Latin America's rich heritage wouldn't be what it is without the sounds of its homeland.
As important as historic locations and tales of the old country are, music has been significant to the cultural identity.
Thus, as a close to the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Union City's Park Performing Arts Center will be hosting a tour of music through native sounds of Latin America. The show is today (Sunday, Oct. 30) at 3 p.m.
Salsa to tango
The celebration was put together by Union City resident and entrepreneur Carlos Varela.
"I just love music so much, and I play guitar myself," said Varela. "I love the folkloric sounds of many different countries like Peru, Chile, Paraguay, and many others."
Hudson County has been described as a melting pot of different cultures, and the municipalities of Union City and West New York are home to many immigrants from various Latin America countries from Chile to Cuba.
"The community here is so diverse, and there is no way for them to express the beauty of their culture," said Varela. "This is a chance for people to show a little bit of their culture through their music."
Varela hopes to give a little history from where each musical nuance originates.
Argentina has been said to be the home of the tango, while Colombia claims the creation of cumbia, and Puerto Rico and Cuba boast variations of salsa styles.
"Some people don't know that the marinera comes from Peru, for example," said Varela. "The idea is to get these different styles all in one place, and introduce them to the rest of the community."
Varela, who is from Mendosa, Argentina, "the land of sun and good wine," has an extensive collection of various Latino styles of music from all over the world, from contemporary to mainstream.
"We are going to have the tango and folkloric music of Argentina, as well as native Peruvian Inca Dance performers," said Varela.
"I had the idea a while back, and then this year I just took the liberty of renting the space at the Park Performing Arts Center," said Varela. "I am doing this because I love music, and that is the primary objective."
During the month of October, Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated nationwide, and in the surrounding municipalities of north Hudson, home to various Latino immigrants, special events are held throughout the month including the Hispanic Day Parade at the beginning of the month. Varela's celebration of music will close out a month of celebration.
"It was ideal because during October we celebrate Hispanic heritage, and I hope this will be the first of annual performances," said Varela.
Displaying their talents for the event will be national and internationally acclaimed professional dance and performance companies from around the world, some of which already participated in the Hispanic Day Parade earlier this month.
"We have everything from a Peruvian dance group to Mexican mariachis," said Varela.
The show will also feature performances by Puerto Rican performer Claudia Del Rey with a live band, and Venezuelan performer Tito Castro, who performed with musical legends like Placido Domingo. Also bringing a touch of Central America to the celebration, groups will perform traditional flamencos accompanied by guitar. Flamenco, which traces back its origins to the mother country of Spain, has continued to be one of the most popularized styles of dance in the Hispanic culture.
"We are grateful to be here in this country of opportunity, and I believe this show will express that we too have a story here in this country," said Varela.
Varela himself has taken up most of the cost for this event, but is organizing sponsors and funds as of now for next year's event. Many of the performers have already expressed interest in participating once again as well. "I have had help from some friends, but a lot of it paid with my own money," said Varela. "My wife and my kids thought I was a little crazy at first, but everyone who becomes involved with the project understands it as an opportunity for people to learn about music and history of the various cultures that exist in this country. I hope this experience will only unite us more day after day."
Anyone interested the show begins at 3 p.m. at the Park PAC, 32nd Street and Kennedy Boulevard, Union City. Tickets will be available at the door at $25 per person and $10 for kids. Advanced tickets will be $20.
For more information, call (201) 330-1380 or (201) 951-6127. Jessica Rosero can be reached at email@example.com.