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Song fest celebrates language


Zachary Falcone, Kuren Sikand, and Vincent Holloway perform during the 4th Annual Spanish & Portuguese Song Festival on Friday at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. The trio are singing "Libre soy", the Spanish version of "Let It Go" from Disney's Frozen. Nicole Krasean

A mix of Spanish, Portuguese and English echoed throughout the walls of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Friday.

Students and guest performers tuned their guitars and warmed up their vocals moments before the show began.

IU students, faculty and local community members of all ages gathered for the fourth Annual Spanish and Portuguese Song Festival.

Event organizer Israel Fernando Herrera came up with the idea to have a Spanish and Portuguese singing competition several years ago while he was teaching Spanish here at IU.

“I asked my students what they did in their free time,” Herrera said. “Many said they sang, played instruments or were in bands. I wanted to find a way to combine Spanish with music.”

Herrera said he encouraged all of his students to participate in the event and stressed that this particular competition was different than others in the past.

“It’s much more informal. You don’t need to be a professional. This is a matter of giving students the opportunity to use the language they are learning and enjoy being on stage,” Herrera said.

This year, six undergraduate students competed for the top prize. They chose to sing popular songs from Columbia, the Dominican Republic, Spain, Mexico, Brazil and Venezuela.  

The participants were judged on two main categories: musicality and language. A music jury and a language jury selected the top three winners.

Each specialized jury consisted of IU graduate students, faculty from the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, the Latin American Music Center and other expert musicians.

Rachel Colegrove took second place for her performance in Portuguese.

Colegrove is double majoring in Spanish and Portuguese at IU. She worked with senior lecturer Vania Castro for two weeks on her pronunciation in preparation for the performance.

“I saw the competition last year and have been thinking about competing ever since,” Colegrove said.

Continuing a tradition that began in last year’s competition, there was a special category for high school students learning Spanish.

This year, three students from the Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship participated.

Next year, the performance will include a fifth edition non-competitive section for children ages 6 to 10.

First place winner Carina Liu learned Spanish not from classes at IU, but from her boyfriend with whom she practiced her performance and pronunciation.

“I haven’t taken any Spanish classes, but I learned everything I know from my boyfriend, and I joined the competition because I’ve always wanted to sing on stage,” Liu said.  

Aside from the competition, IU Jacobs School of Music students, ROK GROUP, the
Latin American Guitar Ensemble, IU Opera Theater, the Latin American Music Center, Spanish singer Tomás Lozano and the Amigo Fields band composed of IU faculty gave special guest performances.
The festival was made possible because of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, the IU Vice President Office for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs, the Institute of European Studies, the La Casa Latino Cultural Center, Latino Studies Program, IU Commission on Multicultural Understanding, the Latin American Music Center and the Jacobs School of Music.

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