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Rogelio Ortiz, Leading Exponent of Musica Llanera, to Perform at National Folk Festival

Rogelio Ortiz
Eduardo Fermin
Juan Souki
Rogelio Ortiz currently works as a ride-share driver in Laurel, MD but he's music star in his native Venezuela.

Musica Llanera is the music of cowboys, farmers and ranchers that live and work in the rural plains of Venezuela. Rogelio Ortiz, known in his native country as el caballero del canto nacional (“the gentleman of the national song”), is the foremost practitioner of this regional style, and will be featured at the National Folk Festival.

The socio-economic instability of Venezuela in recent years has caused large segments of the population to relocate. Ortiz left his native country in 2016 and settled in Laurel, MD. He makes his living as a driver for a ride-sharing services, but also tours across the US, frequently performing for members of the Venezuelan community who long for the music of their homeland.

Musica Llanera is characterized by the percussive accents of the maracas and the shimmering sounds of harps played in conjunction with a bass and a four stringed guitar-like instrument called a cuatro. Typical dance rhythms include the festive and lively joropo style and the slower and more sultry passaje romanticos.

At the National Folk Festival, Ortiz will share the stage with a conjunto led by harpist Eduardo Betancourt.

Delmarva Public Media is grateful to Juan Souki of the Odelia music agency for facilitating and interpreting our conversation with Rogelio Ortiz, and Julia L. Gutiérrez-Rivera, Program Manager at the National Council for the Traditional Arts, for translating Rogelio Ortiz’s responses.

Peter Solomon is WESM's Music Director and host of Morning Jazz Unlimited, weekdays from 9 am to noon on WESM. He joined Delmarva Public Media in August 2021 after 22 years as a jazz host for an NPR affiliate in Richmond, Virginia.