By playing the requinto, guitar, and the Colombia tiple, he made his way from Colombia to Spain and then to the United Kingdom to play music, teach and set up musical groups. Having come to Europe practically by chance, his melodies accompany each one of his movements.
Interview and Photos by Marcos Ortiz F.
The first songs that Ubeimar Llantén performed in the United Kingdom were boleros. It was February 2013 and, as part of Valentine’s Day, he arrived at Seven Sisters after being invited to liven up an evening with his melodies.
“I had been living in Spain since 2004, but the work there was a bit in decline and there was a lot of work in London,” explains this Colombian musician from Cali.
Previously, Ubeimar had been working at Colombian cultural centres for over 20 years as a music teacher. “Moving to Spain was something that I didn’t decide. I actually missed my plane in Madrid when I went to visit a niece. It was a strange accident. I missed the flight because I was too late to check-in my luggage. It was very funny, but I didn’t expect to stay in Europe.”
After he moved to Seville, Ubeimar worked as a cultural manager. “I worked with the Colombian government doing events. I put together cultural, dance, and music groups. I also created an association called Solarte. We had a place where we exhibited almost all Latin American cultural manifestations, but we mainly focused on Colombia.
When, in 2004, he received the invitation to come to the United Kingdom, he didn’t think twice. “The issue is that in Spain to earn £600 you had to work for a month. But the day I went to work in Seven Sisters, and because the performance went well, I earned £300. Then I said to myself let’s do a test. And by doing these tests I’ve managed to stay here. In fact, I’ve been here for four years now,” he explains.
Ubeimar is not only a requinto, guitar and Colombian tiple performer but also offers vocal technique classes and puts together children’s choirs. Accompanied by a musician colleague, Ubeimar performs as part of a duet but is also able to set up quartets, sextets and orchestras depending on the client’s request. He says: “If you need a salsa or cumbia orchestra, then we will put together a salsa or cumbia orchestra.”
Aware that people want a complete experience, today Ubeimar organizes meals for special occasions like Mother’s Day, a model that has been implemented in Ecuadorian and Colombian restaurants in London. “We prepare, for example, a special meal with an hour’s serenade specifically for Mother’s Day. Mothers can also have another serenade session to listen to boleros and two hours of dance music.” Ubeimar ensures that every detail of the rice with seafood dishes, the Argentine pepper, the desserts and drinks offered to the guests is perfect.
And despite living in London today, his goal is to return to Spain where his wife and daughter live. “She stayed there because culturally Andalusians rarely go out to party. They are more rooted to family life, so they don’t go out much,” he says.
At 50, his life philosophy is simple: “I have been steadfast when facing what fate has given me. Fate doesn’t terrify me or anything. If something is difficult, then it is an experience and you should consider it as that, and see it as an opportunity to learn. ”
(Translated by Shanae Ennis-Melhado – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)