Musical performances in Los Angeles are a clear representation of the city’s diversity. From the raw and spicy beats of the tropics to the precise and inspirational sounds of classical compositions, 2011 was music to LA residents’ ears, and it was all thanks to the brilliant minds of its local artists and the unending support of their admirers.

Oscar Hernandez: 2011 Best Tropical Latin Album Grammy Award Winner

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A transplant from New York since 2006, Oscar Hernandez is now a resident of Granada Hills, Calif. He is the leader and musical director of the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, a band steeped in the traditional sounds of New York Salsa from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Hernandez received the 2011 Best Tropical Latin Album Grammy Award for Viva La Tradicion (Long Live the Tradition) for which he was the producer, musical director, and pianist. This was Hernandez and his band’s second Grammy. The first was awarded in 2005 for the record Across 110th Street. “I am extremely proud that my music can be considered the best of its kind,” says Hernandez.

(credit: Dena Burroughs)

The Conga Room at LA Live is a strong supporter of local and visiting musical talent. Visas, permits and other immigration hassles did not dissuade the venue from including in its 2011 calendar bands like Cuba’s worldwide famous Los Van Van and Puerto Rico’s El Gran Combo. The Conga Room also hosted an extensive variety of up and coming homegrown talent. A preferred spot for the Nokia Theatre and Staples Center’s after-parties, the Conga Room is the place to be while in downtown Los Angeles.

Few theater houses in Los Angeles are as gorgeous as the Pantages Theatre. Situated in the heart of Hollywood, the Pantages brought a long list of musical theater to the city this year, including “West Side Story,” “Rain,” “Spring Awakening” and “Shrek the Musical.” The Pantages will be sending off 2011 and welcoming the New Year in style with an 8-week run of the popular musical, “Wicked.”

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Located at Griffith Park, the Autry is a history and arts center dedicated to sharing the stories and experiences of the diverse peoples of the American West. Included in the Autry’s calendar of year round events are art exhibits, poetry readings, theater performances and family activities. Most popular at the Autry is its “Sizzling Summer Nights,” which features live music and dancing held in the center’s courtyard every Thursday during the summer months. July and August of this year saw warm evenings that praised the sounds of mambo, cha-cha and Afro-Cuban beats performed by some of the best musicians LA has to offer.

(credit: Dena Burroughs)

Cal Phil’s Summer Concert Series at Arboretum

The California Philharmonic Summer Concert Series of 2011 saw beautiful sunbathed afternoons at the Los Angeles Arboretum filled with the sounds of “Phantom of the Opera,” “Evita,” and “The Sound of Music.” Led by the charismatic Victor Vener, Cal Phil’s concerts provide the listeners with more than just beautiful music—they offer an educational experience where viewers can learn about composers and their work. 2012 is bound to see even more impressive concerts at Cal Phil’s new home, the Santa Anita Track.

Dena Burroughs lives in Azusa, CA. She is a CSULA graduate with specialties in Creative Writing and Communications. She is also the LA Arts Examiner.

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