Cuban American composer, producer, professor and UCLA Ph.D. candidate Yalil Guerra has received a Latin GRAMMY® nomination for Best Classical Album for his newest record Cuba: The Legacy, a tribute to the country where he was born. This is Guerra’s eighth Latin GRAMMY® nomination, winning in 2012 for Best Classical Contemporary Composition for his work “Seducción.”
Cuba: The Legacy includes two works: “Intrata” by Guerra’s mentor, Cuban American composer and CSUN Emeritus Professor Aurelio de la Vega, and Guerra’s Symphony No. 1 “La Palma Real” (“The Royal Palm”), both of which were performed and recorded in Havana, Cuba at the National Theatre of Cuba with the Cuban National Symphony.
Guerra’s Symphony No. 1 was conceived during his first year at UCLA. “I started this project in an orchestration class with Professor Richard Danielpour,” said Guerra. “I had the opportunity to work this piece with all of the professors of the composition department: Ian Krouse, David Lefkowitz, Kay Rhie, and Richard Danielpour. Every professor brings something that is a combination of knowledge and personal experiences. This diversity of ideas is what enriches your own path. I will use all these experiences and knowledge that they are providing me to try to incorporate and modify it into my own voice. After hearing the composition with the sound of the wonderful musicians here, I got very confident about the future of the piece and I thought that it would be a great idea to make this exercise the first movement of a major work.”
Guerra’s symphony describes the last moments of the life of Cuban national poet José Martí, who died in combat in 1895 fighting against Spanish troops in Cuba. “José Martí is an important part of Cuba’s History,” said Guerra. “He was the mastermind politician in the war against Spain; to free Cuba from Spanish colonization. This is the first time that a symphony dedicated to Martí has been created by a Cuban composer; something important for the symphonic literature of Cuban music.”
The 20th Latin Grammy Awards will take place on Thursday, Nov. 14, at the MGM Grand Las Vegas hotel.