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‘A revelatory moment’ — Clark filmmaker devotes 12 years to film on brilliant Cuban jazz pianist Omar Sosa

About a dozen years ago, when Clark University professor and filmmaker Soren Sorensen was freelancing as a writer, he was given an assignment by Tribe arts and culture magazine of Providence to review some CDs.

One of them featured Cuban jazz pianist Omar Sosa. «I had never heard of him before,» Sorensen acknowledged.

Sorensen has a B.A. in music with a concentration in film scoring from Berklee College of Music in Boston and would ultimately earn an M.F.A. in film with a concentration in documentary production from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Latin jazz was something «I had very limited experience with,» Sorensen said. And appreciation of Cuban music tended to not run too deep at the time, although Sosa had left the country for spells in Ecuador, the United States and Spain.

«For most people Cuban music is ‘Buena Vista Social Club’ and that’s it,» Sorensen said in reference to the movie that reunited older Cuban musicians in the 1990s.
Then Sorensen played Sosa’s album.

«I heard this music and it spoke to me for some reason,» Sorensen said. It was «a revelatory moment.» Except, «I didn’t know it would be taking up so much of my life.»

His documentary film, «Omar Sosa’s 88 Well-Tuned Drums,» became a 12-year project that now is finally conveying the magic that he found in Sosa’s music to increasingly wider audiences as it gets screened.

Sorensen, who lives in Cranston, Rhode Island, has been engaged in other activities as well. In that 12 years he became associate teaching professor and program director of screen studies at Clark University.

«Omar Sosa’s 88 Well-Tuned Drums» had a test screening at Clark University in April when it was shown as part of the Massachusetts Independent Film Festival and won Best of Festival Featured Documentary.

The film will be shown next at the Roxbury International Film Festival with a screening at 5 p.m. June 29 in the Paramount Theater at Emerson College in Boston.

Sorensen recalled recently that rather than review the Omar Sosa CD he had first heard, he asked Tribe magazine if he could interview Sosa instead. He called Sosa’s manager, Scott Price, and interviewed Sosa via Skype for over an hour.

«He was kind of like easy to talk to. He’s very giving and generous with his time,» Sorensen said.

In 2013, Sorensen filmed a Sosa concert for the first time. Sosa was at the South Orange Performing Arts Center in Orange, New Jersey, and Sorensen had a conversation in person with him a few hours before the show. «There was so much I hadn’t thought about,» Sorensen said of the topics that came up.

The performance was a duo with Sosa, piano, and Italian trumpet player Paolo Fresu. As  mesmerizingly captured in «Omar Sosa’s 88 Well-Tuned Drums,» at the end of their joint composition «Rimanere Grande!» Fresu extends a long final trumpet note for seemingly forever, while Sosa improvises on the piano. The film lingers on the magical interaction and the viewer/listener never wants it to stop.

If Sorensen had had any doubts that he was on the right mission, he he didn’t any more.
«That was one of the moments that sticks with you. So beautiful. So minimalist at the same time. Pretty unforgettable,» Sorensen said. He said he also thought, » ‘OK when’s the next time I can interview him?.

Sosa, 57, is now regarded as one of the most versatile jazz artists on the scene today. He is noted for fusing a wide range of jazz, world music and electronic elements with his native Afro-Cuban roots to create a fresh and original sound with a Latin jazz heart.

He has released nearly 30 albums and received four Grammy nominations and three Latin Grammy nominations and often performs as many as 100 concerts across six continents annually.

Sosa is originally from Camagüey, Cuba’s third-largest city. His father used to play vinyl records of American music at home, but in Sosa’s youth in Cuba they stopped playing American standards on the radio.

As Sosa recalls while being interviewed in «Omar Sosa’s 88 Well-Tuned Drums,» he went to the  prestigious Escuela Nacional de Música in Havana to study to be a percussionist.

This was the time of a strong Soviet presence in Cuba, and the teachers at the music school tended to be Russian and classical music oriented. There was no Cuban or Latin music, and certainly no American music.

Sosa and his fellow students would gather around a radio and tune in to a radio station from Miami. They listened to groups such as Earth, Wind and Fire and also found a jazz program that played music by, among others, the legendary jazz group Weather Report. «Amazing music,» Sosa says.

«He wasn’t learning the music he would end up playing,» Sorensen noted. «He could only listen to the recordings that were being spirited in to that community.»

Cuba sent military conscripts to Angola in 1986 to fight in that country’s civil war. On one occasion Sosa unwittingly was close to being killed there. On realizing how near death had been, he decided to give up percussion and concentrate on playing the piano. For a percussionist, however, the piano’s 88 keys can be likened to 88 well-tuned drums.
«He’s essentially a self-taught (piano) player,» Sorensen said. «Jazz is just one of the idioms he works in.»

Sosa later left Cuba («I think my time was finished») and moved to Ecuador where he had a job composing jingles. A subsequent move to the U.S. saw Sosa get established in Bay Area’s Latin jazz scene after arriving with basically nothing. He began a partnership with manager Scott Price that continues to this day.

There is a spiritual element to Sosa, as he is shown with candles before a performance. «Always a candle is there to let the spirits know we are ready to receive,» Sosa says.

In «Omar Sosa’s 88 Well-Tuned Drums» Sosa comes across as modest, charming and often humorous. There’s also an occasional sadness as when he relates his feelings after a good friend in Cuba has died.

The emotions are there in music that is all the more powerful for often being understated. Another sequence of pure magic in the film comes with filming Sosa and kora player Seckou Keita of Senga performing their «Transparent Water» with percussionist Gustavo Ovalles.

Some people interviewed in the film have a hard time trying to define Sosa musically — «An element of jazz but also post-classical feel to it … Echoes of Cuban roots …»  «Not a virtuosic kind of pianist, but establishes a motif and holds it up to the light .

Sosa says he hopes he can keep evolving. He also says, «This is me. You can like or no. This is me.»

The film also shows Sosa meeting up with Manolo Badrena from Weather Report, who he had admired so much, and performing with Afri-Lectric Experience and with his latest band, the Quarteto AfroCubano, in venues including New York’s Blue Note Jazz Club.

The scenes are worth waiting for, and there are some  good reasons why «Omar Sosa’s 88 Well-Tuned Drums» took so long to come to the screen. Sorensen only had so much time and money.

«I waited for him to come (Sosa) to the Northeast (to film) — New York, Boston … It  did take a number of years. Then we had COVID,» Sorensen said.

«I teach full time and I have two small young children … I am a filmmaker but first and foremost I am an educator and extremely lucky to do that.»

A Kickstarter campaign for the film project had a $19,000 goal and raised over $20,000. Sorensen got in-kind contributions when he could, many of them generous in different ways. Contributors included the film’s director of photography who was not paid.

«Omar Sosa’s 88 Well-Tuned Drums» is Sorensen’s second full-length documentary. The first, and a very different film, is «My Father’s Vietnam» (2016), which combines interviews and never-before-seen photographs and 8mm footage of the era to tell the story of three soldiers, only one of whom (Sorensen’s father) returned home from the Vietnam War alive. The film premiered at the 2015 Rhode Island International Film Festival, where it won the Soldiers and Sacrifice Grand Prize.

«I tell my students to look in their own backyard for stories. A family member. That’s a great place to start,» Sorensen said. «That’s how I started.  I interviewed my father and made a film out of his experience in Vietnam and two guys who died there.»

He also collaborated on a  short nonfiction film with his colleague, photographer and Clark University Studio Art professor Stephen DiRado, titled «With Dad.» The award-winning film features DiRado’s still photography, specifically during the painful 20-year period of his father’s decline and eventual death from Alzheimer’s disease.

Sorensen has plans for a new full-length feature documentary «that’s taking place in the Civil War era. That’s all I’ll say about it for now. But it is a historical subject.»

Omar Sosa, meanwhile, is alive and well.
«He’s not showing any signs of slowing down,» Sorensen said of Sosa. «I’m catching him at the top of his form. So this film doesn’t have an agenda other than exposing an audience who might be into music documentaries — exposing them to his music  and these other artists as well. There are artists representing five continents in the film.»

The Roxbury International Film Festival (June 23 to July 2) is the largest film festival in New England celebrating people of color around the world. The festival presents narrative and documentary features, shorts, animation, experimental and youth films and holds workshops, panel discussions, discussions with filmmakers and networking opportunities. This year the  festival will run in-person at various locations and have an online component.

Tickets to the 5 p.m. June 29 screening at the Paramount Theater, Emerson College, are $15. For more information, visit www.roxfilmfest.com.

Upcoming for «Omar Sosa’s 88 Well-Tuned Drums» are the Canadian premiere July 9 at the 2022 ReelHeART International Film and Screenplay Festival in Toronto, and the UK premiere at 2022 Doc’n Roll Film Festival which runs in London Oct. 27 to Nov. 15.

«Getting this film out in a wide streaming release would be the ultimate. It’s a celebration of this person’s life and musical career,» Sorensen said.

The test screening at the Massachusetts Independent Film Festival at Clark University had some «technical difficulties at the beginning,» but Sorensen was on home turf.

«It was nice to be in Razzo Hall to see it in front of a warm audience. It was well received,» Sorensen said.

«Omar Sorensen’s 88 Well-Tuned Drums» had it official world premiere April 23 at the USA Film Festival in Dallas.

«It was a huge honor. That was the first movie I had seen in a commercial movie theater since COVID. It was pretty cool. A moment I won’t forget.»

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Music

Eurovision 2023: The running order of the semifinals has been revealed!

Greece’s song for Eurovision 2023, by Victor Vernicos, was released a few days ago with the title “What They Say”!

The Eurovisionfun team once again watched and reacted to the official video clip of the country’s entry for the upcoming Eurovision contest! Enjoy Apostolos, Paschalis, Stella and Apostolis in a Reaction video with detailed commentary on Greece‘s participation, for 2023!.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to be the first to enjoy interviews, reaction videos and Live s.

The analyzes of the fans and not only for a few minutes have been on fire, since the theories based on the prehistory of the countries in the contest, are a first picture of how passable is the qualification to the final or not. In other words, it’s time to make our predictions about who will advance to the final and who are the favorites to say goodbye to Liverpool early…

Turin will host the 67th Eurovision Song Contest from May 9th to 13th at the Liverpool Arena. The motto of this year’s event, as chosen by the organizers is “The Sound of Beauty”.

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Beyonce UK Renaissance Tour 2023: Dates & How To Get Tickets

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It’s finally happening.

Calling all members of the Bey Hive! The time has finally come. Beyoncé has announced that she will be touring her latest album, ‘Renaissance’, released in July last year. Much to our delight, the superstar confirmed the live dates were happening at the Wearable Art Gala in California on October 22, when two tickets and a full backstage pass were put on auction.

Although the rumours of the 2023 tour have been confirmed, there still remains a lot of speculation around the dates of the UK leg, as well as whether Beyonce will be joining Elton John as a headliner at Glastonbury 2023. There is a lot of hype around Bey returning to British shores and a lot of fans will be trying to secure their seats to see her perform. We expect that when the tickets drop for ‘Renaissance’ in the UK they will sell out mega fast, so make sure to keep an eye out.

If you want to find out how to cuff your tickets to the ‘Renaissance’ tour then keep reading. Here is everything you need to know about Beyoncé’s 2023 UK shows.

The singer has been very secretive with any news of her tour and is yet to release any dates of pre-sale or general sale tickets. In true Bey fashion, she is keeping the Bey Hive very much on its toes.

No tickets have been released yet, so we don’t know exactly how much the ‘Renaissance’ tickets will cost. However, it is likely that the price will depend on where you sit.

For her ‘Formation’ tour shows in the UK, Beyonce’s tickets ranged from £77.50 to £385. It can only be assumed that tickets for this much-awaited tour won’t come cheap and may be much higher than that.

The ‘Break My Soul’ singer is yet to release any dates or venues for her ‘Renaissance’ tour and could announce them at any moment.

During her previous tours of the UK, Beyonce has made recurring visits to venues in London, Cardiff, Glasgow and Manchester. We can only hope that she will be making a return to these areas in her upcoming tour.

Now that the tour has been announced, there has been a lot of speculation around who Bey will be choosing to follow her around the world to open the show for her.

There have been rumours that Beyoncé has been considering British girl group Flo, who will receive the Rising Star Award at the 2023 Brit Awards. Other potential openers who will join Bey on stage are the Nigerian singer Tems, as well as English singer and rapper Bree Runway.
Beyonce’s last tour in the UK was back in 2018 with her husband Jay-Z for her show ‘On The Run II’. The couple performed a total of six acts that included a mix of both of the stars’ songs such as ‘Crazy in Love’, ‘99 Problems’ and ‘Run the World (Girls)’.

They started the tour in Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester and London before moving onto the rest of Europe and finishing the tour back in the USA.

Before that, Bey toured the UK in 2016 with The Formation World Tour in support of her album ‘Lemonade’.

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11 Best Music Festivals of 2022 – Esquire

You may have missed Coachella but there are plenty of open air raves left to be had this year.
Back in 2020, many didn’t believe that we’d be rubbing shoulders with fellow-music lovers and screaming lyrics to our favorite songs at music venues together. With .css-umdwtv{-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-decoration-thickness:.0625rem;text-decoration-color:#FF3A30;text-underline-offset:0.25rem;color:inherit;-webkit-transition:background 0.4s;transition:background 0.4s;background:linear-gradient(#ffffff, #ffffff 50%, #d5dbe3 50%, #d5dbe3);-webkit-background-size:100% 200%;background-size:100% 200%;}.css-umdwtv:hover{color:#000000;text-decoration-color:border-link-body-hover;-webkit-background-position:100% 100%;background-position:100% 100%;}Coachella back this year, one thing is clear for 2022: music festivals have been normalized again. Maybe you went and are desperate for more, wondering what to do with that leftover festival fever. Maybe you didn’t and the jealousy is too much to bear. Either way, don’t fret, Esquire complied a list of music festivals taking place the rest of the year.
Miami, FL – May 20-22
Minneapolis, MN – June 18-19
Afropunk is back again this year and is bringing with it the usual: groundbreaking arts, fashion and music from the Black community. Ari Lennox, Noname and Mereba are all set to perform at the festival, which will take place in Miami in May, and in Minneapolis over Juneteenth weekend, marking the first ever Afropunk event in the Midwest.
.css-1lxmaj6{background:#ffffff;background-color:#ffffff;-webkit-background-size:100% 200%;background-size:100% 200%;border:thin solid #FF3A30;border-radius:2rem;color:#000;display:inline-block;font-family:Lausanne,Arial,sans-serif;font-size:0.875rem;letter-spacing:0.04rem;line-height:1.3;padding:0.6rem 1.125rem 0.3125rem;-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;text-decoration-color:#FF3A30;text-decoration-thickness:.0625rem;text-transform:uppercase;text-underline-offset:0.25rem;-webkit-transition:all 0.3s ease-in-out;transition:all 0.3s ease-in-out;white-space:pre-line;width:auto;}@media(max-width: 73.75rem){.css-1lxmaj6{margin:0rem;}}@media(min-width: 64rem){.css-1lxmaj6{margin:0rem;}}.css-1lxmaj6:focus-visible{outline-color:body-cta-btn-link-focus;}.css-1lxmaj6:hover{color:#000;text-decoration-color:border-link-body-hover;-webkit-background-position:100% 100%;background-position:100% 100%;background-color:#FF3A30;}Buy Tickets, Miami
Buy Tickets, Minneapolis

Boston, MA
May 27-29

Boston Calling Music Festival is looking to make Memorial Day weekend one to remember. Nine Inch Nails, The Strokes and Metallica are all set to headline the three-day festival. The former are joined by impressive acts such as Haim, Weezer, Avril Lavigne, Black Pumas and more.
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New York, NY
June 10-12

Governors Ball, as always, will deliver another year incredible music, and some of the best NYC eats. This year festival-goers will be heading to Citi Field Lots, Queens to see the likes of Kid Cudi, Halsey and J-Cole, Roddy Ricch, Glass Animals, among others.
Buy Tickets
Manchester, TN
June 16-19

Described as «the most positive place on this planet,» Bonnaroo is the place to be this summer. This year’s acts include Ludacris, 100 Gecs, and Marc Rebillet. There’s also a ton of electronic and pop punk acts set to perform at Bonnaroo. If you’ve never experienced Bonnaroo, it may be time for you to put on your camping shoes and head to Tennessee.
Buy Tickets
Chicago, IL
July 15-16

If you’re wondering where all of the cool alternative artists will be this summer, you can find them at Pitchfork. For years, Pitchfork has been tagging themselves as «the most trusted voice in music.» Based on this year’s line-up, Pitchfork definitely has a taste for great music. Artists such as The National, Mitski and The Roots will be headlining the three-day weekend, where they’ll be followed by a slew of talented acts like Japanese Breakfast, Earl Sweatshirt, Tierra Whack, Amber Mark and more.
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Newport, RI
July 22-24

Being one of the first modern music festivals in the US with a 60-year-run, you can expect Newport Festival to be nothing short of extraordinary. For decades the festival has boasted renowned performances and an astounding cultural atmosphere. This year is no different, with artists all the way from Clairo to Beebadoobee, Buffalo Nichols, Maren Morris and more set to take the stage in Rhode Island.
Tickets are currently sold out, but there is an option to join the waitlist.
Join Waitlist
Chicago, IL
July 28-31

LollaPalooza, the Chicago-based festival, is back this year with Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, Green Day, Lil Baby, Kygo and many others. Alongside a myriad of colorful outfits, you can expect to find incredible restaurants in the Windy City.
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Las Vegas, NV
September 16-18

Life is Beautiful festival coming to the Las Vegas area this September. Alongside music, the festival also offers culinary, art, and learning experiences in Downtown Vegas. This seems like a wonderful bonus to an incredible lineup. Artists like Lorde, Arctic Monkeys, Gorillaz, Jack Harlow and more are set to perform.
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Los Angeles, CA
September 16-18

After being canceled for the past two years, due to COVID-19, Primavera Sound is ready to shake American audiences. Artists such as James Blake, Nine Inch Nails, Cigarettes After Sex, Lorde, King Krule and many others are booked for the festival’s 2022 debut.
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Franklin, TN
September 24-25

The multi-genre weekend festival is set to make its eight year return this September. Chris Stapleton and Brandi Carlisle, who both received Grammy nominations this year, are set to headline the festival. Another Grammy winner on the bill is Jon Batiste, who actually earned the highest number of nominations by the Recording Academy this year. The complete line-up also features a number of other impressive musicians like The Avett Brothers, Elle King, Lennon Stella, Lake Street Drive and more.
Buy Tickets
Las Vegas, NV
October 22-29

Emo and Pop-Punk fans can rejoice because all of your favorite artists are set to take the stage in Las Vegas this Fall with the When We Were Young Festival. The new festival boast an impeccable set list, which is already sold out. Artists such as Bring Me To the Horizon, Pierce the Veil, Avril Lavigne, Sleeping With Sirens are set to perform. Paramore and My Chemical Romance will be the festival’s headliners.
Join Waitlist

Ammal Hassan is a writer and Esquire’s Snapchat Editor. She covers all things culture with a focus on music and pop culture. She is from Nairobi, Kenya and lives in New York City. 
.css-gk9meg{display:block;font-family:Lausanne,Arial,sans-serif;font-weight:normal;margin-bottom:0;margin-top:0;padding-top:0.25rem;-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}@media (any-hover: hover){.css-gk9meg:hover{color:link-hover;}}@media(max-width: 48rem){.css-gk9meg{font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.15;margin-bottom:0.25rem;}}@media(min-width: 40.625rem){.css-gk9meg{font-size:1rem;line-height:1.2;margin-bottom:0.625rem;}}@media(min-width: 64rem){.css-gk9meg{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.2;}}@media(min-width: 73.75rem){.css-gk9meg{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.2;}}The Grammy Nominations Are Getting My Hopes Up
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