So what is Tresillo?
Besides the name of our first concert program, it's also the name of one of the most influential rhythms in the last 200 years of Western music.
The originally sub-Saharan rhythm of tresillo (123-123-12) came to the New World with the slaves. In Cuba it mixed with new cultural and musical ideas to create the habanera, which quickly became an international phenomenon. It crossed the Atlantic again to influence numerous European composers including Debussy, Massenet, and Saint-Saëns. It spread north via the twice-daily ferry to New Orleans to influence ragtime and early jazz at the same time that it was forming the basis of numerous Latin American dance forms which today include salsa and nuevo tango. It forms the basis for a wide variety of today's mainstream music, from the score of La La Land to Shape of You to the most popular song in the world: Despacito.
Our premier program explores as many of the genres tresillo has left its mark on that we can pack into one evening. Sometimes we look at them individually and sometimes we layer one on top of the next.
The enormous international influence of tresillo is perfectly illustrated in this video of music written by a Frenchman (Bizet) to imitate a Spanish sound, based on a Cuban dance (habanera), which in this arrangement is heavily influenced by salsa (born in New York and subsequently spreading through Latin America).