Flushing Town Hall Celebrates 40th Anniversary to the Beat of Cumbia

La Cumbiamba eNeYé (Courtesy photo via El Diario)

Flushing Town Hall is commemorating four decades of working with the Queens community with a grand celebration enlivened by the sounds of gaitas [Colombian flutes] and drums. The institution will inaugurate its anniversary season with a “fiesta Latina” highlighting Colombian traditions.

On Saturday, Jan. 26, music group La Cumbiamba eNeYé will offer a concert for the whole family, following an interactive art workshop. Musician, composer and founder Martín Vejarano explained why the public should not miss this event.

“We are very happy that our music will kick off a program as important as this year’s Flushing Town Hall anniversary, and we have prepared a special repertoire featuring catchy Colombian tunes. In addition, people will be able to learn about our music and some dance steps as well, which they can put into practice during the concert,” he said.

Speaking of the creation of La Cumbiamba eNeYé, composed of 10 New York-based musicians – the “eNeYé” in their name refers to the letters “n” and “y” – Vejarano said that he formed the group because he saw the need to promote his county’s music in the city.

“At first, it was just Ian Betancourt – a musician friend – and I playing the gaitas and drums in different parts of the city. Over time, we got to meet other artists with the same interests who joined the project,” he said.

La Cumbiamba eNeYé, born 19 years ago, has allowed Vejarano to stay close to the colorful nature of his roots in spite of the distance and the homesickness. He explained that the band’s work is not limited to concerts but includes an educational element, which they implement through the workshops they frequently offer.

“The workshops are an important part because they allow people to delve into the musical expressions of Colombia’s Pacific and Atlantic coasts and to become familiar with instruments such as indigenous flutes, drums and gaitas,” he emphasized.

Vejarano added that the musical scene has changed significantly since the group was formed in 2000, and that he is happy to see similar bands proliferate today, helping keep these rhythms alive in New York City.

eNeYé has a repertory of original songs and has recorded two albums, entitled “La palma” and “Marioneta.” Vejarano announced that the band will soon begin working on a new album, which may come out this year.

“We are in a period of high enthusiasm. After being together for almost two decades, the group feels like a big family. Each one of the musicians has their own projects and career, but we are all united by the love we have for La Cumbiamba and the joy we know we bring to the audience,” he concluded.

Aside from Vejarano, other artists in the group include María Alejandra “Alea” Jiménez, Sebastián Cruz, Chris Rodríguez, Sebastián Ángel and Julián Gómez.

The workshop scheduled to take place right before La Cumbiamba eNeYé’s concert is free of charge and will cover several techniques and musical instruments inherited from indigenous, European and African cultures. Reservations are not required. The first people to join the workshop will receive free percussion instruments, courtesy of Flushing Town Hall.

More information at flushingtownhall.org.

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