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Paquito D'Rivera

Paquito D'Rivera

Paquito D'Rivera

Paquito D'Rivera, born on the island of Cuba, Paquito D'Rivera began his career as a child prodigy, playing both the clarinet and the saxophone with the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. He eventually went on to premiere several works by notable Cuban composers with the same orchestra.

A restless musical spirit, D'Rivera formed and performed with various musical ensembles as a teenager and became one of the founding members of the Orquesta Cubana de Musica Moderna, which he subsequently conducted for two years, and was also founding member and co-director of the innovative musical group Irakere, which performed an explosive mixture of jazz, rock, classical and traditional Cuban music. The group toured extensively throughout America and Europe, and also won a Grammy award (as well as several nominations).

Paquito D'Rivera has received the 2005 NEA Jazz Masters Award, the National Medal of the Arts award, presented by President Bush, and a Doctorate Honoris Causa in Music, from the Berklee School of Music. He has won eight Grammys, making history by being the first Latin artist to win Grammies in both Classical and Latin Jazz categories, for Stravinsky's Historia del Soldado and Brazilian Dreams with the New York Voices ensemble.

D'Rivera has rapidly gained a reputation as an accomplished composer. His works reveal his versatility and widespread influences, which range from Afro-Cuban, through the dance hall, to influences encountered on his many travels, and back to his classical origins. The distinguished cellist Yo-Yo Ma recorded three of his chamber pieces with the composer live at Carnegie Hall, giving D'Rivera his seventh Grammy award for his composition 'Merengue'.

In 2002, he was commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra and the Rotterdam Philharmonic to write the concerto 'Gran Danzon' (The Bel Air Concerto) for the flautist Marina Piccinini, which was premiered at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts under the direction of Maestro Leonard Slatkin.

D'Rivera is the author of the autobiography My Sax Life and the novel Oh, La Habana.



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