Ensamble Gurrufío

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Ensamble Gurrufío
Ensamble Gurrufío.JPG
(left-right) Juan Ernesto Laya, David Peña, Cheo Hurtado, and Luis Julio Toro.
Background information
Origin Caracas, Venezuela
Genres Venezuelan folk music
Years active 1984–present
Labels Sony Music, Independent
Associated acts Serenata Guayanesa, Camerata Criolla, Great Marshal of Ayacucho Symphony orchestra, Moisés Torrealba, Alexis Cárdenas, Ofelía del Rosal
Website www.ensamblegurrufio.com.ve
Members Cheo Hurtado
Luis Julio Toro
David Peña
Juan Ernesto Laya
Past members Cristóbal Soto

The Ensamble Gurrufío is a celebrated quartet dedicated to the research, arrangement and reinterpretation of Venezuelan instrumental music. Their approach has to do with a new, classically-schooled, educated style, but allowing for improvisation as a fundamental element, leaving ample room for the spontaneous, the unexpected, the ability to extract the most from the virtuosity of each one of its members, resulting in unique and hardly repeatable performances.


The Ensamble Gurrufío was founded on 1984 by three young musicians, Luis Julio Toro (flute), Cristóbal Soto (mandolin), and Cheo Hurtado (cuatro). David Peña (bass) completed the quartet in 1989. All of the four are academy musicians and teachers with considerable background as soloists and performers. The group immediately became well known for their lively persona, instrumental virtuosity, and sense of humor. Their mood can vary from rigorous and solemn, up to festive and hilarious, a quality greatly enjoyed by the public when they perform live. A fifth member, Juan Ernesto Laya (maracas ) joined the ensemble since 1998, when Cristóbal Soto moved to a permanent residence in France. The group has occasionally incorporated additional members, such as Jaime Martínez (oboe) and Moisés Torrealba (bandola). The ensemble has performed in collaboration with other celebrated Venezuelan groups, such as Serenata Guayanesa, the Camerata Criolla, and the Great Marshal of Ayacucho Symphony orchestra. Similarly, they have recorded together with acclaimed foreign musicians like Bela Fleck, among others. The reason why this ensemble is regarded as among the most important of the genre lies not only in their virtuosity, but also in their contemporary sense, expressed through the urban traditional genre of Venezuelan music. Gurrufio conserves the romanticism, the melancholy and the “cool” sense of the Venezuelan instrumental tradition, and at the same time adopts present-day harmony and rhythm. Improvisation is exploited to the maximum, always resulting in exceptionally pleasant renditions.

Repertoire and Style[edit]

Gurrufío’s repertoire, comprising works of yesterday and today, and often including their own original compositions, is enriched by the individual musical sense of each member. Their live performances and recordings are characterized by the addition of long-forgotten pieces, rescued through research and interaction with other scholars experienced in Venezuelan music.

In their works, sparkling, romantic, affectionate, lyric, and virtuoso passages flow and coexist effortlessly. Gurrufio resists to be placed in a category. Their graceful and refreshing style does not truly belong to folklore, or to classical music, or to jazz, or to new age. What they offer is a versatile, multi-faced contemporary instrumental music, deeply rooted in the Venezuelan tradition. To be able to watch them performing live is a unique and most enjoyable experience.


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