Vancouver Welcomes Vibrant Proponents of Cuban Music, Vocalist Daymé Arocena and Pianist Roberto Fonseca

Vancouver Welcomes Vibrant Proponents of Cuban Music, Vocalist Daymé Arocena and Pianist Roberto Fonseca

Havana’s Finest Solo Artists Perform a Double-Bill of Dynamic Afro-Cuban Fusion


The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at the University of British Columbia (UBC) presents Afro-Cuban neo-soul singer Daymé Arocena and Havana-born piano virtuoso Roberto Fonseca in an exhilarating co-bill on April 15, 2018 at 7pm in the Chan Shun Concert Hall. These shining talents who draw from Cuba’s storied musical tradition will each ignite the stage – Arocena with her intoxicating vocals, and Fonseca with his sophistication on the keys – offering a fresh and modern take on the styles rooted in their Caribbean home country.

“Cuba has gifted the world with a variety of music – from mambo and conga, to son cubano and cha-cha-cha, influences of which can be found across so many different genres of music today,” says Joyce Hinton, Co-Managing Director of the Chan Centre. “Fonseca and Arocena are two of their country’s most talented and talked-about musicians, following in the footsteps of greats such as the late Celia Cruz and Bébo Valdez to bring a new and thrilling Cuban sound to the international spotlight.”

Born in Havana in 1992, Arocena is a vocalist, composer, bandleader, and choir director best known for her unique, soulful mix of jazz, rumba, and Cuban neo-soul inspired with chants of the Afro-Cuban Santeria religion. Arocena was raised in a musical family and grew up listening to a broad range of genres, from traditional Cuban and African music, to jazz and folk. She began to sing when she was four years old and after 10 more years of perfecting her voice, she caught the attention of Cuba’s prestigious band Los Primos, who invited her to become their lead singer.

Arocena’s star quickly began to rise after being discovered by BBC broadcaster and producer Gilles Peterson. A whirlwind of opportunities soon followed, including a collaboration with praised Canadian saxophonist Jane Bunnett alongside five other Cuban women on the self-titled album, Jane Bunnett and Maqueque. The album won a JUNO Award for ‘Best Group Jazz Album of the Year’ in 2015. After signing a record deal with Peterson’s Brownswood record label that same year, Arocena’s debut album Nueva Era, was released to critical acclaim. A follow-up album in 2017, Cubafonia, garnered further rave reviews and secured her place as “one of the most exciting new artists to come along in years” (Songlines).

Described as “one of the most gifted, adventurous spirits of his generation” by The Observer, Fonseca first burst onto the scene at the age of 15 when he performed at the International Jazz Festival of Havana. Born into a musical family in Havana in 1975, Fonseca took up the piano when he was eight years old with a passion for the Afro-Cuban music he was taught in school. An early innovator, he composed his first piece at age 14 and went on to graduate from Cuba’s prestigious Instituto Superior de Arte with a Master’s degree in composition.

Shortly after graduating, Fonseca left Cuba to “find his sound.” Returning from a tour in Italy, he teamed up with saxophonist Javier Zalba to form Temperamento, the group that would become his creative platform for the next 15 years. Their first album, En El Comienzo, was named ‘Cuba’s Best Jazz Album’ in 1999. Following the release of a series of solo albums, Fonseca found stardom when he was tapped by Buena Vista Social ClubTM to replace Rubén Gonzalez following the pianist’s death in 2003.

Fonseca embarked on a world tour with the Buena Vista Social ClubTM, and joined founding member Ibrahim Ferrer to play more than 400 concerts. Upon returning to Cuba, Fonseca released the album that would bring him mainstream fame, Zamazu, merging many of his influences: Afro-Cuban music, jazz, classical music and traditional Cuban music. He followed it up with Akokan (2009), Live in Marciac (2010) and Yo (2012), the latter of which won him a Grammy nomination for ‘Best Latin Jazz Album’ in 2014. His latest release ABUC (2016) revisits his Afro-Cuban roots and features a number of acclaimed artists, a few of which have graced the Chan Centre stage, namely Trombone Shorty and Buena Vista Social ClubTM guitarist Eliades Ochoa – as well as Daymé Arocena.

Chan Centre Connects Events (
A series of ancillary events programmed in conjunction with Chan Centre performances, exploring the role of arts and artists in society.

Pre-Show Talk with Roberto Fonseca – Sunday, April 15, 2018, 6pm @ Chan Shun Concert Hall. Percussionist and Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Provost and VP Academic Dr. Sal Ferreras hosts a conversation with Roberto Fonseca on the artist’s life and music, including touring with Buena Vista Social ClubTM and the inspiration behind his latest album ABUC, which he describes as a “review” of the rich history of music in Cuba. Free for ticket holders.

About The Chan Centre for Performing Arts at UBC (
Since 1997, the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts in UBC’s Arts & Culture District has earned an international reputation for its striking design, stellar acoustics, and exceptional programming. Artists, critics, and patrons alike are unanimous in their praise of the facility, winning it a place among North America’s pre­­­­mier performing arts venues. The Chan Centre boasts three unique venues: the superb Chan Shun Concert Hall, the dramatic Telus Studio Theatre, and the intimate Royal Bank Cinema. From classical, jazz, theatre, and opera to world music, the Chan Centre is a vital part of UBC campus life where artistic and academic disciplines merge to inspire new perspectives on life and culture. Past performers and guest speakers include: Wynton Marsalis, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Renée Fleming, Dan Savage, Yo-Yo Ma, Buena Vista Social Club, Sigur Rós, Mavis Staples, Anoushka Shankar, Trombone Shorty, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock. This season the Chan Centre is celebrating two decades of world class performance. Visit their 20th anniversary archives at for memorable stories and never-before-seen photos from the past twenty years.
Chan Centre presents:
Daymé Arocena and Roberto Fonseca
Sunday, April 15, 2018 at 7pm
Ticket prices:
From $38
Chan Centre for the Performing Arts
University of British Columbia
6265 Crescent Road, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
Box Office:
604-822-2697 /

In person at the Chan Centre ticket office
Open Tue-Sat, 12pm-5pm


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