Bagpipes & Tambourines on Havana’s Cobblestones

Bagpipes and tambourines in Old Havana
Bagpipes and tambourines in Old Havana

Text and Photos: Irina Echarry

HAVANA TIMES, April 18 – Recently a unique pilgrimage took place in the oldest part of Old Havana, accustomed to hearing the guitars of trova musicians or the percussion of conga players, vibrated to different sounds.

Down the length of calle Obispo to the Plaza de Armas paraded youth playing bagpipes and tambourines.

Dressed in outfits typical of the different regions of Spain and dancing in intervals, students with the Agrupación Artística Gallega (Galician Artistic Group) delighted the public, many of whom decided to walk along through the city despite the punishing sun.

One man commented that he wasn’t familiar with the music but that it sounded delightful. Another woman, along with her husband, smiled every time one of the dancers shouted something in Galician, a language few people know here in Havana.  A girl said she would like to dance like the artists when she grew up, while another woman was occupied with some tree branches that were preventing her from viewing the whole spectacle.

Bagpipes and tambourines in Old Havana
Bagpipes and tambourines in Old Havana

The ensemble paraded in white lace veils, with large and small drums, smiles and flags waving.  This parade of pipers from the Galician and Asturian societies was a veritable party for children and adults alike.

The truth is, however, the public became even more excited when the Conjunto Folklórico de Camaguey (Folkloric Group of Camaguey) appeared on the scene playing the sounds of rumba and guanguancó and beating wooden claves.  Children wanted to be lifted into the sky by the members of the Gigantería stilt-walking troupe.  All this was included in the closing day’s activities of Danza en Paisajes Urbanos (Dances in Urban Landscapes) and the First Festival of Celtic Music and Traditions, which both unfolded in the nation’s capital.

It was an afternoon for enjoyment while the trees and the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales building offered their shade.  To those with richer imaginations —ones who actually believed themselves to have been transported to a land of druids and Irish hills— the rumba reminded them they were still in Cuba.

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2 thoughts on “Bagpipes & Tambourines on Havana’s Cobblestones

  • How thrilled I am to find this website… Congratulations to everyone involved.
    I live in Bali – many thousands of miles from Cuba…but now I am instantly transported.
    Blessings – janet

  • muy buenas fotos, Iri, ya no me extrañarán en Havana Times contigo ahí. Felicidades

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