Columbia, South Carolina – Bomba, Puerto Rico's oldest musical rhythm, is growing in the United States thanks to workshops given by maestro Angel Luis Reyes.
Born in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, but raised in New York, Reyes was still a youngster when he learned to play percussion and joined a group of musicians including José Feliciano that in 1977 launched the Bomba Symphonic Orchestra.
On a recent trip to give a workshop in Columbia, capital of South Carolina, Reyes told Efe that bomba continues "to grow both in Puerto Rico and in the United States."
"I give a lot of credit to the folks in New York and Chicago, but there is also bomba in Seattle, where even people of Chinese descent sing and dance it in their own language. The idea is for everyone to keep this feeling alive," he said.
"In Puerto Rico a lot of young people do it," the maestro said. "Even when they're rapping and break dancing, they do it to bomba rhythms with a modern twist. No less than 10 generations have kept it going."
The musician came to Columbia at the invitation of the Belcose organization, which promotes Hispanic culture in South Carolina. The group's co-founder, Enid Acosta, pointed up the connection of bomba's origins with this state.
"Along the coast in Charleston, one of the country's most important ports in the time of slavery, people came from Puerto Rico to find slaves to work on the island, which is why we have a similarity to the African-American culture," Acosta said.