Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

To celebrate the culmination of Hispanic Heritage Month, KO’s first all-school Goodman Banks Visiting Artist Series assembly featured Florida-based Core Ensemble’s chamber music theater work "Tres Vidas." It was a memorable production based on the lives of three legendary Latin American women: Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, Salvadoran peasant activist Rufina Amaya, and Argentinean poet Alfonsina Storni. Core Ensemble comprises a singing actress portraying the three women and an instrumental trio of a cello, piano, and percussion. They performed a variety of musical styles - tango, folk, and pop - as they wove the story of these three vital women. They performed music that was written for them and musical arrangements of classical-oriented styles.

The first scene featured Freda Kahlo (1907-1954), considered one of the most important visual artists of the 20th century. “She was in the vanguard of style,” the percussionist said. ”With her forceful determination and the power of her personality, she overcame a great deal. She had polio when she was a child and when she was 18, she was in a terrible bus accident that broke her back. She was in bed for two years, and that is when she began to paint”. The actress/singer sang two pieces in Spanish, one being her favorite folk song, “Malaguena,” and she spoke of her immediate personal style in her famous painting “The Two Fridas,” as well as her and her turbulent relationship with fellow Mexican painter and muralist Diego Rivera.

The second act tells the story of Rufina Amaya. (1943-2007). The political struggle within El Salvador between the communists and the American-backed pro-democracy government caught Amaya’s village in the cross-hairs. In 1981, a government battalion descended upon Amaya’s village, killing 800 people, including Amaya’s husband and children. Traumatized, Amaya survived by hiding in a tree and the local forest for weeks. When she emerged and shared her story, no one believed her truth. Not until the U.N.'s Truth Commission and fearless journalism conducted was her report confirmed. In the piece performed for KO, the students meet a disoriented Amaya after the carnage in her village. Core Ensemble performed several musical pieces accompanying this vignette and finished with Osvaldo Golijov’s stirring music, “Salvador.”

In the last act, Core Ensemble introduced the students to the remarkable Alfonsina Storni (1892-1938), a multi-talented poet, reporter, playwright, and political activist who fought for women’s right to vote and own property.  Toward the end of her life, riddled with cancer, Storni took her own life by walking into the sea. Core Ensemble performed the mournful “Alfonsina y El Mar” about her death. Following that piece, the audience traveled to the cafes of Storni’s Buenas Aries and heard a great tango by composer Carlos Gardel, considered the most famous popular tango singer of all time. 

Following the performance, the students in AP Spanish met with the musicians and spoke to them about their work. Core Ensemble’s “Tres Vidas” displayed the richness and variety of Latin American culture and gave the students a deeper appreciation of our country’s closest neighbors.
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Located in West Hartford, CT just steps from Blue Back Square, Kingswood Oxford is a private school inspiring co-ed day students in grades 6-12 with a college preparatory curriculum. Empowered students become clear confident communicators, resourceful problem-solvers, and ethical leaders. KO: where unlimited potential meets endless opportunities.
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