City's 1st Bomba and Plena Orchestra debuts on ABC7

March 28, 2011 10:13:59 AM PDT
Some of Chicago's most reputable Latino musicians make up the city's first Bomba and Pena Orchestra.

In celebration of its 40 years of service and culture to Chicago, The Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center (SRBCC) created the Bomba & Plena Orchestra, which will make its debut at the Old Town School of Music on Wednesday, March 30. But they gave us a sneak peak on ABC7 first!

Event Info:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 8 PM
SRBCC Bomba and Plena Orchestra
Old Town School of Folk
4544 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, Il

Organization History and Background.
The Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center (SRBCC) is the longest-standing Puerto Rican cultural center in Chicago. Established in 1971, it was named in honor of Segundo Ruiz Belvis, a Puerto Rican patriot and member of the secret abolitionist society in Puerto Rico that bought and freed slave children. The society contributed greatly to the end of slavery in Puerto Rico in 1873. In that spirit, the Center's mission is to present and promote appreciation of the arts and culture of Puerto Rico, specifically its African heritage. SRBCC provides arts education services to schools and community centers in our community. SRBCC realizes its programs by developing multi-disciplinary curriculums highlighting the presence of African cultures in Latin America. The organization utilizes dance, music, arts & crafts, singing and other artistic mediums to celebrate Afro-Latino traditions. Bomba & Plena Orchestra
The debut of Chicago's first Bomba and Plena Orchestra. Ruiz Belvis has recruited some of Chicago's top musicians to be part of this special project. This new Orchestra will give tribute to Rafael Cortijo, Ismael Rivera and all others who were essential in the rebirth of this music during 1950's. In addition, the orchestra will present new material, combining the music of Cortijo with more modern blends. The results, a unique musical experience Bomba
Bomba is a uniquely Puerto Rican musical genre for dance. Although critics are uncertain about the exact origin of the Bomba, it is generally agreed that it is derived from West Africa, through the importation of slaves to Puerto Rico from that region. It emerged as a very important form of expression within the system of slavery and a source of spiritual strength. When Bomba music is played, the traditional mask is worn. The mask, called "vejigante" in Spanish, was supposed to scare away evil spirits and protect. Plena
The origins of the musical form known as Plena can be traced back to the early 1900's. It originated on Puerto Rico's southern coast.The main percussion instruments used in plena are three pleneras, (single-headed hand held frame drums). The names of the pleneras from high to low are requinto, segundo (also known as "Banao" in the area of Santurce) and seguidor. In the plena ensemble, the seguidor, and segundo establish the basic plena rhythm, while the requinto improvises, creating rhythmic interaction with the call and response vocals and the melodic instruments.

(RELEASE) Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center Celebrates
40 Years of Services and Culture

SRBCC, an Icon in Promoting and Preserving the African Influence in Puerto Rico for Four Decades

Chicago, IL-- The Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center (SRBCC) is proud to celebrate its 40 years of history and an invaluable contribution to the preservation of the Puerto Rican culture and its African heritage in the city of Chicago. SRBCC is the longest standing Puerto Rican cultural center in Chicago and has provided a wide range of services to the community, including cultural education emphasizing the bomba and plena rhythms, the history of the Puerto Rican African roots, arts education in public schools and GED classes among other programs.

Part of the 40 year celebration includes a concert commemorating the Abolition of Slavery and the end of that era in Puerto Rico. The SRBCC will have the first ever Chicago Bomba and Plena Orchestra performing at the Old Town School of Folk, 4544 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, Il, Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 8:00 PM. Bomba and plena rhythms are African-influenced musical traditions that are part of the island's folklore. "The public is in for a treat and will witness what this organization is providing for our children and the youth through the arts," said the SRBCC Executive Director, Arnaldo Cruz. "We are bringing together some of Chicago's best musicians to perform a wide range of plena and bomba songs and arrangements by Latino music icons, such as Rafael Cortijo, Ismael Rivera and Conjunto Libre."

The SRBCC serves the communities by developing educational programs in the Puerto Rican and African-influenced arts that offer families opportunities in leadership, cultural awareness and creative expression. These initiatives also serve as an inspiration for other Latin-American countries in their interest for preserving and sharing the similarities of their history and culture.

For more information about the fundraiser and concert, visit