Arts & Culture / Mosaic / September 28, 2017

Fernández brings Cuban music to Knox

Jesús Fernández plays the Laúd at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday, Sept. 16. in front of Tina’s Botanicals (Dan Perez/TKS)

There is not a day that Jesúœs Fern‡ández does not pick up one of his instruments and play a tune.

Fern‡ández began his professional career as a musician at age 11, when he studied at the Provincial School of Arts in CamagŸey, Cuba. Even before his academic interest in music began, Fern‡ández was raised in an environment that was constantly accompanied by background music. He noted that, while not necessarily in an academic sense, the tradition of music has always been strong in his family.

At home, his musical pursuits started with a Cuban guitar known as the Tres, as well as another stringed instrument called the Laœud.

In his academic life, he chose a different route and formally learned the technicalities through the saxophone, which he studied for several years. In conjunction with developing his skills with the Laœd and the Tres, Ferná‡ndez dedicated several years to the study of Solfege, music theory and harmony with the saxophone. Now, Fern‡ández tends to pick up the Lauœd most often, but cannot choose a preference for one instrument over the other. He mentioned that choosing between instruments is like choosing between children and that each instrument has its own unique qualities.

Ferná‡ndez decided to dedicate most of his recent efforts into developing his skills with the Laœud having taught it for 12 years after graduating from the Provincial School of Arts. He also plays the instrument in two groups he now directs: the Quinteto La Luz and the Grupo Amanecer. The groups perform regularly at restaurants, festivals and other seasonal events. Due to his committment to the groups, Ferná‡ndez plays professionally almost daily. In addition, he noted that his home life continues to be filled with music, where he and his family play together daily.

To Ferná‡ndez, the Laœd facilitates an intimate relationship between instrument and musician. He described that it can create sounds to match a wide range of emotional states and is thus conducive to pure self-expression. He noted that he doesn’t have to travel far to find inspiration and that he was born with it in his blood.

Assistant Professor of Anthropology-Sociology William Hope first met Ferná‡ndez in Guantanamo, Cuba, when Hope first began studying Cuban music in 1998. After being taught how to play the Laœud and the Tres by Fern‡ández, the two continued to work together for several years. With the support of Knox College administration and after receiving a letter of invitation, Fern‡ndez was finally able to make his first trip to the U.S., arriving on Sept. 5. Fern‡ndez joked that he was brought to Knox because he has a brother who is a Professor of Anthropology.

During the rest of his stay, Fern‡ández will continue to work with Instructor of Music Andy Crawford and Associate Professor of Music Nikki Malley, as well as the student jazz ensemble. Prior to his departure on Oct. 7, Ferná‡ndez and the group will play a set at Fat Fish Pub for the weekly Jazz Night tradition on Oct. 5.

Fern‡ández’s best advice to young musicians is that they should love what they do. He feels that empowerment results from having passion for your work. He noted that when people love what they do, they get more enjoyment and value from the fruits of their work.


Editors note: William Hope translated for Fernández.

Sam Jacobson, Co-News Editor
Sam Jacobson is a junior majoring in philosophy and potentially minoring in creative writing or psychology. She started volunteer writing during spring term of her freshman year, and worked as a staff writer during her sophomore year.

Tags:  cuban music Jazz jesus fernandez laud William Hope

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