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After a successful performance of Tres Vidas last fall, the Core Ensemble returns virtually with a free performance of Los Valientes (the courageous ones) . The Core Ensemble promotes intercultural understanding, explores social justice through artistic expression; provides education programs and offers emotionally impactful cultural experiences that spark conversation and inspire actions that make a difference in promoting equality for all.

Los Valientes is a music theatre production for solo actor and trio (cello, piano, and percussion), explores the artistic and political passions of Diego Rivera, the unwavering commitment to human rights of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero and the pursuit of social justice by Mexican American desperado Joaquín Murrieta. Los Valientes is written by José Cruz González. The music for Los Valientes features songs and concert/vernacular music by a wide range of Latin American composers including Astor Piazzolla and Osvaldo Golijov.

**Special Post-show Discussion**
On January 28th at 6pm, we will be collectively streaming Los Valientes and inviting viewers to a post-show discussion with the artistic director/percussionist, Michael Parola, and actor, David Pérez-Ribada.

Free but registration is required. Performance is in English with few words in Spanish. Subtitles are not available.

Meet the Latin American Figures

Diego Rivera is one of the most celebrated artists of all time. Born in Guanajuato, Mexico in 1886, Rivera and his family moved to Mexico City. From an early age he showed promising artistic talent. At 12 years of age Rivera enrolled full-time at the San Carlos Academy of Fine Arts. He trained for many years until 1906 when he was awarded a travel grant to Europe to study classical art, ancient art, and the new art movement known as Cubism. The time spent in European countries, including Spain, France, and Belgium, was influential to his growth as an artist. He met many famed artists, including Picasso, Braque, and Gino Severini, among others.

Rivera eventually returned to Mexico in 1921 and became involved with the communist party and other local politics, this often serving as the inspiration and subject of his artwork. He also married the painter Frida Kahlo, with whom he had an intense and tumultuous marriage that lasted until her death in 1954. Rivera’s murals were exhibited in U.S. cities and sites, the Museum of Modern Art being the most celebrated example. Rivera continued to paint murals in Mexico and around the world until his death in 1957. The study of his life and art continue to this day.

Source: The Art story: Diego Rivera Life and Legacy

Oscar Romero was a Salvadoran priest who served as the fourth archbishop of San Salvador. He is celebrated for his commitment to speaking out against poverty, social injustices, violence committed by left and right-wing forces, and more. Born on August 15, 1917 in El Salvador, Romero knew from an early age that he wished to be a priest. After years spent training in seminary, he was ordained a priest in 1942 at the age of 25. For many years he maintained a conservative stance towards politics.

This changed in the 1970s when he witnessed the crippling poverty and increasing atrocities brought on by the Salvadoran government and military. Romero continually used radio broadcasts to call for peace and an end to the disappearances, injustice, and monthly killings. On March 23, 1980, while saying the evening Mass he was assassinated. Earlier that day he had implored state representatives and soldiers to end the repression that had disproportionately affected the poor. Romero’s impact did not cease when he died, however. Instead he became a martyr and a symbol of hope to Salvadorans as well as many other people facing violence in their countries.

Source: Caritas Australia: Oscar Romero Biography


Joaquín Murrieta was a Mexican miner who lived during the California Gold Rush era (1848-1855). A hero to some and menace to others, Murrieta has become a folk legend whose life has been credited as having inspired fictional vigilantes such as Zorro. Born in Mexico, he left home and joined the gold rush movement in search of the promise of wealth in California. Unfortunately he faced much discrimination and racial injustice from Anglo-Americans who did not want their chances at wealth threatened by the incoming migration of Mexicans.

As chronicled in the posthumously fictionalized novel about his life, The Life and Adventures of JM (1854), Murrieta turned to a life of banditry. He became an infamous outlaw in the California region up until his death. Murrieta was tracked down by law enforcement and beheaded. Though much is not known about the veracity of his existence, exploits, and death even, the legend of Murrieta has intrigued and inspired people for generations.

Source: Joaquin Murrieta California Outlaw, Life, and Legend

Meet the Cast and Orchestra

David has performed a wide variety of stage roles throughout the United States, including the World Premiere of Anna in the Tropics. He has appeared on the Fox TV Network as well as in several independent films. David studied acting at Florida International University and now resides on New York City.

Michael Parola received his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the State University of New York at Purchase and his Master’s and Doctor of Musical Arts Degrees from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Mr. Parola was a founding member and percussionist with the Aequalis Trio from 1984-1993 and then founded the Core Ensemble in 1993. With both ensembles he has commissioned dozens of new chamber music trios for the unique instrumental combination of cello, piano, and percussion with hundred of performances and residency programs throughout the United States and at international venues in England, Russia, Ukraine, and Australia.

Michael Parola served as percussion instructor at the Harid Conservatory of Music from 1993-1999, Florida Atlantic University from 1993-1998 and the Conservatory of Music at Lynn University from 1999-2008. In addition to his roles as Percussionist and Executive director, Mr. Parola has served since 1995 as Executive Producer for nearly a dozen Core Ensemble chamber music theatre works; unique multi-genre programs combining chamber music with narrative theatre.

José Cruz Gonázalez’s plays include Invierno, Sunsets and Margaritaas, The Heart’s Desire, The bLue House, Tomás and the Library Lady, The Cloud Gatherer, Earth Songs, and September Shoes. A collection of his plays, Nine Plays by José Cruz González Magical Realism and Mature Themes in Theatre for Young Audiences was published by the Univeristy of Texas Press in 2009. Mr. González has written for PAZ, the Emmy Award nominated television series produced by Discovery kids for the Learning Channel. Mr. González was a recipient of a 2004 TCG/Pew National Theatre Residency grant. In 1997 he was awarded a NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Programs for Playwrifhts, and in 1985 was a NEA Director Fellow. He teaches theatre at California State University at Los Angeles. He is a member of The Dramatists Guild of America and TYA/USA. He is an Associate Artist with Cornerstone Theater Company (CA), and Playwright in Residence with Childsplay (AZ).

Ju Young Lee, a native of Kansas City, Missouri, is a recent graduate of the Juilliard School, where he earned a bachelor’s degree for cello in 2013. He has studied under the tutelage of Joel Krosnick, David Soyer, and Felix Wang. He has given solo recitals and participated in chamber music performances in both the U.S. and South Korea, in cities such as New York, Seattle, Chestertown, MD, Blue Hill, ME, Brevard, NC, Steamboat Springs, CO, and Washington, D.C. He was invited as a guest soloist with the Nashville Symphony, the Curb Youth Symphony, and as a rehearsal soloist with the New York Symphonic Arts Ensemble.

As a soloist Mikael Darmanie has performed throughout the Americas, Europe, and the Caribbean. He has participated and won pries in a number of regional and international competitions. As a member of the Warp Trio, he performs throughout the country in genres from jazz to hip hop to electronic music to DJ’ing. Since his debut as a conductor with the Carolina Chamber Symphony in 2008, he has performed throughout the U.S., conducting various piano concerts from the keyboard and symphonic works. As a composer, his works have been performed throughout the U.S. and his is a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow. His is currently a Ph.D student at SUNY Stony Brook under the guidance of Gilbert Kalish and teaches undergraduate piano and music history and theory.

Watch the trailer of Los Valientes below!