Afro-Puerto Rican Orchestra Performs at Bridgewater College



Afro-Puerto Rican music features keyboard, bass, trumpets, saxophones, trombones and plena drums with vocals. Not only did Kadencia perform on campus, but they also hosted a workshop on March 12.

Sammie Herbst, Staff Writer

Bridgewater, Va. – On March 12, Kadencia, a 13-instrument orchestra, performed in Cole Hall. Starting at 6 p.m. that night, they included an hour-long workshop, and ended at 9 p.m.. The orchestra, an Afro-Puerto Rican group, performed music from Bomba, Plena and Salsa to broadcast Puerto Rican music.

“We are a band that originated in 2007. We released our first album back in 2010,” said Maurice Sanabria-Ortiz, the group’s lead singer and co-founder. 

The group is currently working on their second album. His son, Maurice “Tito” Sanabria, is also a current member of Kadencia, who recently began a music career.

The band has a keyboardist, a guitar bassist, two trumpet players, a saxophone player, trombone player, singer, two drummers and two multi-instrumentalists and back-up singers.

For the first hour of their performance, a small ensemble composed of four of the group’s members led a workshop. They introduced two of their genres and gave theories and the history behind each genre.

Introducing Bomba, the group started by discussing the different instruments that made up the core of the rendition: the barrils, including a primo and a subidor, a maraca and a cuá. They even discussed the dances that were popular and often performed to Bomba.

Bomba was said to have been developed during the seventeenth century in Puerto Rico during the infamous slave trade and is said to have been a form of communication for those who did not speak the same dialect.

Next, they introduced Plena, a style formed during the twentieth century, but is suggested to have developed much earlier in history. Though there are several theories that claim Plena’s origin, none of them have been confirmed.

The group introduced those who attended their workshop to Plena drums, which include seguidor (bass), punteador (middle) and requiento (highest pitch). Other instruments include the guiro and the cuatro.

Once the workshop concluded, there was a half hour break before 7 p.m. when the performance began with Plena. Between each song, there was a brief introduction of the upcoming song’s meaning and the history behind it.

“I feel proud and grateful for the outstanding concert that we had last Saturday. This was an opportunity for the college community to get to know my Puerto Rican culture through its vibrant music. Kadencia’s magistral performance brought much-needed happiness and excitement to the audience. The sounds of salsa, plena, and bomba will remain in the heart of Bridgewater College forever,” said Assistant Professor of Music Vimari Colón-Leon.

During the second to last piece, many students, faculty members and members of the community joined the performers in dance. For the last song, which was an encore requested by audience members, was joined by Colón-Leon. Along with the band, Colon-Leon and a fellow flute player joined in.