Berklee Signature Series Celebrates Cuban Troubador Pablo Milanés

The concert will feature musicians Miguel Núñez and Pavel Núñez performing with a Berklee ensemble.

October 12, 2023

Berklee will honor Cuban vocalist, guitarist, and composer Pablo Milanés with the fall Signature Series concert Pablo Milanés Legacy on Thursday, November 9, at 8:00 p.m. at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston.

Known as “Pablito” to his legion of fans in Latin America, Milanés is renowned as a founding member of Nueva Trova, a musical movement that emerged in the late 1960s that combined traditional folk music with political lyrics. Milanés's talents were evident at a young age, where he often competed in, and won, local TV, and radio contests. At the age of 6, he won a competition singing a Mexican tune for a local radio station in his hometown of Bayamo, Cuba. 

In the 1950s, Milanés’s family moved to Havana, where he studied for a time at the Havana Musical Conservatory, but he found his musical inspiration from neighborhood musicians rather than through any formal training. During his five-decade-plus career, the two-time Latin Grammy Award winner recorded more than 40 albums and was revered for his contributions to both music and social justice movements in the pivotal years following the Cuban revolution.

“A true songwriter with strong beliefs that was able to portray through his music the love for his country,” says Oscar Stagnaro, a professor in the Bass Department and the executive director of Berklee Latino. “Back in the early ’80s, I played with Berklee faculty Mili Bermejo's band; she was the one that introduced me to Pablo. 'Amo Esta Isla' was part of her repertoire, and for that time it was an innovation because it was written in odd meters, unusual for Latin music of that period.”

Milanés’s pianist and longtime musical director, Miguel Núñez, and Dominican singer and songwriter Pavel Núñez will collaborate with a Berklee ensemble to perform Milanés's compositions, including one of his most famous love songs, "Yolanda," written in 1970, and "De Qué Callada Manera” (“In What a Quiet Way”), as rearranged by student composers. 

Miguel Núñez, who began working with Milanés as a keyboardist during his final year of college, arranged for and toured with the Cuban musician in more than 30 countries and produced a number of his albums. Of his years collaborating with Milanés, Miguel says, “What reminds me the most of Pablo is his generosity, his impetus to maintain the traditional forms of Cuban music, and how his songs influenced the transition between some musical genres.”

Inspired by his mentor and collaborator, Miguel is known for his unique blend of classical and contemporary styles, and his ability to infuse his music with the rhythms and melodies of Cuba and Latin America. In addition to his career as a performer, Núñez has also dedicated himself to teaching the next generation of musicians by giving master classes to students in Cuba, Europe, and the United States.

Pavel Núñez is considered one of the most important artists from the Dominican Republic. A four-time Latin Grammy Award nominee and an Emmy Award winner, he has worked with a renowned list of musicians from around the world, including Juan Luis Guerra ’82, ’09H, Alejandro Sanz ’13H, Sting ’94H, Gilberto Santa Rosa, and others. 

The concert is directed by Oscar StagnaroMatthew Nicholl, and Lee Abe.

Admission is $15/$20 in advance and $20/$25 on the day of the show. This show will be seated. Tickets are available online.

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