the depths of passion and scaling the heights of joy, vocalist Irene
Farrera and her virtuoso ensemble, Venezuela Viva, travel the sumptuous
landscape of Venezuelan music. The journey is rich with nature, culture
and tradition, yet
bursts with ingenuity and creativity. The artist¹s velvet voice and impassioned
interpretations breathe new life into the music of her homeland.
Serenata traverses the territory¹s diverse regional styles, weaving in
four original Farrera songs along the way. The highly syncopated, flamenco-influenced
joropos, driving fulia and gaita rhythms of the coastal regions, and unique
native instrumentation create a spellbinding and sublime musical experience.
The recording features the diminutive and deep bodied 4-stringed cuatro, an
extraordinary array of drums, maracas, violin, acoustic guitars and bass.
"I wanted to pay homage to our composers, the beloved Simón Diaz
and the lesser known such as Maria Luisa Escobar" says Farrera. The opening
cut is a strong, jubilant rendition of the traditional golpe, "La Bella
Del Tamunangue" (The Beauty of the Tamunangue). Escobar¹s "Desesperanza" (Despair)
is a poignant, heart wrenching song of heartbreak. In the title cut, "Serenata," Irene
transforms a danzón into a steamy bolero, a tribute to Venezuela's living
tradition of a lover's serenade as the most romantic expression of amor. One
of Irene's most powerful original compositions, "El Mismo Mar," is
restyled to the irresistible beat of a tambor de patanemo, one of the many
Afro-influenced drum styles of Venezuela, culminating in a riveting solo by
master percussionist Alexander Livinalli.
Music was Farrera's first language. Her earliest memories of growing up in
Caracas are full of song and dancing feet. "Music is part of every celebration
and social occasion," she says. By the time she was six Irene could sing
dozens of aguinaldos (holiday songs) and at the age of nine had her first and
only lesson on the cuatro.
Truth-seeker, creative soul, cultural fugitive and romantic rebel, Farrera
fled Caracas in search of solace and fertile ground in the Pacific Northwest.
She branched out musically–her first three albums venture into Brazilian,
Latin Jazz and Nueva Canción. Contemplating new directions for a fourth
CD, Farrera felt her strong Venezuelan roots pulling her homeward.
She found herself digging below the surface of a landscape littered with Burger
King, Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys, to uncover her country¹s hidden
treasures. A fateful meeting with master musician, arranger, composer and soul
brother, Aquiles Báez in a friend's Boston kitchen made everything click. "Aquiles
lives with one foot in Venezuela and one foot in the US. We were instantly
committed to working with the best, and we did."
They called Alexander Livinalli, a percussion scholar who knows every town
and its unique rhythms; Ernesto Laya and David Peña, two members of
Ensamble Gurrufio, foremost interpreters of Venezuelan instrumental music and
other leading artists to complete theVenezuela Viva ensemble. Farrera marvels, "After
twenty years I came back to play my music in front of a Venezuelan audience,
my mother and my sisters, surrounded by outstanding, sensitive players. I felt
complete as a woman, as a musician and as a venezolana."