Performance Friday, November 30, 2012 | 9:30 PM

Yoruba Andabo

The Afro-Cuban Tradition

Zankel Hall
The legendary folkloric group Yoruba Andabo ("friends of Yoruba culture") presents an evening of Cuban rumba. With singers, percussionists, and dancers, Yoruba Andabo performs ecstatic percussion-driven dances that reveal the ongoing influence of African religion and traditions in contemporary Cuba.

This concert is part of Late Nights at Zankel Hall.

El legendario grupo folclórico Yoruba Andabo ("amigos de la cultura yoruba") nos regala una noche de rumba cubana. Los cantantes, percusionistas y bailarines de esta agrupación ofrecen fascinantes danzas que revelan la influencia continua de la religión y las tradiciones africanas en la Cuba contemporánea.

Este concierto es parte de Late Nights en Zankel Hall.

O lendário grupo folclórico Yoruba Andabo ("amigos da cultura Yorubá") apresenta uma noite de rumba cubana. Com cantores, percussionistas e dançarinos, Yoruba Andabo realiza espetáculos arrebatadores de dança e percussão, que revelam a influência contínua da religião e tradições africanas na Cuba contemporânea.

Este concerto faz parte de Late Nights em Zankel Hall.


  • Yoruba Andabo
    ·· Matías Geovani del Pino, Director, Vocals, and Percussion
    ·· Juan Campos, Vocals
    ·· Ronald González, Vocals
    ·· Regla Monet, Vocals
    ·· Demián Díaz, Vocals
    ·· Felipe Santiago Abreus, Vocals
    ·· Orlando Lage, Percussion
    ·· Julio César Lemoine, Percussion
    ·· Michael Herrera, Percussion
    ·· Didiel Armando Acosta, Percussion
    ·· Lesmais Quintero, Percussion
    ·· Zulema Pedroso, Dancer
    ·· Jennyselt Lázara Galata, Dancer
    ·· Pedro Lázaro Monteaguso, Dancer
    ·· Vladimir Silvio Quevedo, Dancer


  • Yoruba Andabo

    The genesis of the Yoruba Andabo company dates back to Havana in 1961, when workers came together for labor-union parties and artistic events. They formed the Maritime and Port Guaguanco, an ensemble that became Yoruba Andabo in 1985. Since then, Yoruba Andabo has performed in presentations organized by the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC); in liaison with EGREM, the Cuban record label of singer-songwriter Pablo Milanés; and with folk singer Merceditas Valdés.

    The company currently comprises 15 artists: singers, percussionists, and dancers. Yoruba Andabo cultivates distinct musical genres from the African roots of Cuban culture that include Congo, Yoruba, and Abakuá cycles and the traditional rumba rhythms, especially the yambú, guaguancó, and columbia. Yoruba Andabo additionally incorporates elements from other musical genres to create its own contemporary sound.

    Various artists from the company are instructors, leading master classes and workshops in singing, dance, and percussion. They are motivated by a wide-ranging musical repertoire and unique choreography.

    Yoruba Andabo has been featured on more than 20 recordings, including Spirits of Havana (winner of a Juno Award in 1993); El callejon de los rumberos; Aché IV; Aché V; La rumba soy lo (winner of a Latin Grammy Award in 2001); Tremenda rumba! (nominated for a Latin Grammy Award in 2004); and Rumba en la Habana con Yoruba Andabo (nominated for Latin Grammy Award in 2006). In 2012, they recorded the album El espíritu de la rumba, licensed by Bis Music.

    Yoruba Andabo has performed throughout Canada, the US, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Mexico, Spain, Brazil, French Guiana, Venezuela, Guadeloupe, Switzerland, Norway, France, and the UK, including London's Barbican Centre.

    More Info

Lead funding for Voices from Latin America is provided by grants from the Ford Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Sponsored, in part, by Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and Mercantil Servicios Financieros.

Public support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Consulate General of Brazil in New York.



Yoruba Andabo
Yoruba Andabo
La Gozadera
Yoruba Andabo

Fernando González on Yoruba Andabo

Translating popular dance and music traditions to the stage is an art in itself. Yoruba Andabo—the 15-piece company from Cuba that comprises singers, musicians, and dancers—has a long and distinguished practice of turning theaters into a Havana backyard and then filling them with the sounds of a rumba, a conga, or a bembé (a party dedicated to the Orishas, the deities of the syncretic, West-African-rooted religion known in the New World as Santería or La Regla de Ocha).

"It's a show that has the feel of a great party, a celebration of Cuban culture and African roots," explains Matías Geovani del Pino, director, founder, and one of the group's performers. The program by Yoruba Andabo (the name loosely translates to mean "friends of the Yoruba") includes musical invocations from ancient Yoruba and Abakuá religious traditions, corresponding to different African nations and passed on from generation to generation over centuries, as well as traditional rumba and a closing conga habanera.

The performance "includes music from those liturgies. However, it's not religious music, but artistic representations of that music," explained del Pino. As for the rumba, an Afro-Cuban style with African and Spanish roots, it's featured in three traditional styles—yambú, guaguancó and columbia—each with its own distinct sound, pace, and choreography.

"We have our own way of playing [rumba]," explains del Pino. "We call it guarapachangueo. We utilize the same principles, but with different sonorities. And within that framework, the improvisation is constant. The drummers "speak" to one another, but also the dancers "dialogue" with the quinto [the highest pitched and most improvising drum in the ensemble]. The dancers cue the quinto, but the quinto paces the steps—they follow each other."

Both main musical sources of the performance—religious Afro-Cuban music and rumba—are not cultural artifacts, but very much living traditions in Cuba. In fact, some instruments, such as the hourglass-shaped, double-headed batá drum, and many of their rhythms have been long incorporated into many popular styles, from rock and salsa to hip-hop and jazz. Conversely, rumba groups have created fusions that draw elements from popular music.

In Yoruba Andabo's work, the aim is to "always stay close to the tradition while showing its evolution," says del Pino. "After all, a genre like the rumba is a living thing. Rumba is not the absolute root of all Cuban dance music, but it is implicit in all of it. And because of it, it lives within every Cuban. Rumba is an expression of Cubanía—Cubanity."

—Fernando González is an independent music writer and critic whose work appears regularly in The Miami Herald, JazzTimes, and The International Review of Music.
Program Notes





Latin American Music and Artists at Carnegie Hall: From the Carnegie Hall Archives.

This performance is part of Voices from Cuba, and World Views.

Part of