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The Elio Villafrance Quintet performed Cuban music last night. (Justin Ren/The Daily Pennsylvanian)

Lights were off. The fire alarm was blaring. And not even that could quiet the music coming from Logan Hall on Wednesday night. Nearly 60 students, community members and professors were on hand for the kick-off of the Delaware Valley Latin American Studies Symposium, hosted by the University's Latin American Cultures Program. The event, which is in its second year, featured a discussion and performances of traditional Cuban music by two groups. Beginning the evening was a discussion and slide show by Robin Moore, a professor of music history at Temple University. The discussion centered around the history of Afro-Cuban music and its role in Cuba during the period from 1920-1940. Following the discussion was a musical performance by Maria del Pico Taylor, a Temple University professor of music. Her six-piece group played several traditional Cuban songs and featured two vocalists from the Curtis School of Music. The performance went smoothly until the fire alarm went off after the last song. And with the alarm blaring, the Elio Villafrance Quintet took the stage and began to play what they described as "the blacker side of Cuban music." The quintet played their steady fusion of jazz and Cuban music to an audience that was tapping its toes and dancing in its seats. After two songs, the University Police arrived on the scene to disengage the fire alarm. In the process, however, they turned off all of the lights in the Terrace Room. Nonetheless, the band continued to play. Eventually, the fire alarm was shut off, the lights came back on and the quintet treated the audience to a mixture of Cha-Cha-Cha's, Rhumbas and other traditional Cuban genres of music. The audience was clearly energized by the group's performance. "It was great. I really, really enjoyed the group," Penn Spanish Professor Oreida Chu-Pund said. "They gave us a great look at the history of Afro-Cuban music, and they sounded excellent." The event was the first in a series of three. The next two events will feature a lecture on "The Sounds of Spanglish" and a theater presentation by Latin Arte's Ombe Troupe. The event, sponsored by La Casa Latina and La Unidad Latina/Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity is also meant to draw attention to the University's budding Latin American Cultures Program. "We are still setting up. We are building faculty and we just moved to a new location," History Professor Nancy Farriss said. "We are hoping this event will get the word out and generate interest in the Latin American Cultures Program." The program, headed by History Professor Anne Farnsworth-Alvear, allows students to focus on the literature, politics, popular culture and history of Latin American countries.

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