The International Latino Culture Center ( ILCC ) of Chicago kicks off its 13th Chicago Latino Music Festival this week.
From Wed., Oct. 17 through Saturday, Nov. 18, ILCC will oversee eight concerts at venues throughout the city such as Instituto Cervantes, Columbia College, Old Town School of Folk Music and the Art Institute of Chicago. Founded by Gustavo Leone and Elbio Barilari, the festival features numerous free performances of music ranging from classical to rock.
Windy City Times: What inspired you to create this festival?
Gustavo Leone: Seeing that there was a lack of this music in already-established events, we started to work on creating a space so that Latin-American or Hispanic music could be presented or appreciated by the public.
WCT: What makes this festival different from others?
GL: The variety of music that is represented in the different styles and from different time periods in history that are not normally presented such as music from the 19th century. There are also music compositions of today and one project that is made up of children from Mexico with a composer.
WCT: This is your 13th year putting on the fest. How has it changed from the first year?
GL: At first, we were establishing ourselves in the eyes of the audience because this is music that exists and has existed more than 300 years, and to see it presented should be something normal to see, and is has to interest us.
WCT: Why should it interest the public?
GL: It's not only that it doesn't appear in books, it doesn't factor into Latin American music. There is no chapter on baroque Latin American music, colonial music. It is something totally ignored. This year we are not presenting historical music, but we have done it every year. Last year, it was the music from the 18th century and the year before that, it was an opera from the Jesuit missions, also from the 18th century. And this is all music that doesn't get in the books but all this is going to change.
WCT: Will this change because of its exposure through this festival?
GL: Because of everything, because today the resurgence of this music and the study of this music are what students are music are studying. And now this music is being heard more, including in the programs that we create and also included in different Latin American music festivals around the country. It's important to have these events in order to provide information to the public about it.
WCT: What type of music do you think people think of when they hear the term "Latin American music?"
GL: They think of folkloric music, and that's important of course and that is more commonly heard than classical music or concert music. Some may not realize that there is classical music, that there is a history in Latin America or, I should say, the Americas.
WCT: Is there any sociopolitical context throughout the program?
GL: In other programs we have done that before, but in this case, we don't have anything with a political or social connection.
WCT: What should people expect when they come to one of the shows?
GL: They will be surprised because each concert is a different style. In the first concert, they will hear jazz with Latin influences. In the second concert, they will find modern classical music by Latin American composers.
The next program will be guitar music, then a string quartet, an electronic music program, followed by Puerto Rican music and also guitar music in both Latin American and Spanish styles. Finally, the program will end with a concert of improvised music, with trumpets and special rock 'n roll sounds, free jazz and some elements of Bassanova and electronic music.
WCT: How much Spanish does one need to know to enjoy these shows?
GL: You don't need to know any Spanish. You simply need to feel the need to listen to music and then choose the program you'd like to attend.
WCT: Are these events set up for the audience to dance to the music?
GL: These are all concerts where the audience does not interact but watches the music performed on a stage.
WCT: Why do you think these events are important?
GL: We feel that this music-Latin American classical music is not as represented, and that is why we dedicate our time to this.
For more information about the festival, go to latinoculturalcenter.org/chicagolatinomusicfest/ .