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Lauded bachata artist Joan Soriano to play Peirce Pub

Lauded bachata artist Joan Soriano to play Peirce Pub

By Staff

The first guitar he ever played he fashioned himself out of a tin can and fishing line. Now, internationally acclaimed bachata artist Joan Soriano plucks a steel-string guitar and sings for crowds across the Americas and Europe.

Soriano and his band will play this Friday at 8 p.m. in Peirce Pub in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. This is Soriano’s second visit to Kenyon, returning after an enthusiastic reception to his performance in 2011.

“It was great. It really brought faculty and staff and students together,” Sarai Martinez ’15, former president of Adelante, said. “Everyone was dancing; whether they knew how to bachata dance or not, everyone tried and pulled out their best moves.”

Bachata music developed in the Dominican Republic from a blend of European, African, Latin American and Caribbean musical styles.

It is guitar-driven, with lead guitar and rhythm guitar or bass conversing beneath the bittersweet lyrics of the singer. Bongos and g?ira, a percussion instrument from the Dominican Republic, provide the beat.

Like his genre, Soriano was born near Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. The seventh of 15 children, Soriano’s first band was comprised of his brothers and sisters. Soriano’s music remains a family affair as La Familia Soriano continues to collaborate on recordings and tours.

Soriano sticks close to bachata’s roots, setting him apart from his contemporaries, such as Prince Royce and Toby Love, who have taken a more modern, electronic approach.

He uses afro-inspired beats and clean guitar lines to make particularly danceable music. Staying true to the style, Soriano’s songs tell stories of lost love, longing and romance.

Assistant Professor of Spanish Travis Landry was instrumental in bringing Soriano to Kenyon both in 2011 and this year. He first heard of Soriano from a college friend, who is Soriano’s producer with iASO Records. Soriano’s visit in 2011 came as a last-minute opportunity. However, Landry hopes that, with more time to prepare and publicize, the event will draw a wider audience this year.

“I would hope that students really take advantage of the opportunity, because it’s one thing to think of it in terms of Hispanic Heritage Month or some sort of Latin music, but it’s another thing just to think of this as beautiful music and this phenomenal artist who’s coming,” Landry said.

Martinez and others from the Kenyon community do not want people to feel that this is an exclusive cultural event.

“I think one of the biggest reasons why people are discouraged to attend this particular concert ナ is that they feel they don’t have that connection to the Hispanic community if they themselves aren’t Hispanic,” Martinez said. “But in reality you don’t have to be Hispanic nor speak Spanish as long as you’re willing to learn something new. So it would be nice to just come out, learn about bachata dancing and Hispanic Heritage Month ナ and really just have a good time on a Friday night.”

Landry said he hopes the concert will help break down reservations about attending cultural events. For those who attended the Soriano concert in 2011, Landry did not see the language barrier as an issue.

“It spoke that universal language of music,” Landry said. “Rather than thinking it felt foreign, it ended up feeling very close to home and close to my heart in some ways because it was different, and yet I think somehow it felt familiar.”

For those wishing to learn more about Soriano’s life, there will be a screening of Adam Taub’s award-winning documentary on Soriano, The Duke of Bachata, on Sept. 19 at 7 p.m. in Olin Auditorium.

Also traveling with Soriano is bachata instructor Carlos Cinta. He will be teaching a bachata master class from 1-3 p.m. on Friday afternoon in the Bolton Dance Studio for anyone hoping to brush up on their dance moves before the concert.

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