This is how the 2021 National Prize of Music in Cuba felt on Sunday: blessed to have been born a musician in the land of music. José María Vitier was bestowed the award by the Minister of Culture Alpidio Alonso during a tribute concert offered by the National Symphony Orchestra (OSN).
In this case, the award rewards a solid musical career that has been able to bridge the gap between classical and popular music, in the opinion of the prestigious jury chaired by the Director of the National Choir, Digna Guerra, and also made up of maestros Guido López-Gavilán, Joaquín Betancourt, and Edesio Alejandro, all of whom were granted such important recognition in previous years.
"For his work and dedication to exalting the best values of the national culture," was selected the prominent pianist and composer, author of pieces such as Intimidad, Balada del amor adolescente, El Siglo de las Luces, Fresa y Chocolate, En silencio ha tenido que ser, and Julito el pescador, which were performed by the OSN on this occasion.
Some of these works remain not only in Cuba’s musical memory, but also in popular and emotional memory, since all these tracks accompanied emblematic audiovisuals and were also part of the soundtrack of generations of Cubans.
In this Sunday's concert, flutist Niurka González, soprano Bárbara Llanes and pianist Marcos Madrigal joined the tribute.
A poet of music
Vitier "boasts one of the numerically immense and most solid works of the composers of our generation," highlighted maestra Digna Guerra. More than thirty phonograph records in which he can be enjoyed as he comes and goes, lightly, from chamber music to jazz, showcasing an exquisite finesse every sonority that has moved his sensitivity, which, yes, it must be said, is inherited.
Son of Cintio Vitier and Fina García Marruz, the intellectual heritage of this genius of music named José María is quite something, as journalist and art critic Guille Vilar stated in an opinion article published by Granma newspaper:
“About this great Havana’s musician, much have been written. And his overwhelming creative work production is easily identified when exploring the most diverse instrumental formats and merging multiple influences in a personal language that immediately calls our attention. However, little has been said about the lyricism that he conveys as soon as he gets to the piano. Undoubtedly, the fact of being the son of Cintio Vitier and Fina García Marruz, essential poets and essayists, in addition to being the brother of the renowned guitarist Sergio Vitier, strengthens our opinion that we are before the actual definition of a poet of music.”
Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSí Translation Staff