Howard Magazine - Page 15 - Highlight - Traditional rhythms

Howard Magazine
- Page 15
Highlight - Traditional rhythms

Schools (where his wife, Alba, taught Spanish) during National Hispanic Heritage Month.


The Riveras and their daughter, Xiomara, started the nonprofit a decade later and established a residency at Running Brook Elementary School. Since then, the emotional energy created by percussion instruments and Hispanic song and dance has filled venues such as Rockburn Branch Park, North Laurel Community Center and the Other Barn in Columbia.


“The rhythm, drive, energy and beating of the drum is something that moves the soul,” Rivera says.


In recent months, they’ve seen that interest blossom in workshops at Montgomery County’s Sandy Spring Museum, where they teach visitors about Puerto Rican pitorro (holiday moonshine) and dance via their ensemble, Los Hijo ’e Plena.


The first of the dance workshops “was a blast. We had no idea it was going to sell out,” says museum executive director Alison Weiss.


Meanwhile, two Howard County middle schools have applied for Howard County Arts Council grants to establish Cultura Plenera residencies in the fall.


But the nonprofit’s impact extends beyond music.


In 2017, a Cultura Plenera event at Rockburn raised $16,000 to benefit victims of Hurricane Maria, the Category 5 storm that devastated the Puerto Rico.


Island native Lyssette Cruz was among the 3,000 people who attended. Alba helped her find a teaching job at Ellicott Mills Middle School, and Riveras even invited Cruz to stay in their home until she moved into an apartment in Elkridge.


Cruz nominated the nonprofit for Heritage Award, writing that the Rivera family “breathes and lives the Puerto Rican tradition of community” by offering unconditional love and moral support.