Here in Miami, it’s clear that Yolanda Ossa-Eslait is in charge. But, without her brothers’ connections, the 2010 Carnaval de Barranquilla en Miami wouldn’t have had an 18-piece Berklee orchestra performing as the centerpiece of a multi-day, city-wide event. (Learn more about the trip.)
Brothers Marino, Berklee class of 2009, and Juan, a current student, wanted to show the people in Miami that Latin music is just as hot 1,500 miles north, and arranged a trip south for a group led by professor Bernando Hernandez. Working together as the O/E Arts and Culture Foundation, the Ossa-Eslait family produced their first carnaval in 2007. Expecting it to be little more than a block party, they were blown away when six thousand people showed up to dance and party to folkloric Colombian music. The Carnaval de Barranquilla is held on the last weekend in February, trailing the carnaval in the northern Colombian city of Barranquilla by a week. Yolanda says that event is the second-largest carnaval behind Rio De Janeiro’s.
In Miami, the event includes concerts, a parade, and an outdoor festival. Every year, more and more Colombians are anticipating and attending the Miami event to mix with their people and hear the music from back home. The O/E Arts and Culture Foundation brought the Berklee group to headline a tribute concert to Colombia’s influential tropical singer Joe Arroyo at the at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts on February 25.
Here, Yolanda, Marino (to her right), and Juan (on her left) talk about the carnaval’s history, the Berklee connection, and Arroyo.