Traditional and Ritual Music of Cuba and Brazil

Anya was formed in 1999 in the Phoenix area by folkloric percussionists Emilio Caruso and Eric Udell. Anya performs music celebrating the rich cultural heritage of both Cuba and Brazil. It is music that was originally brought to the New World by African slaves, who, through ingenuity and determination preserved their spiritual and cultural traditions. Anya is dedicated to bringing wider recognition to these compelling musical forms utilizing performance, educational seminars, and music workshops.

Emilio and Eric have both studied these musical forms passionately for many years with master drummers of this music in Cuba, Brazil, and the United States. Recently relocated to the Phoenix area, Emilio met Eric by chance at a local bookstore and realized immediately they had a common love for and dedication to this music. Shortly afterward, they began to play together, laying the foundation for the group that was to become Anya. Although this music had never been performed in Arizona, Emilio and Eric felt that if audiences were exposed to the beauty and power of this music they would find social, spiritual and aesthetic relevance.

In 2001, Emilio studied with master drummer and musical director of the Conjunto Folklorico Nacional de Cuba, Alberto Villarreal. By winning an award from the National Endowment For the Arts, administered through the Arizona Commission On the Arts, combined with Eric’s involvement in Regla de Ocha, Emilio had the opportunity to study with Eric’s Padrino, Alberto Villarreal. Months of intensive study, along with the superb teaching skills of Alberto, naturally presented a far deeper and meaningful context to all the ritual musical forms (Oro Seco, Oro Cantado, Fiesta, Arara and Palo) to which Emilio and Eric are dedicated, not only musically but religiously as well.

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