Raquel Z. Rivera and Ojos de Sofía: Las Décimas del Amargue and other Songs


The 500 year-old Ibero-Afro-American traditions that nourish Puerto Rican jíbaro music and the Dominican Republic’s bachata take an innovative, feminist twist under the twinkling eyes of Puerto Rican singer-songwriter, author and scholar, Raquel Z. Rivera. Raquel and her group Ojos de Sofía will present her original compositions, written in the décima format and arranged by Puerto Rican guitarist/cuatrista Bryan Vargas and Dominican guitarist Yasser Tejeda, in a concert entitled “Las Décimas del Amargue & Other Songs of Love.”  [See information on the concert and series of workshops at the end of the post.]

Description: Las Décimas del Amargue & Other Songs of Love celebrates the connections between jíbaro music, renowned for its use of the décima poetic form and bachata, known as “music of bitterness”, which also draws from the décima form. (The décima is structured around octosyllabic lines – ten per stanza – which rhyme ABBAACCDDC).  Another point of connection between jíbaro music and bachata is that both have been profoundly influenced by bolero.  That is where the “other songs of love” from the concert title come in—popular boleros interpreted by Anabellie Rivera.  Jíbaro music and bachata are deeply interconnected Caribbean genres whose historical overlaps have become obscured by bachata’s rise as an urban pop genre while jíbaro music has largely remained a staunchly traditionalist folk genre.

The project aims to highlight and give homage to the connections between these two genres and the communities that developed them, while gently subverting and expanding upon the tradition. Through creative arrangements and quirky lyrics Ojos de Sofía playfully acknowledge as they challenge folkloric and popular music’s often sexist and clichéd approaches to love and loss. Rivera’s lyrics are written from a humorous feminist perspective that promotes feminine solidarity while eschewing the blame placed on all men (or women) for the sins of the one heartbreaker.

By pulling the décima from its folkloric margins Rivera and Ojos de Sofía make it relevant to World and Latin popular music audiences of all ethnicities. [. . .]

Raquel Z. Rivera & Ojos de Sofía: Las Décimas del Amargue & Other Songs of Love
December 8, 3:30 PM
St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery Performance Space
131 East 10th Street
New York, NY 10003
Suggested Donation $10 (nobody will be turned away)

WORKSHOP (in English)—Décimas: Ancient Form, New Stories by Raquel Z. Rivera and Bryan Vargas
December 7, 3:00 PM, FREE
The Center for Puerto Rican Studies Library
Louis and Samuel J. Silberman School of Social Work
Hunter College | 2180 Third Avenue and 119th Street
New York, NY 10035

WORKSHOP (in Spanish)—Décimas: Poesía antigua, nuevas historias
by Raquel Z. Rivera, Dagoberto Lopez and Yasser Tejeda
December 9, 2013, 5:00 PM, FREE
Dominican Studies Institute, North Academic Center, Rm. 2/202
The City College of New York | 160 Convent Avenue, New York, NY 10031
RSVP: ojosdesofia@gmail.com or 646-266-7281

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