The Master of Music degree option in Afro-Latin Music provides advanced student musicians the opportunity to learn traditional as well as contemporary Latin styles and to hone their skills as performers, composers and arrangers. Students take courses including the History of Afro-Latin Music, Advanced Arranging for Afro-Latin Ensembles, and Seminars in Afro-Latin Music.
An essential part of this program is performing in the Cal State LA Afro-Latin Ensemble and in the Latin Percussion Ensemble. Within this setting, students will perform music from the major musical cultures of Latin America including Cuba, Brazil, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. They will also benefit from the experience of appearing at concerts and festivals.
Students enrolled in the Afro-Latin Music have participated in a variety of master classes and lectures from prominent musicologists and musicians, such as Olavo Alen, Joaquin Betancourt, Rigoberto Lopez, Bobby Shew, and Los Muñequitos de Matanzas.
An audition is required for admission into the M.M. in Afro-Latin Music. Candidates may audition on voice, violin, flute, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, vibraphone, guitar, piano, Latin percussion, drumset, and arranging and composition.
The Cal State LA Afro Latin Ensemble is dedicated to the study, practice, and performance of Afro Latin music. The ensemble has established itself as one of the most exciting student music ensembles of its kind in the nation. It is open to qualified Cal State LA students by audition.
The Cal State LA Afro Latin Ensemble has performed with many guest artists of international stature including Pablo Menendez, Orestes Vilato, Frank Emilio Flynn, Edgardo Cambon, Gonzalo Chomat, Adonis Puentes, and Fausto Cuevas among many others. In 2008 the Cal State LA Afro Latin Ensemble began an annual event to highlight the contributions of great Afro Latin musicians. Featured for the premiere event was famed Salsa pianist Larry Harlow in a concert that included an array of Salsa performers. The 2009 Gala Concert played to a crowd of over 800 enthusiastic fans in the Luckman Center on November 21st. The concert featured a return appearance by Larry Harlow for the first ever live performance of his famed “Salsa Suite.” Among the featured performers were famed percussionist Guillermo “Memo” Acevedo, vocalist Iris Sandra Cepeda, percussionist Joaquin Arteaga, and the featured vocalist for the Salsa Suite, Adonis Puentes.
As a result of 2008 and 2009 Afro Latin Ensemble concerts honoring Larry Harlow, eager fans and supporters contributed to establish the Larry Harlow Fund for Afro Latin Music Study at California State University, Los Angeles. The fund supports the Latin music study programs at California State University, Los Angeles. The Afro Latin Ensemble has also been invited to perform in Beijing, China in August 2010 at the International Society for Music Education World Conference.