Cascada de Flores is an ensemble dedicated to the exploration, preservation and dissemination of Mexican and Caribbean traditional music and dance. Arwen Lawrence (voice) and Jorge Liceaga (guitar) are the creative force behind Cascada de Flores, celebrated for their heartfelt and authentic approach to old classics from Mexico and the Caribbean (ranchera, bolero, guaracha) weaving in traditional poetic dance music from the countryside (son). Since its inception in 1999, this duet thrives in collaboration with like-minded artists such as Sabra Weber (voice, flute), Jorge Mijangos (guitars), Rick Flores (guitar), Miguel Govea (accordion, trumpet, bass), Saul Sierra-Alonso (bass), Brian Rice (percussion), Marco Diaz (piano, trumpet) and Cynthia Holberg (voice).
This combination of artists from vastly different backgrounds has entertained while educating people of all ages and languages: from concert halls like the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, NM to community arts centers such as La Pena and the Freight and Salvage of Berkeley; from a 7:00 am concert/sing-along for day laborers at the Graton Labor Center to getting elderly latinos up to dance at the 30th Street Senior Center in San Francisco - the music they play resonates deeper than where differences lie.
"A dream from which you have no desire to return" Sing Out! Magazine
The sound of Cascada de Flores echoes the golden radio age of Latin America, where jazzy bolero and earthy traditions from the countryside were joyously juxtaposed. Offering elegant beauties from the lengua espanola as in casual conversation they make something seemingly foreign or distant, accessible and vibrant. You "learn the roots while listening to experts play music they clearly love. The result is rich, delicate, and lovely." (Sing Out Magazine)
Duo Cascada de Flores:
Arwen's special attention to poetry, emotion and phrasing has won her acclaim as one of the favorite interpreters of Mexican song and bolero of her contemporaries. The Los Angeles Times declared her song as "one of the most authentic moments of the evening, performed with such loving purity that it stayed with the audience long after the curtain fell." Jorge Liceaga carries her with unique expertise, drawing from his mixed heritage of Bibriesca, syncopated Yucatecan bolero and the flamenco art tradition. The duet performs with humor and grace, on a dizzying number of traditional instruments, such as tres cubano, guitarra de son and jarana of Veracruz, vihuela, accordion, donkey's jaw bone and percussive dance.
In their debut album "Mexico" (2001. "13 Historias" 2009), the group explored diverse musical traditions of Mexico such as cancion ranchera, son huasteco, gusto, trova and bolero. Their second CD, "Puente a la Mar" (2002) "to bridge the sea", tells the story of music makers of Cuba, Mexico and Puerto Rico, and the exchange of their musical ideas in the early 1900s. Song styles include traditional trova, son cubano, and bolero. In 2003, the group traveled to the Gulf of Mexico to study son jarocho - the traditional music, dance and poetry of Veracruz' countryside. In 2004, with the assistance of a grant from Arts International, they returned to Veracruz to dig deeper into the son jarocho tradition and subsequently traveled to Cuba, where they met with masters of trova in Santiago de Cuba. "Mi Sueno" (2007), is the fruit of these experiences. "13 Historias" (2009), "13 stories", is a re-issue of their debut album, which includes two new pieces in homage to Mexico as their muse: Flor de Anis, an original composition in the old danza style, and Las Olas de la Laguna, an a cappella arrangement of the traditional mariachi son repertoire.
Cascada de Flores delights in creative collaborations, recording projects, community outreach activities and in-school programs and workshops. The ensemble has seen triumphant performances in venues such as the Zocalo of Mexico City, The Festival of Cuarto Viernes in Tezoatlan, Oaxaca, the International Festival of Trova "Pepe Sanchez" in Santiago de Cuba and Albuquerque's National Hispanic Center. Cascada has toured the performing arts venues of the western and central United States receiving multiple standing ovations and excitement from all ages and cultures. The ensemble has thrived from collaborations with other artists and local organizations such as Larry Reed's Shadowlight Theater, Roberto Borrell's Orquesta La Moderna Tradicion, Ensambles Ballet Folklorico de San Francisco and the San Francisco Silent Film Festival (for which Cascada arranged the score and accompanied live the 1917 Mexican silent film "Tepeyac").