Bronx, N.Y. – January 27, 2017 – The Multicultural Music Group (MMG), a Bronx-based non-profit organization providing multicultural symphonic presentations, teacher training workshops and instrumental music programs to the New York City communities, will launch its 16th Annual Multicultural Music Encounters XVI (MME XVI). The MME are ecliptic presentations that involve panel discussions about different historical events from around the world and musical presentations depicting these events. These presentations are created with the intention of promoting social justice and international empathy by increasing appreciation and respect for different cultures through musical and historical communication. The inclusive four nights of history, multicultural music and arts series will take place at the Aaron Davis Hall on March 22nd, 2017; the Lovinger Theater in Lehman College on April 28th, 2017; the Metropolitan University in San Juan, Puerto Rico on May 26th, 2017; and the Fort Tryon Park in NYC on June 17th, 2017.

This year’s series explores two distinct themes: The Dominican diaspora in the US – Voicing Quisqueya on the Hudson and the current socio-economic crisis in Puerto Rico – Notes of Hope.

For the first and fourth presentations of the series, the MME will focus on the Dominican diaspora in the US: Voicing Quisqueya on the Hudson. These presentations will introduce one of the fastest growing and most contributing Latino groups in the east coast of the United States. Dominicans are currently the largest Latino grouping New York City and share the privilege of residing in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. Therefore, their presence is undeniable in matters of education at all levels. Nevertheless, the integration of Dominican culture in the K-12 curricula is almost inexistent. Moreover, at the higher education level there aren’t many courses on Dominican Studies, and there is a lack of Dominican faculty in many higher education institutions. As a result of this situation, the MMG will present panel discussions introducing a variety of topics in Dominican history from the Battle of Palo Hincado, the African Heritage, the Parsley Massacre, to the current economic growth which makes the Dominican Republic one of the most solid economies in the Caribbean. The music of Rafael Petitón Guzmán and Juan Colón has been selected to depict these events. Mr. Petitón Guzmán, one of the pioneers of traditional Caribbean music in big band and small chamber ensemble, will be the major focus for this musical compendium during the early years of the 1900’s. Mr. Juan Colón, virtuoso saxophone player and prolific composer for popular and symphonic ensembles, will provide the themes depicting the events in the most recent years of the Dominican history. The arrangements and orchestrations of this programmatic music will be under the direction of Mr. Luis Columna, Artistic Director of the MMG with the assistance of John Bimbiras, Research Associate at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute at City College of New York. The panel discussion for these presentations will be composed by Dr. Ramona, Hernandez, Director of the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute; Ms. Michele Wucker, Executive Director of the World Policy Institute, and author of Why the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians and the Struggle for Hispaniola; and Dr. Edward Paulino, History Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

For the second and third presentations, the MME will present Puerto Rico: Notes of Hope. These presentations are an introduction to the current socio-economic situation of Puerto Rico. The panel discussion will present the causes, consequences and possible solutions to the current crisis. Scholars from the CUNY Graduate Center in NYC and the Metropolitan University in San Juan will present their view to the current situation and their perception for solutions in the four following areas: Economy – the economic status, the mobility rate, and new ideas; Health – the health condition in PR, the reality of the health system situation in PR and the unequal benefits of services in the island and the mainland; Education – quality education in public schools, high school completion, higher education effect, and the commitment of graduates to support communities; Public Administration (public policy) – Laws and policies affecting the life of residents of Puerto Rico. The musical pieces presented at Notes of Hope will depict chronologically the social and economic situation of Puerto Rico during the past 75 years. The composer and pianist in charge of creating this compendium of music will be three times Grammy Award winner, Dr. William Rodriguez. Dr. Rodriguez has been a pioneer in Latin music as a pianist, arranger, composer and educator. He performed with Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Johnny Pacheco and the Fania All Stars. He graduated from Teachers College, Columbia University as a Doctor in Education and founded the nation-wide recognized performing arts school in the Bronx: the Celia Cruz Music High School. The panelists for these presentations will be composed by Dr. Carlos Torre in New York, Associate Professor of Education at Southern Connecticut State University; Dr. Ian Seda-Irizarry, Assistant Professor of Economy at John Jay College of Criminal Justice; Dr. Johnny Colon, Professor of Public Health of Stony Brook from the State University of New York; and Dr. Luis Muniz, Professor of Law at the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras.

The learn more about the events, please contact:

Wilfredo J. Burgos Matos

Communications Officer