of ‘groupies’ (American, Mexican, Colombian, Bolivian, Jewish, Lebanese, Puerto Rican, Canadian, French, all of us living in Nashville), Serenatta Romantic Latin Ensemble hopes to continue to be an international ambassador for the enjoyment and delight that music gives to all of us.
Also scheduled for Colombian Independence Celebrations:

Writer Cindy McCain is the Nashville Latin dancing Examiner for Examiner.com. This is her first article for HispanicNashville.com.  McCain says her gypsy soul trapped in a Southern body finds cultural diversity and community in Nashville's pulsating Latin Dance scene. A longtime lover of dance and travel, the English- Instructor- By- Day, Salsa-Seeker- By- Night discovered in her own backyard not just an escape hatch but a portal to a new world. She showcases this global scene where people passionately dance beyond borders, finding joy and friendship in the Athens of the South. She invites you to bachata with her in the shadow of the Bellsouth Building and merengue rather than march to a different beat in Music City. You can contact her here with comments, events, or ideas for articles.

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