Peña logo 2Farewell to Rafael Manríquez
Saturday, June 29 at 4pm
La Peña de Berkeley Community Center
3105 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley, CA 94705

Rafael Manríquez:
The Bay Area Voice of the Chilean New Song, "La Nueva Canción Chilena"

Members of La Peña de Berkeley Cultural Center, Bay Area Chileans, and the Chilean folklore community are mourning the loss of one of its respected artist--songwriter, composer, musician Rafael Manríquez. A virtuoso on the guitar and charango, his voice altered between melancholy and strength--a combination of sorrow and indignation.

Manríquez was founding member, musical director, and the lead singer of Grupo Raíz. The group was founded in 1980 with fellow Chileans Fernando (Feña) Torres, Héctor Salgado, Lichi Fuentes, Quique Cruz, and North American, Ellen Moore. His discipline for his art was also present in his academic dedication to the study of Chilean folklore. Rafael Manríquez shared the stage with renowned North American folk singers such as Holly Near and Pete Seeger.

I first met Rafael Manríquez and the members of Grupo Raíz during my teenage years, shortly after my arrival from NYC to CA, in 1980. La Peña became my hangout. I remember being in absolute awe of these very, very young Chileans that were extraordinary musicians, completely devoted to working in solidarity with the people of Chile during the early years of the Pinochet dictatorship--the dark period as I call it. A time when Chileans turned against Chileans... something that no Chilean could have ever foreseen... hard to understand to this day. Such things didn't happen in Chile, they took place in other far away countries... things like torture and people disappearing or exiled... that would never take place in this idyllic paradise... this land so far away from the rest of the world were poets seemed to rule.

As with so many artists that take their work seriously, Manríquez was completely devoted to his music--a daunting and frustrating undertaking for any creative person. He had gained acclaim in North and Central America, yet in Chile he was still unknown for much of his career. However, once the political climate in Chile gained civility, Manríquez started performing on the stages of his homeland, and it did not take long before he gained the respect of his colleagues and contemporaries, among them the acclaimed "Cueca" singer Mario Rojas. "La Cueca" is Chile's national folk dance. On December 2011, Rafael Manríquez won First Place at the "Festival del Villancico Tradicional Chileno" with his composition "Niñito Chilote."

To his friends Manríquez was Rafita... I am honored to have been his friend and to have had the privilege of experiencing those years at La Peña... that undoubtedly made me a better human being.

Following, some bits and pieces of Grupo Raíz and La Peña's history.

Paula Tejeda
Chile Lindo   
Grupo Raiz logo

Smithsonian Logo  
Grupo Raíz in performance and conversation about Nueva Canción

Smithsonian Institution 2007

In conversation with former members of Grupo Raíz at La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley, California

Grupo Ra??z in performance and conversation about Nueva Canci??n
Grupo Raíz in performance and conversation about Nueva Canción


Grupo Raiz at La Pena

Grupo Raíz with Pete Seeger at La Peña Cultural Center.

"Grupo Raíz is a great achievement for us all. It was a great honor be on stage with you."
Pete Seeger

Photo: Courtesy of Marianne Teleki and Héctor Salgado

Grupo Raíz w Holly Near

Grupo Raíz with Holly Near at La Peña Cultural Center.

"Dear Friends,
As some of you already know, Compañero Raphael Manriquez died last night in a car accident. He was musical director and lead singer of Grupo Raiz, a Chilean ensemble with whom I sang many times. Raphael was an active leader at La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley, California. As one friend of Nueva Canción said, "He suffered and survived the coup, ill health, and so much more. It seems so grossly unfair for him to be taken away from us, suddenly, by the freak cruelty of an automobile accident." I have known him for over 30 years. He played guitar for me when I recorded "War of The Flea". We traveled together to Cuba for cultural work and also met up in Chile where we sang in a song circle for EPES. I send love to all his friends and family. We are all deeply sad and I will miss him so. Holly Near
Raphael Manriquez Presente!

Photo: Courtesy of Marianne Teleki and Héctor Salgado

Grupo Raiz

From left to right, Quique Cruz, Lichi Fuentes, Rafael Manríquez, Ellen Moore, Fernando (Feña) Torres, and Héctor Salgado

Grupo Raiz album
Grupo Raíz

Grupo Raiz almbum 2
Grupo Raíz 

A poster from a Chile Lindo production for  
Rafael Manríquez and Mario Rojas at Caffé D'Melanio, July 22, 2011

Cueca Brava