Lito Peña

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Angel Peña Plaza ( Lito Peña ; born July 17, 1921 in Humacao , † June 9, 2002 in San Juan ) was a Puerto Rican saxophonist, band leader, composer and arranger.

Peña grew up as the fifth of nine children of Juan Peña Reyes and Bertha Plaza. As a child he learned to play the clarinet, saxophone and piano, became a member of his father's band and was organist in the church in his hometown. After serving in the US Army at the end of the 1940s, he first became a member of the orchestra of Armando Castro , then tenor saxophonist in the orchestra of Rafael González Peña . Finally, the composer César Concepción brought him into his band.

In 1954 he founded the Orquesta Panamericana with trumpeter Berto Torres and pianist Luisito Benjamin , of which he became director. This has been successful with titles such as Gracias mundo and Ay que rica es (sung by Ruth Fernández ), Teenager , Mi pueblo señorial , Es de Borinquen , La sazón de abuela , El tiburón , Te cogí ajá , El chico de Loíza Aldea and that of Víctor Mojica sung Bolero Cuando llega el amor . In addition to Fernández and Mojica, singers such as Ismael Rivera , Eladio Peguero , Chico Rivera , Gilberto Monroig , Felipe Rodríguez and Manolin also recorded with this orchestra.

In 1960 Peña founded the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico with the support of Pablo Casals , where he studied with Julián Bautista and José Castro , among others . In the mid-1960s, producer Tommy Muñiz hired his orchestra for the Show del Mediodía , which was broadcast daily on WAPA TV. The Orquesta Panamericana had other television appearances in Esto no tiene nombre and El show de Tommy . In 1979 he resigned from directing the orchestra after 25 years.

In the same year Peña composed the music for the Pan American Games on behalf of the organizers . In 1985 the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña commissioned him to lead the Banda Estatal de Puerto Rico . This appeared on many official occasions and in 2000 took part in the Festival de la Danza y la Música Coral Puertorriqueña and the Festival Artístico para Personas con Necesidades Especiales y sus Amigos . At the Festival de Castellón de la Plana in 2001 he was awarded the silver medal. Of his three children, Cuco Peña was also known as a musician.