OFFICIAL VOICE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CUBA CENTRAL COMMITTEE
Instrumentalist and composer José Luis Cortés was awarded the 2017National Music Prize in Havana’s Museo de Bellas Artes. Photo: Dunia Álvarez Palacios

Flutist, composer and pedagogue José Luis Cortés (El Tosco), one of the most distinguished Cuban instrumentalists, was presented with the 2017 National Music Prize on Saturday, March 17, for his contribution to the development and expansion of Cuban music.

In a ceremony held at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, in Havana, the leader and founder of NG La Banda, born in 1951 in Santa Clara and a graduate of the National Arts School in the specialty of the flute, was presented with the Prize by the President of the Cuban Institute of Music, musicologist Marta Bonet, and First Deputy Minister of Culture, María Elena Salgado.

Photo: Dunia Álvarez Palacios

Among the tributes, El Tosco was presented with a piece by renowned painter Eduardo Roca Salazar (Choco).

Deciding on whom to award the 2017 Prize to were Digna Guerra, Adalberto Álvarez, César Pedroso, Beatriz Márquez and Juan Piñera; who recognized José Luis Cortés’ extensive career, marked by his virtuosity, his dedication to teaching and his contribution to the universalization of Cuban music.

El Tosco was one of the precursors of Cuban timba during the 1990s and has championed a sound full of rhythmic complexities with his group, NG La Banda, that expanded the limits of Cuban music and highlighted the talent and imagination of a core of young artists who began to reinvigorate the popular dance music scene, influenced by the legacy of groups such as Irakere and Los Van Van.

On receiving the award, the outstanding musician called on the media to promote more diverse programming and greater attention to Cuban music, to allow the public to hear the orchestras and sounds that identify the island around the world.

El Tosco jammed alongside Orlando Valle Maraca during the awards ceremony. Photo: Dunia Álvarez Palacios