Courtesy of: The Morning News
Composer, musician, artist and author Juan Chabaya “Padu” Lampe turned 94 on Saturday, April 26. Each year, the island celebrates with him at his home, paying tribute to the many cultural contributions he has made to Aruba and internationally.
A free concert was also organized at the Cas di Cultura on Sunday night following his birthday by Johnny Croes of the Rufo Wever Music School. It featured a full program of some of the island’s most respected musicians and vocalists performing several of Padu’s most popular compositions.
The event was attended by many of the composer’s fans, including Prime Minister Mike Eman and his wife, First Lady Doina. Though appearing frail and recuperating from a broken hip, Padu was there with his daughter, Vivien, to thoroughly enjoy the show and receive well wishes from all the audience.
Juan Chabaya “Padu” Lampe is perhaps best known as the co-composer, with Rufo Wever, of Aruba’s national anthem “Aruba Dushi Terra,” – “Sweet Land Aruba.” The song was not originally written to be the national anthem, and is a rhythmic waltz, a signature work of Padu.
In the mid-seventies, when a committee was attempting to decide on a national song for the island, the popular piece was the first that came to mind, with hearty approval of the local citizenry. Good friend to Padu and another highly respected musician and composer, Lio Booi, added a few couplets, and the anthem was introduced during a ceremony on Aruba’s national day, March 18, 1976, along with the island’s own flag.
Padu’s earned his living as a representative of ALM, the Antillean airline, which allowed him to travel extensively. He was, however, very well known and appreciated for his music and piano playing, often performing free concerts throughout the region. He was particularly popular in Venezuela, where he recorded several records and CD’s, over decades, one as little as six years ago. This earned him the popular name through the region of “Padu Del Caribe.” When he was only 12 years old, one of his paintings was selected to be displayed at the Worlds Fair in New York, representing Caribbean art. Later in life, he wrote and published three metaphysical dissertations in English.
Appearing on Sunday’s concert playbill titled “A Bo So,” after one of his most popular ballads, were vocalists Gilda Fernandez and Miguel Genser in duet, Arlene Wever-Croes, Tica Giel, Rachel Kraaijvanger, Edwin Abath, Etty Toppenberg and Victor Samuel.
Since many of his waltzes, mazurkas and tumbas were written for the keyboard, his work was interpreted by pianists Albert Croes, Victor Camacho, Catherine Provance-Hanrath and Rob Rijnbout, Angelique Janssen and Jonathan Vieira, director of the Cas di Cultura.
Accompanying the performances on guitar was Mario Middendorp, with Ebby Peterson on percussion, Papito Rafael on the wiri, and Gerald Martes playing flute and saxophone. The delightful evening of Padu’s beloved music ended with the title song “A Bo So” (Only You, which he wrote as a love ballad to his wife, Daisy,) performed as a grand finale with the entire company.