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.
- Fundación Nacional para la cultura popular: Lito Peña
- Oficina de Servicios Legislativos de la Asamblea Legislativa de PR: AN ACT To declare and establish that the 17th day of July of every year shall be the “Day of Excellence in the Development of the Puerto Rican Endeavor,” on occasion of commemorating the birthday of maestro and ex-director of the Puerto Rico State Band, Don Angel “Lito” Peña
- Angel Lito Pena Plaza
- Lito Peña in the database of Find a Grave (English)
- Lito Peña at Allmusic (English)
- Lito Peña at Discogs (English)
|ALTERNATIVE NAMES||Peña Plaza, Angel|
|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||Puerto Rican saxophonist, band leader, composer and arranger|
|DATE OF BIRTH||July 17, 1921|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Humacao|
|DATE OF DEATH||June 9, 2002|
|Place of death||San Juan|