By Margaret Winter
Luis Ullauri, a virtuoso singer-guitarist with a rapidly growing following in Cuenca, now has a solo show featuring classic Latin American ballads, five nights a week at Café La Joyapa, in the heart of the Historic Center.
Ullauri is known for the warmth and effortless, soaring quality of his voice, and for the charm, inventiveness and sophistication of his Baroque-style guitar arrangements.
Apart from Ullauri’s great gifts as a performer, it’s also his repertory that makes his solo show a standout in Cuenca’s musical scene. He is a uniquely gifted interpreter of classic romantic ballads from Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico, Cuba, and Spain — ballads that deserve to be treasured and continually reinterpreted as part of the world’s musical heritage.
The majority of the songs Ullauri presents are by great Hispanic composers of the 20th and 21st centuries. They include classics from the Nueva Canción and Nueva Trova movements — which were inspired by, and helped inspire, mid-twentieth century liberation movements throughout Latin America — as well as more recent popular hits.
Ullauri’s interpretations of internationally acclaimed standards are classics in their own right: for example, his unforgettable covers of “Gracias a La Vida” and “Todo Cambia,” originally made famous by the great Argentine singer Mercedes Sosa; and haunting versions of “Ojalá” and “La Maza” by revered Cuban composer Silvio Rodriguez, one of the foremost voices of the Nueva Trova movement.
Ullauri’s show also celebrates folkloric and traditional music, including Ecuadorean pasillos, which originated in the 19th century liberation struggles throughout Gran Colombia, and which are now recognized as Ecuador’s national music; and the Peruvian vals peruana, which transformed the European waltz by adapting it to Andean musical traditions.
Café La Joyapa is a rustic, candle-lit space on the second floor of of El Doblón restaurant, on Honorato Vasquez. Food and drink service, provide by El Doblón, includes a wide selection of reasonably priced Ecuadorian, Italian, and North American fare.
Luis Ullauri performs Tuesdays through Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m., at Café Joyapa, located on the second floor of El Doblón restaurant, Honorato Vasquez 6-60, between Presidente Borrero and Hermano Miguel. Dinner and drinks service provided by El Doblón starting at 6.30 p.m.Cover charge $7.
Margaret Winter, originally from Washington, D.C., has lived in Cuenca since 2016.