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Catatumbo Percussion Ensemble


The Catatumbo percussion ensemble is a group born as the cause of an initiative from the Master José Alejandro García and the “El Sistema” Percussion School. Since its inception in April 2018, they have tirelessly dedicated themselves to the performance of emblematic pieces for their particular format of chamber music. simultaneously, the ensemble has had an important approach with composers born in Venezuela, highlighting the creation of the First Venezuelan Contemporary Music Gala for Percussion, in November 2019.

Since its creation, the Catatumbo Percussion Ensemble has prioritized being a multiplier of knowledge through each one of its members. Together with the Percussion school, its members have given talks and Master Classes to the children and youth who are part of El Sistema in the Caracas metropolitan area. Today, two of its members are part of the list of teachers of the El Sistema Percussion School and, in turn, its director performs as a member of the heading committee of that entity.

In 2019, the Catatumbo Percussion Ensemble was awarded first place in two international music competitions (in the “International Music Competition of Belgrade”, in Serbia and the “International Music Competition 'The Muse'”, in Greece). This became a historical fact for percussion in Venezuela because never before, a group of this format had obtained any recognition from music competitions worldwide. Then, this year 2020, the ensemble was awarded with a first place in the chamber music category of the France Music Competition 2020 and had a place in the final of the Cadenza Music Contest, in which it was among the best 18 participants out of a total of more than 500 applicants.

This ensemble is made up of seven of the most outstanding young classical percussionists in our country: Yuth Cañizalez, David Fernández, Sebastián Pérez, Sebastián Cordero, Joel Maximiliano Polo, Oraly Rodriguez, Rafael Fernández and their musical director, José Alejandro García. Within this group of young musicians, there are currently members of the most important orchestras in the country (some with worldwide significance), such as the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, where their musical director and members Rafael Fernández, Joel Maximiliano Polo and Yuth Cañizalez are part of; the Municipal Symphony Orchestra of Caracas, of which the young Sebastián Pérez is a member; the Juan José Landaeta Symphony Orchestra, which currently has David Fernández among its percussion line; and finally, the National Philharmonic Orchestra, of which the young Yuth Cañizalez is also a member. Oraly Rodriguez and Sebastian Cordero stand out as students of the El Sistema Percussion School.

Among this group of young talents, there are also important individual achievements obtained throughout the ensemble's short musical career, such as Absolute First Place by Joel Maximiliano Polo, in the “C” category of Drummer at The ItalyPas 2019, in Pescara, Italy; David Fernández was selected as a finalist in the first edition of the “Tocar y Luchar” Competition 2020 from “El Sistema” (a contest that brought together the most outstanding young musicians of our country in all instruments); On the other side the ensemble's musical director José Alejandro García, has received numerous international recognitions in the percussion area such as; two nominations for the Pepsi Music Awards 2019; as well as 2 important first places in international music composition competitions, all of these, both in Europe and in the United States.

Within the structure of the Catatumbo Percussion Ensemble, there are two subgroups that make part of the ensemble activities simultaneously. These are the Marimba’s Catatumbo Quartet and the Catatumbo Trio. Recently, the Marimba’s Catatumbo quartet was selected by the Universal Marimba Competition for its final rounds live in Belgium. This competition is under the sponsorship of Her Majesty Queen Paola of Belgium. It should be emphasized that this is the most important competition for marimba in the world, due to it brings together the best exponents of this instrument worldwide, as well as the greatest Masters within the jury qualifier. The selection of the Catatumbo quartet is an unprecedented achievement for a percussion group from our country and it leaves the meaning of our work very high, as well as placing the name of our country side by side with the great world powers of the marimba.

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