The brisk wind of the clear with low clouds winter solstice day didn’t stop hundreds of families and over 20 cultural groups of top performers from attending the 56th Annual Holiday Celebration held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown Los Angeles. Produced by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission in association with CDK productions, the event is a look forward to each year for many. Invited guest, Aloe Blaac and The Spanish Harlem Orchestra otherwise known as SHO stopped by to hang out at the popular 3 hour long extravaganza with co-host Cas Anvar (Olympus, The Expanse) Marissa Ramirez (Blue Bloods) and Brian White (Scandal) who helped to bring glee to a more than willing audience. Other acts for the day included on the huge playlist were, Melrose Party Bureau. Salvation Army Tabernacle Children’s Chorus, Invertigo Dance Theater ( “Sugar Plum Jam”), Sam Gabriel’s Valley Children’s Chorus ( music from Taiwan ) Mostly Kosher (klezmer revival band) Supervisor Message: Supervisor Antonovich & Family,Supervisor Solis, (Live) , Mountain Side Master Chorale. Korean American Youth Performing Artists (Korean Drum Dance), Mt. San Antonio College Chamber Singers, Mo Forro ( dance music from Northern Brazil) , Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers ( Negro Spirituals a capella), Shin Dance Company ( Chinese Fan Dance), Colbum Children’s Choir & Young Men’s Ensemble, SK Kakraba Band ( (featuring SK Kakraba on the gyilthe Ghanian xylophone), Palmdale High School Choral Union & Sunday Night Singers. Run River North (Korean Indie folk-rock), Los Angeles Young Adult Choir of Goispel Music Workshop of America, Pacifico Dance Company, Citrus Singers ( 40-member voice ensemble with handbells), Aloe Blaac, Gay Men’s Choir of Los Angeles, Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles ( all female Mariachi Band)
The opening act SHO led by fearless musical director, composer, arranger, and keyboardist, Oscar Hernandez and the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, set the mood in motion with a high energy remake of, “Merry Christmas”, and their own version of a 4 song trilogy that integrated salsa into a vigorous and majestic performance. The two-time Grammy winners are always happy to perform, said Hernandez who shared some very necessary conversation about the influence of Latin music in the mainstream market. SHO has definitely been a contender in music genre period, working with Latin greats like Johnny Pacheco, Celia Cruz, Tito Puentes, Ruben Blades, Oscar De’Leon, Willie Colon, the “La Lupe,” plays as well as the Broadway version of “Mambo Kings”. Oscar Hernandez has scored music for both TV and film and a favorite of ours, “Sex and the City,” and if you like Dunkin Donuts, that’s him.
To suggest that Oscar Hernandez’s musical and creative contribution is minor would be an insult, and just as insulting as it is not to hear and see more of the romantic music that only Latin Culture captures receive the attention of Pop and Hip-Hop. His creative and very stylish projects have garnered the attention of many including a cool list of ta do’s with Gloria Estefan who Hernandez is proud to be working with on a, “shush,” but upcoming project. Hernandez mentioned that he was just with Estefan in NY to orchestrate and arrange for she and husband Emilio’s jukebox musical, “On Your Feet.”
Integrity is an important and integral part to success for Oscar who says that all of the many projects that he has worked with are like his children and are all special and not one means to him more than the other does.” I have been blessed, and blessed, and blessed to have a very long career and all of these things have made me the musician and person that I am today. You heard them, the “Spanish Harlem Orchestra,” that’s my baby, I never wanted to be a band leader but it was given to me and it is important to keep the music on the level and the pedestal that it deserves to be. We want to keep this music alive and vibrant so that people can say, wow. Glad to have the opportunity to keep this music, and its legend alive and to keep that legacy going. People forget that musicians start off as fans I’m a fan and having Grammy winner Chick Corea and Joe Lovano say that they want to work with me on the Spanish Harlem project that they want to be a part of it and contribute; is awesome.