Intimate evening of Latin music

Cuarteto Los Hispanos.
Photo courtesy of Lehman Center for the Performing Arts

Lehman Center for the Performing Arts presents a special Mother’s Day concert produced by West Side Beat Productions in association with Latin Media Marketing — an intimate evening of sublime, romantic music with the legendary Puerto Rican ensemble Cuarteto Los Hispanos on Saturday, May 7 at 8:00 p.m. The concert will also feature celebrated bolero singer Blanca Iris Villafañe, Trio Ideal and Grupo Típico Boricua.

Lehman Center for the Performing Arts is on the campus of Lehman College/CUNY at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, Bronx, N.Y. 10468.

Cuarteto Los Hispanos, formed in Puerto Rico in 1952, became an instant radio hit with their first recording “La noche de Pure Ocasio.”

Incorporating elements of jazz harmony to Latin music, the quartet was soon performing their highly romantic repertoire in New York, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Venezuela and Peru. In 1960 “Un telegrama” hit the top of the radio charts in Puerto Rico. Soon after they became the first Puerto Rican group to make a Spanish version of a rock song, Neil Sedaka’s popular “Oh Carol,” topping the charts with “No me hagas llorar;” followed a year later by Spanish versions of “Rock Around the Clock” and “The Great Pretender.”

In 1962 the group traveled to London to participate in the series “Broadway Goes Latin,” performing at charity events with Bob Hope and a Royal Command Performance for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who honored them with a scroll.

Blanca Iris Villafañe, born in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico in 1935, began singing on WKAQ Radio at age 13 and was named Best Female Youth singer in 1948. After completing her regular academic studies, she went to New York in 1953 and soon entered an amateur singing contest on WWRL’s “La Voz Hispana.” She won a recording contract and a series of shows in local theaters and began her reign as “The Queen of the Juke Boxes.”

Trio Ideal comprises Pedro Velez (lead vocalist), Guillermo Cruz (second voice and second guitarist) and Santos Cruz (lead guitarist and third voice). Trio Ideal’s latest album, Para el pueblo con amor, includes such songs as “Mi viejo,” “Bajo un palmar” and “Amor de madre.”

Grupo Típico Boricua has been together for five years, bringing romantic melodies with a tinge of salsa and the sound of the Puerto Rico countryside all over the United States. Led by lead singer Miguel Colon, formerly with Yomo Toro and Nieves Quintero, the band includes Luis Rodriguez, formerly with Johnny Pacheco, on cuatro and tres; Willian Vasques on Spanish guitar; and Papo Colon on timbales and rhythm.

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