Puerto Rico, an island gem in the Caribbean, was one of the first to be colonized by the Spanish and one of the stops along the slavery train of the 16th-19th centuries. This unfortunate history has yielded a blended culture that includes diverse races and at least two languages spoken on the island, Spanish and English. Puerto Rico’s uncomfortable position as a demi-state of the USA has not stopped a generation of impressive artists and creatives who use their straddle-position between two places to enhance their work. Las boricuas, whose name alludes to the aboriginal name for the island, Borinquén, are especially interested in preserving the color and sound of their homeland, even as their creations travel the world. For those of us not able to chase them down in person, we can follow their work through their fascinating IG accounts.
Johanny Ivelisse, a musician, and composer is dedicated to the sounds of her native Puerto Rico. She has written and performed music on the island and around the world and is also a dedicated educator of young musicians. She brought her latest piece, an opera entitled Frenesí, to Miami and now the piece will be performed at Italy’s Puccini Festival in Italy, which shows how far she has come.