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Romero Convo Sets BC ''On Fire''

Thursday night, September 20, left many convo-goers breathless as Paraguayan harpist Ramon Romero took the stage, along with Latin percussionist Carlos Caro and guitarist/vocalist Rafael Manriquez.

Romero 'plucked' his way into the hearts of the audience.

A tempest of notes, disjointed yet somehow compatible, were artfully woven within a steadily increasing pace of melodic complexity as they sprinkled over the crowd like a warm Paraguayan rainfall. Slight undertones of jazz were wrapped in Spanish flair and an enveloping sound left the auditorium in silence and awe until applause erupted after the first song, “Misionera.”At this point, it seemed as though the crowd had become aware that they were witnessing something special, a musical trek through a richly colorful cultural experience.

For the sake of the music itself, the stage presence was kept simple with no flash or overbearing flair. Paraguayan harpist Romero and his ensemble allowed their instruments to fill the auditorium with sounds that evoked images of bodies dancing in unison, exotic beaches on far-off locales, and tales of true heartbreak and over-ebbing joy.

Mid-performance, as Caro kept time on a drum of hand-carved wood and aged traditions, vocals picked up to evoke a heartfelt tale, whilst barriers of communication melted with every passing note. As the tempo beautifully hastened, the crowd began to clap in unison, demonstrating how music can be a language universally understood--a tool to foster unity.

During a particularly heartfelt moment, Manriquez feverishly plucked the strings of his guitar as if they were the strings of his own heart, seemingly playing in earnest remembrance of some fond yet painfully distant memory. Soon, the harp played the role of a sympathetic ear, adding a joyous and gentle chorus of solace, Romero’s fingers bringing to life the gorgeous instrument that he cradled between his hands.

As each song constructed its own unique identity, members of the crowd could be seen tapping their feet, clapping their hands, and in Berea College tradition it was only a matter of time before students took to the floor in dance and celebration, only to end the performance with a call for an encore and a riotous standing ovation. The night was truly set ablaze by Ramon Romero’s “Strings of Fire.”

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