Flushing Town Hall continues mini-global mashup series with ‘Ukraine Meets Cuba’ concert

(From l. to r.) Master of the Ukrainian bandura Julian Kytasty, Havana-based singer Danae Blanco, and Grammy-nominated Cuban guitarist Juan Carlos Formell. (Photo courtesy of Flushing Town Hall)

Flushing Town Hall’s most in-demand series, Common Ground: Mini-Global Mashups, will continue its summer run with the Ukraine Meets Cuba concert on Aug. 21 at 1 p.m. 

Attendees will experience a collaboration between musicians from different countries and musical backgrounds in performance together for the first time. The performance will be followed by a Q+A conversation between the artists and the audience.

The concert will feature master of the Ukrainian bandura (a Ukrainian lute/harp), Julian Kytasty, and Havana-based singer Danae Blanco. They will be accompanied by Grammy-nominated Cuban guitarist Juan Carlos Formell. 

“We are so lucky to be able to put on these Mini-Global Mashups each month and give the fans a great show,” said Ellen Kodadek, executive and artistic director of Flushing Town Hall. “I am looking forward to our audience being able to experience the phenomenal musical talents of Julian Kytasty, Danae Blanco, and Juan Carlos Formell.”

Flushing Town Hall’s mini-global mashups series is curated by acclaimed trumpeter and composer Frank London of The Klezmatics, who himself has performed in the venue’s original, large-scale global mashups series. 

“Audiences can look forward to enjoying amazing performers whose music is tied to their traditions but simultaneously modernized and fused with other musical elements that expand their borders,” London said. 

Kytasty is one of the world’s premier players of the bandura and the instrument’s leading North American exponent. A singer, multi-instrumentalist and third-generation bandurist, Kytasty has concertized and taught instrumental and choral music throughout the Americas and Europe. 

Born in Detroit, Kytasty has a BFA in Theory and Composition from Concordia University in Montreal. Kytasty has been recognized for his expertise in epic songs and early bandura repertoire. From 1989 to 1990, Kytasty was one of the first North American-born bandurists to tour Ukraine, performing in over one hundred concerts. He has often returned to tour in Ukraine. 

In the summer of 2014, he was invited by the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine’s Shevchenko Bicentennial Project to visit sites associated with Taras Shevchenko’s life and poetry. Both his formal and impromptu concert performances were filmed for an upcoming documentary, Slidamy Shevchenka (In Shevchenko’s Footsteps).

Blanco provides a welcomed counterpoint to Cuba’s typically male-dominated timba music with her feisty delivery and enchanting lyrics. She has been credited with bringing salsa romantica into the 21st century. 

When she was younger, Blanco participated in regional choirs in the Cuban province of Sancti Spiritus. She later moved to Havana in 1985 to study music at Ignacio Cervantes College, where she became a member of the Alfredo Rodriguez Group. In 1993, Blanco joined the famous Cuban underground group 5U4, also known as “The Beatles of the Americas,” as a vocalist. She released her debut single, Pido, in 2003 and has been a mainstay in Cuban music since.

Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Formell is at the forefront of a new generation of musicians from Cuba who are redefining the parameters of Cuban music. 

A talented multi-instrumentalist, Formell has been hailed as a successor to iconic Cuban artists such as Caetano Veloso, Joao Gilberto, Jackson Browne, and Nick Drake. As a member of the Formell family, one of the most prominent musical families in Cuba, music is in his blood. Juan Carlos’ father, Juan Formell, is a bassist and the founder of the trailblazing group Los Van Van. Juan Carlos continues to carry on his family’s musical tradition masterfully.

In-person tickets for the show are $12 for Flushing Town Hall members and $15 for non-members. Those who are unable to attend in person can view the livestream for free at https://www.youtube.com/flushingtownhall/live. Donations are encouraged. 

For the Mini-Global Mashup series’ full schedule and to purchase tickets, visit: https://www.flushingtownhall.org/mini-global-mashups or call (718) 463-7700 x222.

For the venue’s full schedule of 2022 Summer and Fall  events, visit: https://www.flushingtownhall.org/events