Los Hijo ‘e Plena
The high-energy, percussion-driven sounds of Puerto Rican bomba y plena are alive and well in Maryland thanks to Los Hijo ‘e Plena, the performance ensemble of Cultura Plenera, a nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading awareness of these distinctive musical traditions. These closely related forms reflect the island’s African heritage and provide a touchstone for Puerto Rican identity. Bomba has roots in the celebrations of enslaved Africans on the island’s sugar plantations, while plena is known as “the sung newspaper” for incorporating daily news alongside political commentary. In 2019, Cultura Plenera received a Maryland Heritage Award from the Maryland State Arts Council. Several ensemble members, all past participants in the Maryland Traditions Apprenticeship Program, are also leading bomba demonstrations in the festival’s Maryland Traditions Family Folklife Area.