YALIL GUERRA: A CUBAN ICONOCLAST

yalil guerra

Amazing how connections happen on Facebook! Thanks to a post by another Facebook friend I came upon the name of Yalil Guerra, a Cuban-born composer now residing in California. Aside from the serendipity of making friends with this fellow Cuban musician, there’s the added reward of his music being a most interesting discovery.

This all began when another Facebook friend sent a clip of a piano trio playing a heartfelt ‘La Bella Cubana’, a 19th century Cuban song by José White in an exquisite arrangement by Guerra. Several Facebook and email messages followed in both directions, after which I sat down to listen to Yalil Guerra’s String Quartet No. 3, “In Memoriam Ludwig van Beethoven” (https://youtu.be/R9AfDfAIBck)

Yalil Guerra has the talent to straddle comfortably two musical worlds. His String Quartet No. 3 has its musical roots in 20th century atonality. It is an elegantly constructed composition that provides its players with a full workout and that clearly belongs in the realm of contemporary art music, filled as it is with intricacy and the asperities that occupy stage center in the world of post Schoenberg musical composition, yet eminently accessible.

And then there’s the ‘other’ Yalil Guerra. Having grown up in a musical show biz family in his native Cuba he toured with Mom and Dad and Sister Yamila, then traversed the journey of a serious musician, with conservatory training in Havana, then Spain, then UCLA. He then branches out and rather than waiting for the next gig to come his way he creates his own recording studio and production company: RYCY Productions Inc., where he then goes on to record his own music and that of others.

Here is two highlights from his score for the documentary film A WEEKEND IN HAVANA with some red hot music from his pen: https://youtu.be/5MgjVlF-MH0 https://youtu.be/kfC5-M3g6Og

Turn that sizzling page to another Havana inspired piece: OLD HAVANA: https://youtu.be/EDiJqURDWeA and you will hear yet another facet of his musical prism: the deeply melancholy sound of another one of those Caribbean islanders who can’t quite get homesickness out of his heart.

I am happy to have found Yalil Guerra, the friend and over the Havana moon to have discovered his quintessentially Cuban music.

Rafael de Acha

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