Paquito D'Rivera

Paquito D'Rivera's Biography

Paquito D'Rivera defies categorization. A winner of multiple Grammy Awards, he is celebrated both for his artistry in Latin jazz and his achievements as a classical composer.

Born in Havana, Cuba, Paquito performed at age 10 with the National Theatre Orchestra, studied at the Havana Conservatory of Music and was a featured soloist with the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra at age 17. As a founding member of the Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna, he directed the group for two years and played both the clarinet and saxophone with the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra at the same time.

With a dedication and enthusiasm for jazz, bebop and Latin music as well as an extraordinary career as an instrumentalist, Paquito's contributions to classical music are also impressive. They include solo performances and commissions from the National Symphony Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra of St. Luke's, among others. In his passion to bring Latin repertoire to greater prominence, Paquito has successfully created, championed and promoted all types of classical compositions, including three chamber compositions recorded live in concert with distinguished cellist Yo-Yo Ma. One of these compositions, "Merengue," garnered Paquito a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition in 2004. His "The Rice and Beans Concerto" for Cello and Clarinet was commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra and is Paquito's humble tribute to the large Chinese community in La Habana, Cuba that he remembers growing up as a child and its contribution to the Cuban culture.

Paquito was the recipient of a National Medal of Arts in 2005 and a Living Jazz Legend Award from The Kennedy Center in 2007. He has received numerous other honors, including several doctorates honoris causa in music (Berklee College of Music, University of Pennsylvania, Manhattan School of Music, etc.), the Jazz Journalists Association's Clarinetist of the Year award in both 2004 and 2006, the International Association for Jazz Education President's Award and the Frankfurter Musikpreis in Germany in 2008 and the Medal of Honor from The National Arts Club in 2009. In 2010, he was named a Nelson A Rockefeller Honoree and given the African-American Classical Music Award from Spelman College. Paquito has won multiple Grammy Awards, including Best Latin Jazz Album in 2008 and 2013 (Funk Tango; Song for Maura with Trio Corrente). He also holds Latin Grammy Awards for Best Latin Jazz Album in 2003, 2011 and 2014 (Brazilian Dreams with the New York Voices; Panamericana Suite; Song for Maura with Trio Corrente); Best Classical Album in 2003 and 2005 (Historia del Soldado; Riberas); and Best Classical Contemporary Composition in 2011 ("Panamericana Suite").

Paquito has served as Artistic Director of Jazz Programming at the New Jersey Chamber Music Society, and he is Artistic Director of the famous, world-class Festival Internacional de Jazz de Punta del Este in Uruguay.

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