Summer 2015 – A Kew-ban holiday

Sun cream? check.
Passport? check.
Beach towel? check.
Calling all passengers, please board now for our Latin American special edition of the Kew (ban) Music Academy and enjoy our musical selection.

La Cucaracha

The “Cockroach song” was particularly popular a 100 years during the Mexican revolution when the lyrics took a more political evolution:

And here’s how 2 gifted violinists made it a musical duel during last year’s Proms:

Mexican Hat Dance

Often dubbed as the unofficial National Anthem, this 200 years old folk song is a favourite of the concert hall and has been revamped many times with the likes of James Last, Andre Rieu and even The Simpsons! The dance itself is taught in primary schools in America. Here’s the 2 hours long version for you to practice your moves!


A Spanish love dance written 130 years ago by French composer George Bizet. The tune is one of the most famous Arias in the world and regained popularity in the 80’s when the opera Carmen was adapted for several movies. The melody is based on a descending chromatic scale. Most of you will remember the version sung by Will.I.Am in recent finals of The Voice:

Some of you might prefer the more traditional interpretation by diva Maria Callas with the orchestra performing a small medley of the songs from the opera as an introduction. Can you spot how the tune goes from minor to major?


Perhaps the most famous tangos written by Argentinian composer Astor Piazolla 41 years ago, this “freedom tango” has inspired many artists and has been adapted in various orchestrations. The intoxicating melody was also covered by singer Grace Jones in the 80’s. Our version is a translation of the 2 pianos version:
Here’s the Berlin Philarmonic featuring Russian accordion player Aydar Gaynullin:

Night in Tunisia

Written by Jazz trumpeter and Bebop king Dizzy Gillespie in the 1940’s, the song feature arabic scales and Afro-Cuban rhythms. It has been adapted in all sorts of ways and remains a classic on the Jazz Club scene. Filmed at the Royal Festival Hall in 1989, the clip below displays 79 years old Dizzy’s amazing talent alongside some of the world’s leading Jazz musicians including Arturo Sandoval (trumpet) Paquito D’Riveira (sax/clarinet), James Moody (sax/flute) and Danilo Perez (piano).


Composed by Brazil’s national treasure Antonio Carlos Jobim, “Favela” features the revolutionary Bossa-Nova rhythm embraced by the Americas in the 1960’s. Although a lesser known tune from the Jobim songbook, “Favela” is a perfect vehicle for young Jazzers to improvise. Here’s the version recorded by Jazz Diva Ella Fitzgerald:

Tico Tico (no Fuba)

Written a 100 years ago by Brazilian composer Zequinha de Abreu, Tico Tico is a Choro (urban popular lament) about a sparrow and raises a smile everywhere it is played. Here’s the Chicago Symphonic Orchestra having fun:
We will sing the version made famous by the Andrews Sisters at the heart of the Boogie Woogie era:

London is the place for me

Last winter, a famous bear landed from darkest Peru to an iconic London train station in the hit movie “Paddington”. The soundtrack was filled with a small band playing Calypso tunes with a new version of Trinidadian Lord Kitchener’s 50’s anthem “London is the place for me”.

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