Michael Spiro Brings The Music of Cuba to Harper –ajs -mts

Rebecca Carvalho

Last weekend, on Super Bowl Sunday, Lawrence University music students and other admirers of the art got together at 3 p.m. in Harper Hall to attend the latest World Music Series event, titled “The Music of Cuba.” The event was an interactive lecture by special guest Michael Spiro.
The percussion instruments were shining under the lights of the Harper Hall stage. Sitting on stage, Michael Spiro was happily chatting while waiting for his audience to come.
Jamie Ryan, alumna and lecturer in music, introduced Spiro as his “mentor, teacher, and friend — a person who I met in the past and my life was never the same after.”
The “mentor” looked at the audience with a smile on his face. “Why are you all here on a Super Bowl Sunday?” he asked. An audience member answered, “Because you are more important!” Spiro was ready to show the audience the meaning of dedication to an area of interest — in his case, Cuban music: the reason, as he explained, to get up every morning.
Spiro first taught the audience some facts about the colonial history of Cuba, a Caribbean island under the possession of Spain, with its economy based on sugar cane plantations.
“Africans were sent to the island of Cuba and brought music with them. This kind of music, nowadays, not only survives in Cuba, but lives and breathes,” Spiro said.
He made a demonstration with bata drums, and explained that this music style is extremely complex, with hundreds of rhythms.
Percussion and singing of the sacred music of the Orishas — African deities — overheated Harper Hall as an amazing example of Afro-Cuban influence.
Later in the lecture, Lawrence University percussion students went to the stage and, led by Spiro and Ryan, showed the audience a music style called Rumba, a result of the combination between Spanish and African influences.
After his presentation, Spiro was surrounded by students and other members of the audience interested in hearing more from this talented man.
“Oi, tudo bom?” he asked me in Portuguese, which means, “Hi, how are you?” His knowledge of Portuguese results from his various links with other Latin American countries, such as Brazil.
When asked about his passion about the Cuban music, he said jokingly, “One day in the past I heard the rhythm, and it became my ruin!