Thousands of Cubans paid homage to late musician Juan Formell in concerts all across Cuba, the largest of them in Havana, where a huge crowd danced to and sang his songs.
Popular bands, instrumentalists, singers and artists in general joined the musical tribute to Formell, the founder and leader of the legendary band Los Van Van, whose former members also decided to participate in the public songfests.
In Havana, in an area near the emblematic Malecon and known for being the scene of political events and performances, the rain delayed the start of the gala by some three hours but the performances finally kicked off before a euphoric crowd.
Formell’s compositions were performed in different musical styles, by classical pianist Frank Fernandez, the children’s singing company La Colmenita and salsa groups.
The weekend concerts provided continuity to the tribute to the composer and bass player after on Friday government officials, artists, writers, friends and hundreds of fans of Los Van Van were on hand to say their last goodbyes at the National Theater, where Formell’s ashes were put on display.
Formell died unexpectedly on Thursday in a Havana hospital at age 71 due to a liver ailment that had become increasingly aggravated in recent days.
Born on Aug. 2, 1942, in Havana, Formell first studied music with his father Francisco, a flutist, pianist and arranger.
Juan Formell and Los Van Van, the orchestra he founded in 1969 and which has remained a favorite of the Cuban public ever since, received a Grammy in 1999 for his album “Llego…Van Van” and several nominations for other works.
In November 2013, Formell received a Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for Artistic Excellence.