Student Trio Heads to Europe for Performance Competition

By 
Darry Madden
March 30, 2012
Los Rumberos de Massachusetts plays on the streets of Boston.
Photo provided by the artist

April is a busy concert season at Berklee. But while most students will play in front of modestly sized crowds in campus recital halls, three of their classmates will perform before millions. The trio, Los Rumberos de Massachusetts, will be part of a television broadcast on April 17 in ten countries, competing for 50,000 Euros at New Wave, an American Idol-like contest held in Riga, Latvia.

Los Rumberos de Massachusetts describes its music as "flamenco rumba with reggae and Latin rock." Only last fall, they were just friends who had been playing together for all of a month when fellow Berklee student Alla Nadtochava went to see them perform on campus. A music business/management major, Nadtochava left floored, certain she wanted to be a part of their project.

"Right away I realized I wanted to work with them. They make such amazing music," she said.

But more than just help them book a few gigs, Nadtochava knew immediately that she wanted to get them on New Wave, a prestigious European music television show that she, a native of Belarus, had grown up watching. And that she did. They heard last week that Los Rumberos de Massachusetts was among the 60 acts chosen from a pool of 12,000 applicants hailing from 36 countries. Nadtochava is acting as the group's manager around the contest: organizing the trip, acting as interpreter, and working to raise funds for their travel.

The three-piece band plays sultry, energetic Latin music that is inflected with reggae and sounds both traditional and fresh. Luis De la Isla and Paul Sefchovich, both from Mexico and Angel Cespedes, from Ohio, create a big sound with just two guitars, a hand drum, and their voices.

"We are so excited that our acoustic experiment—born in the streets of the Back Bay—has become so serious that will it take us to Europe," said De la Isla. Los Rumberos was only formed in September, making its cohesive sound and accomplishments even more impressive.

New Wave is a 10-year old phenomenon, and is broadcast throughout Europe to 100 million viewers. Los Rumberos de Massachusetts will perform three times before 11 judges. Each performance is scored, and the performer with the highest score wins.

But even being a runner-up can be a huge boon, explained Nadtochava. Music executives from around the world are watching, and contracts are often signed by many of the acts—not just the winner. The students will be back at Berklee a few days later, and new fame nothwithstanding, one thing will have stayed the same. They'll still have to study for finals.