October 25, 2008: SWEET PLANTAIN

"Blending jazz, Latin and classical styles, this virtuoso quartet brings a freshness and inventiveness to every note they play." - Stuart Malina, 2007 Tony Award winning conductor

Sweet Plantain is a string quartet that specializes in genre-blurring, contemporary works by Latin American composers as well as original compositions and arrangements. Its unique style fuses Latin, classical, jazz, and improvisational forms.

The group's mission is to give voice to a contemporary, urban, Latino sound, and so much of the group's repertoire is rooted in improvisation. The art of improvisation, once an integral part of western classical music, has all but been abandoned in the training and performance of classical artists, although it continues to occupy an important role in nearly every other musical genre. Sweet Plantain therefore works to weave the possibilities of improvisation into classical music by arranging existing pieces and writing original compositions that contain improvised sections. The group also makes use of extended percussive techniques, some of them original creations, to best achieve and showcase the rhythmic vitality characteristic of Latin music.

Much of the group's musical aesthetic stems from the diversity of its members. Both violinist Romulo Benavides and violinist/trombonist Eddie Venegas are native-born Venezuelans now active in New York City's Latin music scene. Violist Orlando Wells, born in Orange, NJ, hails from a family of Jazz musicians including distinguished drummer, Victor Jones. Cellist David Gotay was growing up in the Bronx, NY, when hip hop was first born and later exploded onto the scene, and he now doubles as a rapper in the New York City-based band, Sound Liberation. All of Sweet Plantain's members share a classically-trained background and studied at New York City's most prestigious institutions (including the Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music). Yet they all yearned for a more diverse means of musical expression than had been provided in their training, and so Sweet Plantain was born, enabling the four musicians to fuse their classical training with their broader array of diverse cultural influences.

Highlights of their 2006-2007 season include musical projects and collaborations with some of the world's leading artists. Sweet Plantain recorded with renowned composer Ryuichi Sakamoto on his score for the film, Silk. Sweet Plantain also had the privilege of presenting a concert in collaboration with Composers Concordance, debuting nine world premieres from such notable composers as Margaret Brouwer, Daron Hagen, Andy Brick, and Gene Pritsker. Finally, Sweet Plantain collaborated with celebrated choreographer, Bill T. Jones, and the Afro beat vanguards, Antibalas, to present a workshop for the genesis of a Broadway musical about the life and music of Fela Kuti.

The group's commitment to musical education, and its particular commitment to the musical education of New York's urban youth, has additionally found Sweet Plantain designing and running a new string program at the St. Ignatius School located in the Hunts Point area of the south Bronx, one of the most underserved neighborhoods nationwide. They have designed the curricula to empower the students through musical forms representative of their community's cultural heritage, while at the same time exposing them to classic western forms.

Name Sales End Price Fee
Adults Ended $20 $0.99
Seniors/Students (12+) Ended $15 $0.99

On the Web

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