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Orlando Fiol

cuban music, musica cubana

Born in Brooklyn, NY in 1972, to a Puerto Rican Italian father and a Dominican mother, Orlando Fiol began showing an interest in and talent for music from an early age. From his first experiments imitating his father's salsa records on Dixie cups to imaginary compositions banged out on an old typewriter, music ran like a leitmotif through his life. His father, Henry Fiol, taught him the basics of Latin percussion: conga, bongo, timbal, maraca, clave and guiro, while his mother, Laura Vidal, fostered in him an appreciation for intricacies of international cuisine and foreign languages. First educated in the Lighthouse's Child Development Program, Orlando quickly learned to read and write literary and mathematical Braille. Fiol began studying Western classical piano, music theory and composition at the Lighthouse Music School with such distinguished performers and teachers as George Bennette, Norma Varga, Anthony Felaro and Myrna Votta. While immersing himself in Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms, Debussy and Skriabin, Fiol was also gradually exploring jazz piano on his own, learning Thelonius Monk and Art Tatum solos by ear, memorizing jazz standards and attempting to imitate what he liked of various styles. While in special ed and resource programs in various Queens elementary schools and being an avid radio listener, Fiol developed an interest first in north and south Indian film music and later in principally Hindustani classical music. He met the tabla virtuoso K. Paramjoti at a concert and became his disciple. He studied tabla with Paramjoti and his senior disciple Misha Masud for five years. He also was privileged to take some lessons with Ustaad Allah Rakha and his disciple Ray Spiegal.

At age fourteen, Fiol was accepted into the prestigious LaGuardia high school for the Performing Arts, where he majored in voice, explored the Western art song tradition, sang in choirs, analyzed music scores and learned more theory. All the while, he was gaining invaluable experience playing with various professional and informal jazz, classical and Latin music ensembles. Furthering this education were three summers at the Encore Coda music camp in Maine, where he studied more Classical piano, composed classical music, played in chamber groups and jazz combos. In 1986, Fiol began playing in his father's salsa group, touring North and South America, Europe and the U.S., producing and arranging three albums, playing keyboards and conga, and singing backup coro vocals.

In 1987, LaGuardia high school arranged two performances with Orlando Fiol and Stevie Wonder, where they played a Fender Rhodes duet in front of the student body. In 1989, Fiol received the Itzak Perlman award for Disabled Artists from the Very Special Arts organization, which resulted in his participation in a gala concert at Washington's Kennedy center and numerous New York media appearances. In 1990, Fiol received the Board of Education Award for Excellence and Achievement.

From 1991 to 1996, Fiol attended Columbia University, receiving a Bachelor of Sciences degree in music. There, he studied ethnomusicology, Western music history and analysis, literature and poetry, philosophy, feminism, German, political science, Latin American studies and sociology. Although his interests were far reaching, Fiol focused increasingly on music, rekindling his interest in Indian music, resuming tabla studies, transcribing field recordings and analyzing secular and sacred music from the Middle Ages and Renaissance, as well as twentieth century works.
He also began studying batá and Afro-Cuban and Afro-Haitian conga with John Amira, participating in the ensemble that recorded musical examples for Amira's award winning book on batá rhythms.

In 1996, Fiol traveled to Cuba to be initiated to the consecrated batá drums of Pancho Quinto.
There, he met and played with many luminaries of Cuban music: Changuito, members of Sierra Maestra, Raices Profunda and the Sexteto Habanero. In 1999, Fiol began studying jazz piano with Barry Harris, attending his weekly New York workshops and accompanying Harris on his annual trips to the Hague for master classes. During the 1990's, living in New York, Fiol played in Latin, rock, jazz and experimental bands, set up his own project studio and recorded many independent artists. In 2000, Fiol was awarded a nine month fellowship from the American Institute of Indian Studies to study dhrupad singing, tabla and pakhawaj in Pune with Pt. Uday Bhawalkar, Manik Munde, Sanjay Deshpande, Bharat Jangam and Vasantrau Ghorpadkar. He also studied tabla making with Nisaar and Zaakir Sheik in Pune and received more guidance from Sanjay Deshpande. He currently studies tabla with Pt. Mrinal K. Pal in Edison, New Jersey, and has taken workshops with Pt. Shamir Chatterjee.

Living in Philadelphia for the past five years, Orlando has performed with mainstays of the Philadelphia latin-jazz scene such as Pupy Legarreta, Marlon Simon, Pablo Batista, Bobby Zankel, Areito, Conjunto 23, Leana's Song, and Ellas y Amigos. He has taught the Latin-American ensemble at Temple University, piano, conga and other latin percussion at the AMLA Music School of the Arts, as well as piano and music theory at the Catholic Institute. He has produced studio projects for Univision and appeared on Diego Castellanos's acclaimed Puerto Rican Panorama. He has also completed a large-scale world music fusion project for Philadelphia's Painted Bride Arts Center, combining Dhrupad singing, tabla, jazz, Western classical and AfroCuban musics.

Recently, Orlando Fiol has been exploring his disparate musical interests and forging a career, privately teaching jazz and Latin piano, improvisation and arranging, Latin percussion, liturgical Cuban percussion and tabla. He has a working jazz duo, trio and quartet, a Latin jazz quartet and an Afro-Cuban ensemble. Since 2008, Fiol has been pursuing graduate studies toward a PHD in ethnomusicology at the University of Pennsylvania.

910 south 48th street
Philadelphia, PA 19143
(215) 727-8729
Email: ofiol@verizon.net


Instrumentalist (Keyboards, Latin Percussion, Tabla Drums), Record Producer, Composer, Teacher and pianist


Classical Piano Studies - Lighthouse Music Institute for the Blind: George Bennette and Joseph Fields (1978-1990) Western Classical Composition: Anthony Felaro (1984-1988) B.A. Music - Columbia University (1990-1996) Jazz Piano with Barry Harris: New York
(1999-2000) and Royal National Conservatory in the Hague, Holland - (2000-2002)Bata, Conga and Haitian Ceremonial Drumming - John Amira (1988-1994)

Graduate Studies In Music Theory and
Ethnomusicology toward a P.H.D. from the University of Pennsylvania (2008-2013)


under K. Paramjoti (1983-1984)
under Misha Masud (1984-1994)
under the late Ud. Ala Rakha Khan (1993) under the late Ud. Mulazim Hussain (1998-1999) Under Ud. Abdul Sattar Tari Khan (1999-2000) under Pt. Bharat Jangam and Sanjay
Deshpande: Pune, Maharashtra, India (2000-2001) under Dr. Mrinal K. Pal: Edison, NJ (2001 to present) Pakhawaj Drumming under Pt. Manik Munde and Pt.
Vasantrao Ghorpadkar: Pune, Maharashtra, India (2000-2001) Dhrupad Vocal Under Pt. Uday Bhawalkar: Pune, Maharashtra, India (2000-2001)


New York Board Of Education Award For Academic Excellence (1986) Itzhak Perlman Award For Young Disabled Musicians- Very Special Arts- (1989) Clugy Scholarship Prize (1991) Research Grant From the American Institute Of Indian Studies (2000) Disabled Artists Performance Sponsorship at Philadelphia's Painted Bride Arts Center (2003) Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Master and Apprenticeships in Traditional Arts (2006)


Keyboards while a student at LaGuardia High School with Stevie Wonder, Winton Marsalas and Melissa Manchester (1986-1987)

International Touring with Henry Fiol's Orquesta
Corazón: Keyboards, Vocals and Latin Percussion (1986 to present) Arranged, co-produced and recorded 4 Albums (keyboard, percussion and vocals):
RENACIMIENTO: (New York, 1989)
CREATIVO: New York (1992)
EL DON DEL SON: Medellin, Colombia (1994)
GUAPERÍA: New Jersey (2002)

Ceremonial and Concert Performances with John Amira (1993 - 96) Recorded 1 Album (percussion - batá)

Sacred and Secular Batá, and conga with various New York folkloric ensembles: New York City and surrounding areas (1994-2000)

Initiation to Consecrated Batá Drums from Pancho Quinto in Cuba (1996)

Batá, and Conga with Two Cuban Folkloric Ensembles, Raizes Profundas, and La Siete Potencias: Havana, Cuba (1996) Keyboards with Cartoon Mary: New York (1997-1998) Keyboards with Grateful Dead Tribute Band Border Legion: New Jersey (2000) Piano and Conga with Barry Harris: New York, NY (1999-2001) The Hague, Holland (2000-2002) Vocal and Tabla Accompaniment for Pt. Uday Bhawalkar and Pt. Manik Munde: PHiladelphia, PA (2002) Large Scale Indian Jazz and Cuban Performance at the Painted Bride Arts Center: Philadelphia, PA (May, 2003) Opening With Charanga Ensemble For El Gran Combo De Puerto Rico (2004) Conga and Piano with Puerto Rico's Truco Y Zaperoco: Philadelphia, PA (2004) Piano and Keyboards with Cuban Violinist Pupy
Legarreta: Philadelphia, PA (2004 to present) Keyboards, Vocals, Production and Arrangements with Idelfonzo Rodriguez and Charanga La Única:
Philadelphia, PA (2004 to present)
Music, lyrics, arrangement, congas, percussion, keyboards and vocals for Univision Commercial with Idelfonzo Rodriguez and Charanga La Única: (Philadelphia, PA 2007) Congas, Vocals, Arrangements and Production with Conjunto 23: Philadelphia, PA (2000 to present) Currently recording and performing (keyboards and Afro-Cuban percussion) with various new and established groups in Philadelphia, New Jersey and NEw York City


Piano and Latin Percussion at Asociación de Músicos Latino Americanos (AMLA) (2000-2004) Latin-American Ensemble, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA (Spring, 2003) Classical Piano and Music Theory at the Catholic Institute, Philadelphia, PA (2003-2004) ONGOING PRIVATE INSTRUCTION:

Piano: jazz, Blues, Boogie-Woogie, latin, classical
Abstract: jazz improvisation, composition, and arranging, classical music theory

Latin Percussion: conga, bongó, timbales, batá, cajón maracas and guiro
Abstract: applications of Afro-Cuban rhythms and concepts to drum set

Indian Classical: tabla, pakhawaj, dhrupad vocal
Abstract: application of north Indian classical music to Western instruments and genres.

Kevin Moore - Tuesday, 22 March 2011, 07:31 PM