Wheaton Conversations: Michael Esposito & Eduardo Betancourt

Wheaton Conversations:
Music & Rhythms of Venezuela
with Michael Esposito & Eduardo Betancourt

Watch the Feb. 18, 2021 recording above

The extraordinary beauty and diversity of traditional Venezuelan music – distinct musical genres with versions ranging from coastal plains to mountains to savannah and jungle of Venezuela and their representative rhythms – will be highlighted by researcher Michael Esposito and accomplished musician Eduardo Betancourt. The presentation features a slide show, brief videos, and live demonstrations of the rhythms on key instruments in Venezuelan music’s traditional repertoire (the harp, cuatro, and maracas). 

The presentation will focus on the joropo, characterized by its energetic sound featuring the diatonic harp as the lead instrument, and the zapateo, which can be traced to its Andalusian origin, transformed and incorporated into the lifestyle of the Venezuelan llaneros (cattle herders). Other rhythms featured in this presentation will include the pasaje, the Venezuelan merengue, and the danza

Español: La extraordinaria belleza y diversidad de la música tradicional venezolana, distintos géneros musicales con versiones que van desde las llanuras costeras hasta las montañas, la sabana y la selva de Venezuela y sus ritmos representativos, serán destacadas por el investigador Michael Esposito y el renombrado músico Eduardo Betancourt. La presentación incluye una presentación de diapositivas, videos breves y demostraciones en vivo de los ritmos de los instrumentos clave del repertorio tradicional de la música venezolana (arpa, cuatro y maracas).

La presentación se centrará en el joropo, caracterizado por su sonido enérgico con el arpa diatónica como instrumento principal, y el zapateo, que se remonta a su origen andaluz, transformado e incorporado al estilo de vida de los llaneros venezolanos. Otros ritmos presentados en esta presentación incluirán el pasaje, el merengue venezolano y la danza.

This event is part of “Wheaton Conversations,” a new virtual series highlighting select artists with ties to WheatonArts! To see the full schedule of conversations, Click Here. 

Eduardo Betancourt sitting and smiling in front of two large diatonic harps.

Eduardo Betancourt is a Venezuelan-born musician, producer, arranger, composer, and multi-instrumentalist. He is an internationally known harpist with 30 years of experience in traditional and fusion Venezuelan music. Eduardo has given concerts and harp clinics in the U.S. and around the world, including London, Tokyo, Canada, Paraguay, France, Austria, South Africa, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil. Eduardo performances on more than 100 albums and shows of significant national and international artists. He is a Latin Grammy winner for his participation in the album “Tesoros de la música Venezolana” by Ilan Chester. He is a three-time nominee of the Pepsi Music Awards in Venezuela for “Best Artist,” “Best Song,” and “Best Album” for his album “AD LIBITUM.”

Eduardo has worked with important musical groups from Venezuela such as the “Huáscar Barradas Band,” Rafael “El Pollo” Brito Band, “2Arpas4Manos” with Leonard Jácome, and the “Joropo Jam Project.” In Buenos Aires, Argentina, he founded the duo “Luna & Betancourt” (Piano and Harp) with Gabriel Luna, classical pianist and Chair of the Department of Folk Music of Argentina in the “National Conservatory of Music.” In the US, Eduardo performs with two bands – “The Venezuelan Project” and “The Eduardo Project,” where he continues to honor his homeland’s musical heritage while exploring fusion with other music genres and ways to incorporate Venezuelan folk music into contemporary musical pieces.

Small headshot of Michael Esposito in a button up shirt and tie.

Following his completion of a B.A. in International Relations with a minor in Spanish and a certificate in Latin American Studies (including a semester in Mexico) from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Mike Esposito was a Fulbright Scholar at the Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia, and obtained a Graduate Assistantship and Master’s Degree in Political Science from Villanova University. He is fully fluent in Spanish and is self-taught in Portuguese, French, Dutch and other languages. Inspiration for his music collection and research interests came from his years spent in Colombia and his interactions with musicians and dancers of various Latino communities in the Philadelphia area, where he lives.

Michael Esposito is the co-founder and longtime board president of Raíces Culturales Latinoamericanas (“Latin American Cultural Roots”), an arts organization serving the Philadelphia area’s Latino community since 1991 – dedicated to preserving and promoting the diverse cultural heritage of Latin America and the Caribbean. Mike’s vision for Raíces was to form a network of artists working in unison to promote the arts in the community and create a structure that encourages artists and community leaders’ development. To that end, Mike assembled at Raíces a large group of collaborators who offered music and dance performances, school programs, art exhibits, presentations, and field research. During his tenure, Mike also conducted field research in various Latin countries to expand his knowledge and its repertoire. He organized a cultural conference in Antigua and Barbuda in 2005 with the Antigua Dance Academy collaboration and has kept close contact with performing artists and researchers in all of the places he visited ever since. 

Thank you to our sponsor, PNC Arts Alive!

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