Cajón Virtuoso Israel “Piraña” Suárez to Receive Master of Mediterranean Music Award

By 
Susan Scotti
March 1, 2018
Press release
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Israel "Piraña" Suárez
Image courtesy of the artist

Berklee’s Mediterranean Music Institute (MMI) will honor Israel “Piraña" Suárez, the acknowledged master of the cajón and flamenco percussion, with the Master of Mediterranean Music Award at its annual spring concert on March 26 at the Berklee Peformance Center.

Piraña is considered one of the greatest cajón players of all time and is an essential reference for percussionists around the world. He has played with artists such as Lenny Kravitz, Ricky Martin, Chick Corea, Paquito D’Rivera, and Wynton Marsalis, to name a few, and was a member of the great flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucía’s band for more than 10 years.

One of the main contributors and lead actors in the evolution of the cajón, Piraña has adapted the instrument to genres outside of flamenco, raised its musical standard, and further developed cajón technique. For these reasons, MMI Executive Director Matthew Nicholl and Artistic Director Javier Limón will honor Piraña with the Master of Mediterranean Music Award.

The MMI’s spring concert, this year called the Rhythm of Lorca, presents an evening of music that will take the audience from the poetry of Federico García Lorca to the rhythms of the cajón. As a continuation of the Berklee Meets Lorca project, a tribute to one of the most important poets of the 20th century, songwriting students will perform a selection of their own compositions set to Lorca’s poetry, and will be joined by Piraña. Students will also perform a Spanish/South American repertoire featuring the cajón.

The Rhythm of Lorca with Guest Artist El Piraña will take place at the Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, on Monday, March 26, at 8:00 p.m. Admission is $8 in advance/$12 day of show. Tickets can be purchased at berklee.edu/BPC or at the Berklee Performance Center Box Office.

Berklee’s Mediterranean Music Institute (MMI) created the Master of Mediterranean Music Award to honor the great maestros of Mediterranean music. Musical figures who are granted the award exemplify the practices and values of the MMI, which stimulates cultural exchange of the folk-based music traditions of the various regions of the Mediterranean, internationally promotes these traditions, and supports young and emerging talent from the area. Past recipients of the award include flamenco singer José Mercé, flamenco guitarist Pepe Habichuela, harmonica player Antonio Serrano, singer and composer Pepe de Lucía, Kurdish singer Aynur, and fado star Mariza.