Venissa Santí

2008 Pew Fellow

Venissa Santí, 2008 Pew Fellow. Directed by Glenn Holsten.

“The Cuban music, it really just talks to my soul, my roots. And so I start to combine jazz and Cuban rhythms and my own experience. I start to get something that’s an expression, an immediate expression of me. And then, as an artist, it’s really my impulse to share that with the world.”

Venissa Santí (b. 1978) inherited her musical passion from her grandfather, a composer in Cuba. Santí moved to Philadelphia when she was 17 and attended The University of the Arts. She became a trained vocalist with classical- and jazz-based technique, all the while seeking to find her own voice. Santí began an intense listening regimen of early Celia Cruz, which inspired her to travel to Cuba and find a master to train her. At the same time she began teaching at the Asociacion de Musicos Latino Americanos, a community music school in North Philadelphia. Santí has become an active participant in the Latin community and the Latin music scene of Philadelphia as a soloist in many world and jazz groups’ concerts and recordings.

Santí has done multiple one-month research trips to Havana and Matanzas, Cuba. Working with master singers she immersed herself in African Yoruba religious music and Rumba. From 2002, Santí studied with master singer Jorge Salazar in Havana, Cuba. She mentored with Orlando Fiol, pianist, from 2002–06. Her first solo recording, Bienvenida (unreleased), is a bilingual album of jazz and Cuban standards and Afro-Cuban folkloric songs, written and arranged by Santí.

References

Voloshky Ukrainian Dance Ensemble created new costumes and re-orchestrated the music for the company’s Carpathian dances.

In 2001, saxophonist and Pew Fellow Bobby Zankel founded the Warriors of the Wonderful Sound, a big band to perform his compositions and arrangements.

Grants & Grantees

J.C. Todd’s (Pew Fellow, 2014) poems investigate the impact of war, with an insistent eye and ear on language.

Grants & Grantees

As a presenting arts organization, the Painted Bride offers a wide range of work in music, dance, spoken word, and theater.

Collaborators & Colleagues

WNYC radio producer John Schaefer hosts Soundcheck, a show featuring daily live music and criticism, and was the first to be profiled in the Center’s American Impresario series.

Composer Vijay Iyer on the musical lineage that influences his artistic practice.

This interactive panel discussion, part of Swarthmore’s Chopin Without Music, reveals new possibilities for contemporary theater and classical music to intersect in performance.

During Dancing around the Bride’s run at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the exhibition received a string of glowing reviews from the New York Times.

John Blake, Jr., a jazz violinist and 2010 Pew Fellow, passed away on August 15, 2014.

Grants & Grantees

In collaboration with Ars Nova Workshop, International House Philadelphia presented Tête-a-Tête, a series of duets showcasing experimental, improvisational, and exploratory contemporary music.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Charmaine Warren is a performer, historian, consultant, and dance writer. She is founder, producer, and artistic director for the Montclair dance festival “Dance on the Lawn,” co-curator of Harlem Stage’s E-Moves, and lead curator for Dance at the Wassaic Project festival.

Questions of Practice

WXPN general manager Roger LaMay talks with us about how digital platforms have shifted the role of curation in radio, the importance of collaboration in reaching new audiences, and what distinguishes WXPN from other media outlets.