Video Pick of the Week: Cuban Guitarist Alí Arango Plays ‘His Escenas Del Des-Equinoccio’

I’m an unabashed fan of Cuban guitarist and composer Alí Arango, so when something new comes in from him I’m always eager to check it out.  This very well-shot and -edited video, filmed mostly in the ruins of the ballet school in Havana’s Instituto Superior de Arte, puts the spotlight on a compelling, very modern-sounding piece. Arango says he composed the work in Córdoba in 2006 when he was part of an inspiring but somewhat chaotic multi-disciplinary project called “Equinoccio” involving numerous other artist-types.


“It is the portrait of that wonderful time… I remember that every hour, all the bells of the old town of Córdoba sounded and there was a very special one that sounded in compas de siete, with a pattern very similar to the syncopated shell of Afro-Cuban music. [Thus] that appears from the beginning of the work and that gives unity to everything. There are also two small fragments of the Prelude of  BWV 1006 [Violin Partita No. 3] by J.S Bach, which I studied so much at that time preparing for competitions. The phone sound was because my brother Erick Arango called me frequently from Sweden to find out how I was doing, [and its sound] was exactly with those notes. Finally, the percussion box that appears in the video was built by me specifically for this piece, and later we have included it in our Pyrophorus Guitar Duo [with Josué Fonseca].”  —Blair Jackson