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SpanishEnglishColibri - Interview with Marta Bonet

(This is a translation of the original Spanish-language interview of Marta Bonet by Yelanys Hernández Fusté. The original article, which includes photographs, is in the Spanish-language version of this section.  TIMBA.com thanks Colibrí and Cubadisco 2013 for the use of the article.)

Excellence as a Precept

Interview of Marta Bonet, Director of the record company with the most awards in Cubadisco 2013
by Yelanys Hernández Fusté

     Marta Bonet, Director of Colibri (Photo by Roberto Ruíz)

Marta Bonet speaks volubly of the role of the record companies  today.   Her words manifest the importance of recording  the authentic (music)  as an historical record of the art of the nation.   She explained that her team examines the music itself,  although commercial terms are also important. 

The distinguished musicologist takes in her hands one of the volumes of the exquisite album La canción cubana by Miriam Ramos, winner of the Grand Prize in Cubadisco 2013,  and asked if there had been a deep study to select the theme of this trilogy by Producciones Colibrí. 

Bonet says that in order to choose the compositions, they took into accout each decade of music on the Island.   “The research and selection of the repertoire performed by Miriam was essential as well as the consideration of the instrumentalists who took part: the laudista* Barbarito Torres and the pianists Ernán López-Nussa and Rolando Luna.”  

More than 20 Colibrí submissions  received nominations in the phonographic  contest, and the label ultimately obtained the largest number of the laurels in the competition.    In the dialogue with Marta Bonet, one cannot escape that observation as well as an interest in what the secret is to achieving so many awards.  

"We are a team that works as one big family. With love, maturity, conviction and compassion and respect for music and Cuban musicians. That's our premise," declares Marta.

“The emergence of Colibrí Productions responds to the need to create space for phonograms which for financial or conceptual reasons are not assumed by the record companies already existing in the country, whose approach addresses market sales as priority, generating zones of silence which should be taken on as a social and patrimonial necessity. 

From this perspective, we present the precept of excellence, signifying its importance not only for music creation and the cultural life of the country, but also taking on new creative forms and dynamics related to the process of production, communication and distribution of these cultural assets , which belong to the system of economic decision-making in the company,  and it is also our responsibility to assume the commercial realization of these {projects} to complete the cycle that ends with consumption."

"As a market, the music business does not balance in all cases the quality of music with commercial success. Moving in a high-quality, specialized context has high risks in contemporary society, whose dynamics impose a tendency towards the facile  and prompt in cultural consumption, an issue which drives away  high demands for products like these. That is, we have few customers, but our product is of high quality and impact. This is another of our challenges.

In this endeavor we should highlight the essential partnerships with all institutions of the music and of course, the unconditional support in all aspects of the Cuban Institute of Music, of which we are part,and which allows us to strategize appropriately in fulfilling the cultural policy of the Revolution."

"I could tell you that our team continues to dream and perfect its walk daily. If there is a secret to all this recognition, it  would be the quality of our music itself and the level of interpretation of the artists who defend it in each of the phonographic productions."

Colibrís catalogue  has an impressive variety of genres.  On what bases do you select discs to record?  What qualifications do you require of their authors?  Is there a margin for talent search? 

"Cuban music is broad and diverse in genres and styles. We owe a huge debt to the creators, that every day is multiplied because there is a lot of talent. Colibrí Productions moves in the context of all the genres and expressions of the excellence of our sound. The specialization that has been achieved by our small team has allowed us to redesign strategies in the production of albums of high technical and artistic quality regardless of genres, styles, performers and composers.  Hence, the results achieved. 

An important feature of Colibrí is the existence of the Roldán label, in which, year after year, many of the most important works of national and Latin American classical music are being registered.  Roldán is the only label in the country – and one of the few in the world – that is devoted entirely to the defense and dissemination of this type of work.

As a contemporary trend, many of our recording projects include the production of audiovisual media in which are inserted concerts, documentaries and multimedia with specialized conferences and digitized scores  designed for the national arts educational system."

"Moreover, we have directed our attention to the development of young talent in all of its manifestations and song writing, to historical African and Hispanic folk music;  to music dedicated to the children, both classical and popular, and to new trends in electronic and electroacoustic music.

We have also begun production of documentaries dedicated to the life and work of important figures of Cuban music, such as the masters Leo Brouwer and Chucho Valdes, Omara Portuondo and Maestra Digna Guerra, (the latter has been completed and  was the winner of four awards at the recent ICAIC Exhibition of Young Filmmakers."

This year, you celebrate a decade of work.  How can we summarize this phase? 

"It has been ten years of intense and continuous work to form a catalogue which currently amounts to 412 productions, or which 240 are published,  and the rest are in the process of production.  We have been worthy of several awards in special industry events, most notably Cubadisco, in which we have obtained 260 nominations, 75 awards, eight Special Prizes and five Grand Prizes.

 We have also been prize-winners in the ALBA Label Awards, the ECHO Classical Music Awards in Germany and  the Latin GRAMMY awards. But I repeat: none of this would have been possible without the love and the passion with which our collective works  and the unconditional support and wise nutrients  provided by artists, creators and institutions.

Ten years after our creation, reflection inevitably arrives. The successes have been recognized, and it is in the mistakes that we must stop and think, to improve ourselves and face the new challenges which are coming and which are growing all the time. A decade is a short time,  and we still have far to go."

The year 2014 assumes a challenge for you as a label. What are you preparing in the studios, and what can be interesting for the audience?

"The future is always a challenge, we have already spoken of that,  but we continue investigating, creating, listening to proposals.   In the recording studios, there  are now several major projects,  to list a few: the Magia negra volumes by Omara Portuondo; a tribute to Maria Teresa Vera played by Pancho Amat and Daniel by the Cabildo del Son;  the new album by Alejandro Falcon, a young jazzman who has just been awarded  {a Cubadisco award} in the category of Opera Prima, the collection Por los campos de Cuba, from research that is being conducted by the CIDMUC and  the Ibero-American Center for the Décima  and Improvised Verse (Cidvi) that collects all manifestations of campesino music in the Island, the complete works for guitar of maestro Harold Gramatges, and the Popularmente Sinfónico collection, which continues with the orchestras of Holguín, Camagűey and the University of the Arts.

We will also have in recording studios  the octogenarian pianists Alicia Perea, Rosario Franco and Huberal Herrera, and a tribute to Cuban percussion by young and established performers. This comes on top of  the trilogy Te doy una canción,  composed of 36 songs by Silvio Rodriguez performed by Augusto Enrique, with new concepts for orchestration and arrangements, and the CD Oh Yes!!!  with a selection of spirituals by  Coro Entrevoces, among other proposals that are in the final artwork process  to be sent to the factory."

* --the laúd is a string instrument  in the cittern family, its name comes from the Spanish word for lute. --ed.

Thursday, 04 July 2013, 05:57 AM