Born: July 14 Primary Instrument: Piano
There is always a sense of exhilaration associated with a musical artist whose time has come. When all those years of study, practice, performance and dedication reach a point of manifestation. This is precisely the case with pianist Brenda Hopkins Miranda, whose latest effort “Recuerdos de Granada” has caused quite a commotion in the Puerto Rican music scene. This is in recognition of a steady and brilliant career which has gained momentum with inspiring results.
A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Brenda Hopkins Miranda is the consummate musician, having excelled as pianist, composer, arranger, improviser, band leader, writer and educator. She holds a Bachelors degree in Classical Piano from the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico, a Masters degree in Contemporary Improvisation from New England Conservatory in Boston, and completed Doctoral Studies in Musicology from the Universidad de Granada in Spain. From 2003-2006 Hopkins Miranda was appointed Director of the Music Program of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. She has also been on the staff at the Inter American University Metropolitan Campus, where she taught improvisation, piano, harmony and other courses. She has been an active mentor in master classes, seminars and workshops at diverse institutions and taught privately. As an academic author her music related articles have been published in various newspapers and magazines.
Having grown up with the magical blend of rhythms and melodies which encompasses Puerto Rican music, she developed her innate talent and expanded her repertoire to include Caribbean, Latin American,with authentic Spanish and flamenco influences as well. She has been active as a first call pianist for a host of Latin American artists on international tours and recording dates, and is a recognized composer and artist on soundtracks for several short films. As a bandleader Hopkins Miranda has released three recordings of original music on her BHM label: “Boricua on Board,” (1998) “Bohemia,” (1999) and her latest effort which was a culmination of her years in Spain, the 2009 release of “Recuerdos de Granada/Memoirs of Granada.”
It was while in studying in Granada, Spain that Ms. Hopkins began to seek out the nightlife and music of the city. With her background and experience, it was inevitable that she would wind up sitting in on jam sessions like those at the famed Booga Club, leading to her forming her own Latin jazz ensemble called Zona Boricua, in honor of her Puerto Rican roots. This opened up more venues of engagement as in the ancient Albayzin part of the city, where she teamed up with Raiz and Duende a local flamenco dance show known locally as tablao, and her immersion into this classical Spanish art form was complete. Then the music took over.
Over the next two years she continued to hone her skills and absorb the flamenco culture while concentrating on composing and forming the ideas which would lead to “Recuerdos de Granada/Memoirs of Granada.”
Upon her return to Puerto Rico she set out to assemble the musicians for the recording project and in June of 2009 went into the studio to make this a realization of a purpose. This record would be not only her own reminisces of her time in Granada, but a way to show appreciation and gratitude to those she encountered, assisting, and encouraging her on her musical sojourn in the city.
In her own words:
If I was asked to classify my music I would say it is a self- portrait on which I try to express the incidences of my life. My musical work has always been the continuous search and development of a personal sound that does not subscribe to any specific genre but is influenced by many. Absolutely everything I live and listen to is lodged in my musical soul, threading within the notes that will come out through my fingers. The love and passion I feel for music leads me on inner and outer pilgrimages during which I must navigate with absolute presence. I simply try to live profoundly, be authentic, create honest music that offers something positive to the people that come in contact with it, and share my experiences with others.
Source: James Nadal
“Pianista, educadora, compositora, arreglista y persona largamente vinculada al quehacer cultural del pais, Brenda Hopkins Miranda es una de nuestras jazzistas más destacadas. Ahora acaba de añadir a su resumé una página luminosa, cargada de originalidad y sentimiento.
Sin abandonar su estilo -frecuentemente percusivo e intenso, y con frases o patrones melódicos que casi hipnotizan por su insistencia- Brenda Hopkins ha incorporado a su obra una gran tradición musical, de la manera más natural y orgánica posible. Y de paso, nos brinda una de las mejores grabaciones de jazz que se han hecho en el pais.” -Rafael Vega Curry-El Nuevo Dia, San Juan
“Brenda Hopkins, one of the island’s most widely acclaimed and innovative Latin jazz pianists, arrangers and composers, draws on her life experiences to express herself through her music. The result is her newest album “Recuerdos de Granada/Memoirs from Granada”, which fuses Latin jazz and Middle Eastern sounds with flamenco. …seductive, and upbeat production is comprised of 12 originals that alternate between fast-slow tempos and rhythmic plays as well as mood swings.” -Ian Malinow- Puerto Rico Daily Sun