I wanted to share a wonderful musical labor of love with you all today.
But first, a bit of background for more context.
During my time studying music in Cuba as a teenager, I had the wonderful opportunity to study with one of Cuba’s greatest pianists and composers, Andres Alen. My husband, William Villaverde, is Cuban and is also a concert pianist, and the two of us studied with Andres for several years.
Our time in Andres’s piano studio marked our life in one of the most significant ways. Andres was not only an incredible musical genius and transformative pedagogue, but his dedication to his students, and the way in which he influenced us through his musical lens had a deep effect in how my husband and I ended up seeing the world of music, and our place within it.
We were able to witness his compositional process, even at times being among the first in his circle to listen to his latest works and to perform his newly-composed music.
A few months after we arrived to the US to continue our musical studies at the College of Charleston, SC, Andres and his wife, Loly, also a pianist, came to the US to attend the Latin Grammy awards where Andres was a nominated composer and performer.
Unfortunately, the award ceremony ended up being cancelled due to the Sept. 11th, terrorist attacks that year.
Before returning to Cuba, Andres and his wife came to Charleston to visit us. We had a wonderful time together and it was almost surreal to be able to be with him in the US, knowing the challenging circumstances and travel restrictions between Cuba and the US.
A few years after his US visit, Andres and his wife moved to Spain.
My husband and I had the great fortune to be able to visit them twice during a couple of trips to Spain where we travelled to perform concerts in different parts of the country.
During our encounters with Andres, we were able to witness his continued evolution as a composer, pianist, and educator. It was truly a fascinating experience to see how his musical aesthetics became transformed in his new environment, while also staying deeply connected to his musical roots of Cuban music, Classical music, and popular music.
My husband and I pursued all our music degrees together in the US, culminating in our doctoral degrees in music. When it came time to decide on a dissertation topic, my husband decided to devote his dissertation to the piano works of Andres Alen.
A few years later, he also released a CD, called Cuban Memoirs, where he performed all of Alen’s piano works up to the year 2000.
I also chose one of Alen’s works for my Debut Album, as this particular piece was one of my favorites, and I was among the first to learn and perform this piece shortly after it being composed.
Needless to say, there are so many aspects of our personal and musical lives that tie us together with Andres, and we are incredibly grateful to have been able to have such an influential figure in our lives.
Last year he turned 70 years old, and a beautiful tribute was made by musicians around the world, including his present and former students, his wife, Andres’s own professor, and other colleagues and admirers.
This beautiful collage showcases all of the musicians who joined in this tribute. The theme of each variation set was performed by Andres and his wife, Loly.
Here is one of the video tributes that was made including a performance by yours truly (keep your eyes peeled around min 6:13).
Here is the other video tribute which includes a performance by my husband, William, around min 10:20.
I’m honored to have been included among such incredible musicians from around the world and feel so grateful to be able to share this important part of my story with all of you.
I hope you enjoy listening to this musical labor of love!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
PS. Let me know if you too have had any musical mentors who’ve had a life-long impact in your life. I’d love to hear from you!