Cuban choir travels from Havana to CSUEB


Jenise Kearney

The Camerata Vocale Sine Nomine is on tour in California.

Tiffany Jones,

Camerata Vocale Sine Nomine, an award-winning men’s acappella chamber chorus from Havana, Cuba, performed at California State University, East Bay on Tuesday.

The event hosted by the CSUEB Music Department and ACFEA Tour Consultants showcased performances by choirs Camerata Vocale Sine Nomine, the CSU East Bay Singers, as well as the Chabot College Chamber Singers.

Camerata Vocale Sine Nomine performed both traditional and contemporary pieces from North America and Cuba. They incorporated evocative hand gestures, dancing, and other movements into their performance.

The choir was founded in 2003 by Enrique Fililú O’Reilly and is now directed by Leonor Suárez. They have produced two CDs, have music featured in two films and have received many accolades; including an award from the annual Cuban music awards show CUBADISCOS.

Recently the choir began their first American tour. The tour consists of performances all over California. The choir has performed over 20 times in the last 15 days, according to choir members.

James came into contact with Suarez when she visited CSUEB two years ago in a musical and cultural exchange. Upon hearing about their American tour, James said he had to take advantage of the opportunity to have them perform on the CSUEB campus as a part of his efforts to help the growth of the School of Arts and Media.

Usail Zamora, a founding member of Camerata Vocale Sine Nomine, explains that the goal of beginning their American tour is to spread Cuban music, as well as learn more about North American music.

“As one of the founding members, it is my life to be a part of this choir. Everything is great about the tour,” said Zamora. “Singing with other choirs and working together is quite the experience.”

Founding Director of the School of Arts and Media Buddy James was the conductor for the CSUEB men’s choir. He said it was a “great honor” to host the Cuban choir on campus.

“The sharing of ideas and feelings, as well as enjoying each other’s presence, is at the heart of what it means to be a musician,” he said.

Zamora explains based from his experiences on the tour he thinks American choirs focus much more on the technicalities like harmony, while Cuban choirs base their music on soul and expression. He says the ideal skills, in his opinion, are to combine both technicality and soul.

James explains that although all three choirs come from different backgrounds, performing with each other enables groups to share their own music, talents and points of view.

“It was great to see something like this on campus. It was very enjoyable to see how different choirs with different cultures interacted with each other. Overall, it was a delightful experience to be a part of,” said Alejandro Rivera who attended the event.

The Chabot College Chamber Director, Leann Conley explains, “To hear beautiful singing, with good technique and engaging stage presence, was an inspiration for our singers, one that will no doubt boost our energy for singing, rehearsing and performing throughout the rest of the year.”