The Estudiantina Ensemble comes all the way from Cuba and bring the country’s traditional Estudiantina music to Kota Kinabalu for the first time. This genre of music – otherwise known as music by student groups – originates from 1927 and is all about feisty and powerful melody.
At the base is the Danzón-clave, in the 8-piece band with a special instrument “Pailitas” also known as the Baroque Timpani, two small kettle drums of French baroque that had come through from Haiti. These are the forerunners of the famous contemporary Timbales that are used in many Salsa bands. Where the Salsa and modern Timba is being played fast and forward, this Danzón / Son-tradition is more laid-back, rather behind the beat than played in front of the beat. Thus it is truly the Roots of Traditional Cuban music, with Guaracha’s, Boleros, Danzones and Boleros-son.
The Estudiantina Ensemble was founded by Ricardo Bekema, with the objective of maintaining the authentic Cuban Traditional Danzón and Son styles from Oriente de Cuba. After years of studies in Santiago de Cuba and the surrounding area with teachers like Gabino Jardines Cisneros, Eva de la Caridad Griñan, Inaudis Paisán Mallet, Roberto Nápoles Castillo, Rey Cabrera Castellano and Arístides Torres, Ricardo by now has become a connoisseur of the Trova music.
In 2007, the ensemble received an official invitation from the Cuban Ministry of Culture, “Centro de la Musica Provincial” and a personal signed invitation from none other than “Eliades Ochoa Bustamante” (Buena Vista Social Club), to come and play at the 45th edition of the prestigious “International Festival de la Trova”, “Pepe Sánchez”. And so it was that the Estudiantina Ensemble was playing at the legendary stages of the Casa de la Trova, the Plaza de Marti and the Casa de la Musica, in front of the cameras of the National Cuban state television and a wildly enthusiastic Cuban crowd…
“In the long life (12 years) of my project there have been of course considerable developments and changes. The Estudiantina Ensemble now has received international fame and gives lectures, workshops and concerts in theatres and festivals around the globe. For the current occupation I have been fortunate to engage some great artists, very experienced musicians, who diligently contribute to the preservation of this wonderful music. Muchisimas gracias maestro’s… Para la Casa de la Trova… El final no llegara…!!”
Ricardo “Arístides” Bekema – director, guitar, lead vocals
Eric “Derecho de Nacer” Wijngaarde – percusion menor, lead vocals
Carlos “Calucho” Eduardo Filomeno Francinet – percusion menor, lead vocals
Alexander Rodriguez Cala – trumpet
Wilmer Gerardo Rios Garcia – baroque timpani (pailas criollas)
Leo “Pantaléon” Martis – tres (segundo)
Randy Winterdal – double bass
Anurakt Scheepers – tres (primero)