BENNY ALMOST ONE HUNDRED
The Benny Moré Cuban Popular Music Festival 2017 is already history and a bunch of anecdotes. For Cienfuegos, the venue of the event, it has served as a test for the international character that is envisaged for the one to be held in 2019, the year in which the Bárbaro del Ritmo reaches its centenary and other important dates round off the importance that event will have: the 200 years of the Pearl of the South (The City of Cienfuegos,) the eighty birthday of the Aragón orchestra - whose director, Rafaelito Lay, has been named honorary president of the Festival- and, why not, the half-century of the foundation of San Cristóbal de la Habana, the city where Maximiliano Moré Gutiérrez developed most of his artistic career. Arte por Excelencias
set out in search of two personalities of Cienfuegos culture very linked to the Festival: Miguel Cañeillas, its current president, and Rolando Martínez (Roly), its artistic director. We talked with both about the importance of saving Benny for young people, for children, for generations to come. The Bárbaro del Ritmo would not forgive us for leaving him out of the "joy" of the future, the one that roots us to the land that he defended so well with his music. Miguel Cañiellas: “2019 must be a big event, well thought out, which many sponsors will join to make it grow outside of Cienfuegos and outside of Cuba as well. It will be a Festival of Arts, which will merge music, theater, dance... you have to figuratively take the Bárbaro del Ritmo out of Lajas cemetery and put it at the center of the cultural life of the province and the whole country, so that there is a true, genuine and consciousness-raised people's interest in identifying themselves with him. Rolando Martínez: we propose that young people see not only that character of the fifties, but also that Benny who shares with them on a day-to-day basis the new ways of making music from his imprint. We have to work much more on this, to make the authorities understand the importance of the figure of Benny for our future. He is not a personality just for festivals. If we do not keep him alive in his town, there will come a time when future generations will forget him or, at best, they will consider him just a curious reference.