Etienne Charles “San Juan Hill: A New York Story” is an immersive multimedia work with Jazz music, visuals, and first-person accounts about San Juan Hill, the Indigenous, Black and Latin neighborhood that was redeveloped into Lincoln Center.
The New York Philharmonic is showing that it is more than a Classical orchestra. It can be inclusive and innovative. It can do things that have never been done before. It can be its own critic in a positive way. These are marks of greatness, and very New York City!
Etienne Charles “San Juan Hill: A New York Story”
Etienne Charles “San Juan Hill: A New York Story,” with his band Creole Soul and the New York Philharmonic, premieres in the Wu Tsai Theater at David Geffen Hall on Saturday, October 8, 2022 at 2pm & 8pm. Choose-What-You-Pay starting at $5. nyphil.org 🇹🇹🇵🇷🇺🇸
San Juan Hill
Architecturally-speaking, New York City eats its own children. It’s always renewing itself. You can leave for a couple years, come back and not recognize the place.
Lincoln Center was built from 1962-68. At the time, San Juan Hill was New York City’s largest African American community.
The Broadway musical and film “West Side Story” is set in the neighborhood. The Steven Spielberg version of the film has very spooky images of what it was like to live through the demolition. It was post-apocalyptic.
Charles is a big thinker.From his title, we think he is saying that this isn’t just a West Side Story, it’s an all-New York story. It’s the story of us.
Etienne Charles is a Trinidad-born Jazz trumpeter and composer. He’s a Guggenheim Fellow who has been written into the U.S. Congressional Record for his musical contributions. @etiennejazz @riddimbrassmas etiennecharles.com
Trinidad is Very Multicultural
Charles’ Trinidadian heritage gives him a unique cultural perspective.
Trinidad & Tobago is one of the most multicultural places in the Caribbean, and one of the forges of Caribbean culture. It was Indigenous Taíno-Carib. The Spanish came in 1498.
During the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804), French and Haitians migrated to Trinidad (and New Orleans, and everywhere else in the Caribbean). Trinidad Carnival is the “Mother of Caribbean Carnival.” We weren’t allowed to participate in French Mardi Gras celebrations., so we made our own fun at home, mostly mocking the French.
The English came in 1797. They brought East Indian workers. Today Trinidadians with an East Indian heritage are the country’s largest community. That’s why we have that good Caribbean curry.
After abolition in 1833, we were finally free to celebrate our own traditions and Trinidad Carnival was born. It’s the model for Carnivals around the world. Rio Carnival started around 100 years later. New York Carnival, West Indian Day Parade is New York’s version of Trinidad Carnival. Carnival and Latin Music and Jazz are all related.
We are all that, and call ourselves “Creole,” just like they do in New Orleans.