The BYU–Hawaii Salsa Orchestra brought together students and community amidst the stresses of final’s week for a free concert, led by Darren Duerden on Nov. 29 in the McKay Auditorium.
Breanne Barrett, a freshman studying art from Colorado, said “I went with my friends from university choir and ended up staying for the whole thing and thought it was fantastic. The music they played was relatable and fun, it was recognizable but also different. It was just the fun I needed during such a stressful time. They put a Latin style to the pieces, which was exciting.”
The concert included styles of rumba, salsa, bachata, soca, and more, paired with pop songs from Bruno Mars to Latin ballads by Emilio Estefan.
Another freshman, Isaac Brooks, a music major from Indiana, also said, “I did go to the Salsa Orchestra performance, and I thought it was really great, one of my favorite concerts all year. It was a lot of fun.”
“Sister Duerden likes to say the salsa orchestra is one of the most professional groups on campus, a sentiment I agree with,” continued Brooks. “I don’t know enough about Latin music or culture to know exactly what the Latin twist was, but everything was good.”
The implementation of Latin influence on musical pieces that were originally more pop or folk songs, as well as the inclusion of songs originally meant to be Latin, received mixed opinions.
Missy Lund, a freshman from Maryland studying marine biology, shared her opinion, “I just walked by and had nothing else to do. It was awesome to take a break from studying and have so much fun. At first, the twist they put on the pop songs wasn’t my favorite, but I gave it a chance and it was worth it.”
While some members of the audience enjoyed the emphasis on Latin style, others preferred the original works. Barrett said she “was pleasantly surprised by the music because I wasn’t expecting to recognize most of the music. They made me enjoy a different style than I would usually listen to.”
Lund observed, “It would have been cool to include more styles. I kind of wish they would have just played all the songs traditionally.”
The concert itself was just as unique as the music presented, Barrett shared. “I liked it when one of the singers invited the audience to come up and dance. Getting students involved made it more enjoyable, especially in the setting. It was casual and unexpected.”
“The best part was when everyone started dancing. It was just spontaneous. It is rare that there is so much involvement from the audience and the performers,” Lund added.
Even for those who did not dance themselves, the environment was enjoyable, Brooks remarked. “I loved the people dancing, even though it wasn’t for me. It was nice to see people having a good time.”
The crowd itself was filled up over half of the McKay Auditorium, with most of the spectators being faculty and students.
Brooks continued, “I kind of went to support friends, but mostly I just go to everything I can. I don’t have a favorite section, they all had things that I liked. Overall I really liked it.”
Barrett, on the other hand, shared, “I didn’t go to support friends, I just enjoy concerts. My dad was a music major so going to the orchestra felt like home.”