Songs that every Juan Luis Guerra fan knows the lyrics to by heart, like “Burbujas de Amor” and “Bachata Rosa,” were presented Tuesday this week at the Hollywood Bowl on the first night of the “Americas & Americans” festival.
Guerra has been writing beautiful poems set to bachata rhythms since long before bachata became the latest must-know step at tropical music dance schools and clubs. His lyrics speak of desperate and eternal love, the type that every lonesome soul professes to need, and of the realization of its fleetingness. Arguably every young Latino/a has sung Guerra’s lyrics and danced to his notes, even if behind closed doors. And in every Latin American country people have danced animatedly to his merengues, that fast music, like the artist original of the Dominican Republic, that can have suggestive lyrics and encourage sensual movements or that can be, as Guerra has made it, also an instrument to express fervent Christianity.
Guerra was accompanied by his band, “la 440,” which showed wild skills particularly during the few fast selections. Guerra also performed slow merengues that were backed by the L.A. Philharmonic under the direction of Gustavo Dudamel, who with this festival wants to show “that we are all one America.” In that effort, before the intermission Dudamel and the orchestra explored the music of great Latin American composers like Moncayo, Marquez, and Villalobos.
Dudamel’s intentions panned out. Those who did not know Guerra were seen asking their neighbors about him – where he is from, what the music is called, and admiring the tone of his voice and even his looks. And in a gorgeous warm night in Los Angeles, whatever their language, people stood up and danced in place to a last fast merengue and became a living example that, at least in music, we can be “all one America.”
The 55-year-old Guerra seemed moved by the response of the crowd at the Bowl, a loving public that here and there waved the Dominican flag and that, not completely satisfied with an encore, clapped insistently until he stepped on stage a third time to say a final good-bye.
–Courtesy of Examiner.com