“Otra, otra, otra!” The audience chanted in unison after the Spanish Harlem Orchestra’s performance in the Alice Jepson Theater on Thursday night. Otra is the Spanish word for “another”; the crowd was requesting an encore.
Oscar Hernández, the musical director and pianist of the two-time, Grammy-winning group, announced that they would perform one final song. The crowd cheered in response and clapped to the rhythm of the music. Some danced in front of their seats, while others grabbed a partner and salsa-danced in the space provided in front of the stage. Just as it was warned in the description of the event on the Modlin Center’s website, dancing seemed to be an involuntary action during this concert.
“The concert was awesome,” said Tosin Olufolabi, a senior who attended. “People in the audience were very into the music and more willing to participate and engage than in other orchestra concerts.”
The Spanish Harlem Orchestra is a salsa and Latin-jazz group based in New York and composed of 13 musicians from the United States and different Latin American countries. According to its website, the group is on a mission to keep the musical legacy of “hard salsa” alive and expand its audience to those who love all music, not just Latin music.
Ayanna McMullen, a resident of Richmond who attended the concert, said she had not heard of the group prior to the concert, but she had really enjoyed the performance.
“It was fantastic. That’s the only word I have for it,” she said.
The Spanish Harlem Orchestra played a combination of songs from their old albums and their newly released album, "Spanish Harlem Orchestra." There were various instrumental solos during the concert, and the three vocalists, Ray de la Paz, Marco Bermudez and Carlos Cascante, danced and engaged the audience with comments in both Spanish and English.
After the concert, Dennis Winston, an artist and alumnus of University of Richmond’s School of Continuing Studies, said he frequently attended performances at Modlin Center and enjoyed their diversity.
“It’s a great venue and a great crowd,” he said.
While on stage, Hernández said he was happy that the group could contribute to the diversity of performers presented by the Modlin Center for the Arts.
Copies of the group’s newest album were sold outside the theater after the concert. Hernández, de la Paz, Bermudez and Cascante stayed to give autographs and take pictures with old and new fans.
Contact reporter Maria Eugenia Fernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org