On a brisk (at least for Miamians) “winter” day in Miami, while it was freezing cold up north, it was a bearable 61 degrees and sunny at the HistoryMiami Museum. On that day, the museum hosted a free “Family Fun Day – Sounds of Venezuela” event, which is part of its artist-in-residence series running from January to April 2023.
Appearing at the event was artist-in-residence Henry Linárez Ensemble, consisting of a group of South Florida musicians, who specialize in Latin music.
Pictured above are Henry Linárez, Jr. on the right and his father Henry Linárez, Sr. (as it should be for Family Fun Day) on the left, from whom Henry was inspired to become a musician. Henry Jr. and Henry Sr. are each playing a Venezuelan cuatro, a four-stringed guitar, pictured above. It is the national musical instrument of the country and, in size, is somewhere between a ukelele and a regular six-string guitar.
The other members of the ensemble were Jose Gregorio Hernandez on percussion and Elvis Martinez on stand-up bass.
According to Vanessa Navarro Maza, Folklife curator of HistoryMiami Museum, the organization was founded as a historical society more than 80 years ago by a group of people who were concerned about preserving the history of the city. At first, the group would meet at members’ private homes and then at a building located on the Vizcaya grounds. In the mid-1980s, HistoryMiami Museum moved to its present cultural plaza location at 101 W. Flagler Street.
Vanessa says that “the growth of the museum over the last two decades has been significant.” Vanessa asserts that the organization’s Artist-in-Residence program is intended to engender in Miami’s young people an appreciation for Latin culture, music, cuisine and the Spanish language.
HistoryMiami Museum collaborates with and shares materials, research, and information with other area educational institutions, such as FIU’s Center for Children and Families. It is a non-profit organization that gets its funding from various sources, including donations, memberships, Miami-Dade County, and the National Endowment of the Arts, which sponsors the Artist-in-Residence program.
Henry Linárez, Jr. has been playing musical instruments for the last 40 years and learned the cuatro from his father. He says that Venezuelan music has a lot of energy, which was obvious from the lively reaction from the audience at the event.
Future events at the museum’s Family Fun Day series will include, among others, “Musical Passport to Venezuela” on Saturday, March 18, and “Workshop: Venezuelan Cuatro 101 on Saturday, April 22.” For more information, please contact the museum at historymiami.org