San Juan, PR – Today the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA), the National Park Service, and La Casa de la Plena, announce a historic new collaborative and free public performance project, Pleneando en el Castillo San Cristóbal. This new series of interactive and family friendly workshops and performances feature Plena, a Puerto Rican heritage expression, rooted in oral traditions, dynamic drumming, improvisational songs and community activation, presented by a collective of masterful plena practitioners, led by Héctor “Tito” Matos.
The NCTA and the San Juan National Historic Site first partnered in 2019, in a series of interpretive cultural programming designed to activate the open grounds of the Castillo San Cristóbal in Old San Juan, engage both tourist and local communities, and showcase a variety of traditional Puerto Rican cultural expressions. By the summer of 2021, the partnership expanded to include Matos, a master plena practitioner and educator, and the community-led cultural center, La Casa de la Plena (located in Santurce, Puerto Rico, just outside Old San Juan). With La Casa de la Plena–an initiative founded and led by Matos–the San Juan National Historic Site will provide a free series of family-oriented workshops and dynamic musical presentations, dedicated to la plena. The first Sunday of every month from November 2021 through August 2022, visitors can enjoy music presented by La Máquina Insular (directed by Matos) and other plena luminaries, engage in hands on drumming and singing demonstrations, and learn more about the history of la plena and its venerated and masterful practitioners. The events will be held at the entrance plaza of Castillo San Cristóbal from 3:30pm – 4:30 pm AST. The first event kicks off on Sunday, November 7th 2021. Learn more here.
About San Juan National Historic Site – located on San Juan, Puerto Rico, the San Juan National Historic Site (SAJU) includes Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Castillo San Cristóbal, Fort San Juan de La Cruz (El Cañuelo), San Juan Gate, and most of the City Wall. SAJU is the only National Park Service (NPS) unit in Puerto Rico and a World Heritage Site. The NPS’ mission is to preserve natural and cultural resources for the education and enjoyment of this and future generations. During this and next year the City of San Juan as well as SAJU will be conducting activities in celebration of the 500 year anniversary of the centenary city and “Pleneando en el Castillo San Cristóbal” will be one of these events presented monthly for the understanding, education and enjoyment of Puerto Rico’s culture.
About La Casa de la Plena – La Casa de la Plena is a community and cultural center created and managed by plena practitioners on the island of Puerto Rico. It is a space, located within the Taller Comunidad La Goyco (Santurce, Puerto Rico) that offers opportunities to practice, study, research and grow within the Afro-Puerto Rican plena musical expressions. Launched in May of 2021, La Casa de La Plena houses a collection of original art, photographs, instruments, albums and literature related to la plena as well as tapestries and other research materials generated by the anthropologist and plenero Ramón López. The space is organized by Héctor “Tito” Matos.
About the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) –A leading non-profit in the field, the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) is dedicated to the presentation and documentation of folk and traditional arts in the U.S. Stressing excellence and authenticity, the NCTA presents the nation’s finest traditional artists in major festivals, tours, concerts, workshops, demonstrations, exhibitions, media productions, school programs, cross-cultural exchanges and other activities. It works in partnership with American communities to establish new, sustainable traditional arts events that deliver lasting social, cultural and economic benefits. Over 7,000 hours of the NCTA’s archival audio recordings dating from the 1930s are permanently housed at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. The NCTA champions the interests of folk and traditional artists and organizations in the arena of public policy. https://ncta-usa.org
For more information about NCTA and our work with the National Park Service, visit: https://ncta-usa.org/national-park-service/. For more information about the San Juan National Historic Site, visit https://www.nps.gov/saju/index.htm . To learn about Hector Matos and La Casa de la Plena, visit here.