Robin Denselow 

Prom 24: José Hernando Arias Noguera and Egidio Cuadrado – review

A close collaboration between Noguera and his mentor Cuadrado made for a major vallenato celebration, writes Robin Denselow
  
  

It has been a remarkable week for 20-year old José Hernando Arias Noguera. Born in London to a Colombian family, he became fascinated by the accordion and its role in Colombian vallenato folk dance styles, and taught himself to play by listening to cassettes and studying clips on YouTube. Now, with help from the BBC World Routes Academy, he has been to Colombia to study with accordion master Egidio Cuadrado, and has returned as a potential celebrity. He was at this year's Womad festival, wearing a straw hat and a permanent grin, as he played with a band from Colombia's Caribbean coast. At the Proms he was on stage with Cuadrado himself.

This is the third such Prom based around a mentoring scheme, and, after an uneasy start, the project is becoming more assured each year. It's impossible to tell from a concert like this just how much a mentor has taught his pupil, but they both clearly got on well, and this was far more of a collaboration than in previous years. The concert started with a rapid-fire demonstration from Noguera, backed just by caja drum and palm-wood scraper, then on came Cuadrado for a couple of songs, backed by a band including singers, three percussionists and acoustic guitars. Then his pupil returned, and it turned into a vallenato celebration, driven on by their duelling accordions.

The majority of the audience was Colombian, and they sang along or danced as the band eased through the four different rhythms in vallenato, from the upbeat merengue of Honda Herida to the energetic La Puya Inglesa, written by Cuadrado for his pupil. The encores included a version of Hey Jude that was more entertaining than Paul McCartney's at the Olympics. It had been a great party.

Available on iPlayer until 7 August. If you're at any Prom this summer, tweet your thoughts about it to @guardianmusic using the hashtag #proms and we'll pull what you've got to say into one of our weekly roundups – or leave your comments below.

 

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