When Hermelindo Ruiz finished his “Encuentro,” he added a flamenco flourish—and wandered back two centuries.
Ruiz performed the original composition (which means “Encounter” in Spanish) in the offices of the Spanish-language weekly newspaper La Voz Hispana during a visit to promote a concert he’s giving in Fair Haven this weekend. Click on the play arrow to listen to the composition.
Ruiz, a 25-year-old Puerto Rican native currently stationed at the Yale School of Music, plans to display, and discuss, his encounters with Latin American and Spanish musical tradition at the Saturday performance at Fair Haven’s Bregamos Theater (which you enter on Blatchley Avenue between State and Peck Streets). The free performance starts at 3 p.m. It is sponsored by a local not-for-profit Latino youth organization called Pequeñas Ligas Hispanas de New Haven. (Call 203-787-3848 for event details.)
This kind of performance represents the collateral benefits New Haven has reaped since a donor gave Yale’s music school $100 million. The school eliminated tuition thanks to that gift—and it began attracting some of the world’s leading musicians, whom we get to hear in recitals at Sprague Hall and in the community.
After finishing his master’s last year, Ruiz decided to stay on at Yale for further study. He has also traveled through Europe soaking up influences to develop his playing and compositional style. He traces his influences back two centuries to the great Spanish classical guitarist Fernando Sor through Paraguayan Agustín Barrios Mangoré and Brazilian Heitor-Villa-Lobos a century later.
Classical composers like Bach influenced those composers, as is the case with Ruiz. That influence becomes interwoven with the rhythms and melodies of the Latino composers’ own traditions.
That’s the ground on which Ruiz stands—or plucks and strums.
“The modern guitar is basically an instrument from Spain,” Ruiz said. “And we as [Puerto Ricans], we have all those traditions coming right form Spain, because we were a colony in those times. The 20th century is the century of [Latino] composers writing for the classical guitar, the way I see it,” Ruiz said. He’s bringing that tradition into a new century.