Celebrations for the centenary of Cuban musician Ñico Rojas

Cuban musician Ñico Rojas, who helped develop the Cuban form of song known as filin

August 3 marks the centenary of the birth of the Cuban musician José Antonio Rojas, and various cultural institutions have joined forces to honour this legend of Cuban culture.

The Cuban Institute of Music (ICM) and the National Concert Music Center (CNMC), together with the Music Museum, the Cuban Music Research and Development Center (CIDMUC), the Recording Company and Ediciones Musicales (EGREM) and the Popular Music Chair of the National School of Music (ENM), with the support of relatives of the artist, known as Ñico Rojas, have organised a program of activities in tribute to his legacy.

According to Madelaine Masses Baldivares, director CNMC, for the centenary day films will be screened of artists interpreting works by Rojas, including: Beatriz Márquez, Bárbara Llanes, Rolando Luna, Ahmed Dickinson , José Portillo and the Amadeo Roldán Quartet.

Two concerts will be made available to the public, on August 3 and 6, respectively, on Canal Clave, in the Cuban online music concert spaces.

CIDMUC will present a dossier on the musician’s legacy on its digital blog ‘Del canto y el tiempo’.

The musicologist from CIDMUC, Yurien Heredia, said the dossier will contain texts about the work of Ñico with the guitar and also aspects of his personal life.

Liety Ramos, musicologist at the National Museum of Music, said that they will have a day of presentations and will have two books on sale: ‘Ñico Rojas’, by Ivón Peñalver; and ‘Works for guitar. Transcription’ by Martín Pedreira.

Ñico Rojas, who was awarded the Félix Varela Order, the Alejo Carpentier award and the Distinction for National Culture, stood out for his unprecedented way of composing instrumental music.

Graduated as an engineer, and without academic studies in music, he managed to find his creative style on the frontiers between the classic and the popular, with the use of different Cuban rhythms.

Link to original report in Spanish by Cuban news agency ACN

More about Ñico Rojas

Ñico Rojas (August 3, 1921 – November 22, 2008 in Havana, Cuba) was a prominent Cuban composer and guitarist, considered as one of the founders of a style of Cuban song called filin.

In the 1940s, while he was still studying at the University, Ñico became a member of a group of artists that created a new style of Cuban song, called filin, which combined Cuban rhythms with harmonies and melodies influenced by American jazz during the 1940s and 1950s.

Ñico Rojas continued cultivating his love of music by composing songs such as the boleros “Mi Ayer”, “Ahora sí sé que te quiero” y “Sé consciente”, which were recorded by renowned singers as Pepe Reyes, Orlando Vallejo and Miguelito Valdés; and numerous pieces for the guitar that included influences from classical music as well as from the most popular traditions. That way, Rojas was able to create a unique guitar style that showed great complexity and technical virtuosity, about which the Cuban musicologist Leonardo Acosta said: “it overflows with emotion, vitality and intellect”.

The pieces for guitar of Ñico Rojas have been transcribed by prominent Cuban guitarist Martín Pedreira, as well as by José A. Perez Miranda y Ahmed Dickinson, and published by EGREM in Cuba.

Listen to the music of Ñico Rojas

Buy the CD ‘Ahmed Dickinson: Plays Nico Rojas’ here