Silvio’s angels in New York

Silvio Rodríguez sang “Cita con ángeles” on the natural stage for that song. At least three misfortunes of the “winged beings from another world” have an intense connection with New York: Martí, the “angel on horseback”; John Lennon, shot down in front of “Central Park” full of people and the “thousands who fell” in the attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Center 16 years ago.

“I dedicate this song to the martyrs, to the innocent people of that day,” said Silvio. The September 11, 2001 attack against the twin towers was the macabre spectacle with which we entered the new millennium, a demolishing blow in the heart of the so-called world capital that has again received the Cuban trova singer, seven years after his last performance in the United States.

Silvio in concert in New York’s Summer Stage. Photo: Gabriel Guerra Bianchini.
Silvio in concert in New York’s Summer Stage. Photo: Gabriel Guerra Bianchini.

To this is added that for him “New York is a partly mythological city…. It has a special fascination for me because it was the hometown of Whitman, a poet I always greatly admired. And for having taken in during fundamental years the genius of Martí.”

The repertoire included songs from the CD Amorios (2015), written between 1967 and 1980 and which Silvio had not included in any record. He of course sang his classics, with new arrangements, La maza, Ojalá, Pequeña serenata diurna…. The Unicornio he did only on guitar, like at the beginning of his career.

As is usual in recent years and in the concerts of the tour through the barrios he’s been doing since September 2010, he was accompanied by Niurka González on the flute and clarinet, Trovarroco on the strings, Jorge Aragón on the piano, Emilio Vega on the vibraphone, Oliver Valdés on the drums and Jorge Reyes on the double bass.

Silvio Rodríguez in Summer Stage. Photo: Gabriel Guerra Bianchini.
Silvio Rodríguez in Summer Stage. Photo: Gabriel Guerra Bianchini.

The trova singer also recalled Pastor Lucius Walker, leader of the Peace Caravans that challenged the U.S. blockade and took to Cuba donations to help the Cuban population. “I also dedicate it to Lucius, who was such a great friend of Cuba, who did us so much good. Viva Lucius! He lives on!” As part of the Pastors for Peace, Walker organized 21 missions to Cuba, always through Canada and Mexico.

He also spoke of another U.S. friend: Pete Seeger. He said the T-shirt he was wearing was given to him by Seeger, and that under the guitar on it it reads: this machine is to kill fascists. “Mine is not so harsh,” said Silvio, “mine is to win over hearts.” This was followed by a generalized applause in a city that resists the return of expressions of xenophobia and intolerance.

The concert, announced since August, was held in Central Park for some 4,000 people who sang along his songs and shouted with different Spanish accents. Latin Americans from several countries, and Cubans, of course. Some of them had not heard the trova singer live for several decades, ever since they left the island and established themselves in the United States.

Jorge Reyes in Silvio’s concert in Summer Stage. Photo: Gabriel Guerra Bianchini.
Jorge Reyes in Silvio’s concert in Summer Stage. Photo: Gabriel Guerra Bianchini.

In one of his comments from song to song, Silvio said in relation to the disaster caused by Hurricane Irma, in the Caribbean as well as in Florida, that he was “concerned about all those who have had to battle such a harsh event, also we [Cubans].” Irma has left a total of at least 55 dead, 10 of them in Cuba.

The president of the New York Municipal Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito, told Silvio about the scenario that his “dream of playing in Central Park has come true, and we all here appreciate you being who you are.” It was the dream of many.

Silvio Rodríguez in Summer Stage. Photo: Gabriel Guerra Bianchini.
Silvio Rodríguez in Summer Stage. Photo: Gabriel Guerra Bianchini.

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