A Celebration of Puerto Rican Culture in California

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About the Festival del Cuatro

The Cuatro, Puerto Rico's national instrument, is iconic of Puerto Rican culture. It means "things Puerto Rican." The Festival del Cuatro of California is a sharing of Puerto Rican culture, through its music, with other Puerto Ricans and non-Puerto Ricans who might not otherwise have exposure to a musical tradition that is more than 300 years old.

The Festival del Cuatro of California serves as a vehicle for promoting our national instrument, traditional Puerto Rican music, and the broader Puerto Rican culture of which we are so proud. We do not do this in a narrow sense. We invite others who are not Puerto Rican to join us and to partake of this cultural feast as we seek to connect with other cultural traditions to promote understanding and better communication among all peoples.



The Festival Del Cuatro aims to highlight and celebrate Puerto Rico’s rich musical and cultural traditions by educating, entertaining, informing, and engaging the Puerto Rican community in California. We aim to promote a greater appreciation and understanding of Puerto Rican culture and build bridges to other communities in California.

The Puerto Rican Cuatro is a ten-string instrument with over 300 years of history that is used to play Puerto Rican traditional and modern music. The Festival Del Cuatro was founded in February 2005 to bring awareness of Puerto Rican culture and traditional art forms to California communities.

The Cuatro Festival aims to be an educational resource for the community and its young people.



  • Annual or Semi Annual Puerto Rican Cuatro Festival in California highlighting and celebrating Puerto Rico’s musical traditions and culture.

  • Educate, entertain, inform and engage the broader communities and the more than 100,000 Puerto Ricans in California.

  • Promote a greater appreciation of Puerto Rican Culture and build bridges to other communities.

  • Recognize the contributions made by many artists to this cultural heritage.

  • Highlight a musical tradition known as “Musica Jibara” (Music from the Mountains in Puerto Rico).

  • Feature some of Puerto Rico's finest Masters of the Cuatro and traditional artisans for an endeavor that will satisfy the most discerning music and art appreciation.

It is a wonderful cultural experience that would draw you back to your childhood and remember those days when the Cuatro and traditional/ folkloric Puerto Rican music was the main instrument and music heard in Puerto Rico.

"El Cuatro Es Mi Bandera"
by José Vadi

Now for the fourth year, a group of Puerto Ricans in California has been working to create the Festival del Cuatro as a cultural event in our region. We have undertaken this task because there are over 150,000 Puerto Ricans in California and we lack a visible presence here. As Latinos who are U.S. citizens, we can serve as a bridge to other Latino communities and the broader population of the state. In our view, our wonderful musical culture provides an excellent means to achieve these goals. The cuatro, our national instrument, serves as an icon of our unique culture and we propose to reach out to others in ways that are uplifting and educational.

For Puerto Ricans, the Festival can become a way to unify us through our culture. It becomes a vehicle for educating our children who might be losing or who might have lost links with our culture. With a greater visible presence in California, and with greater unity, we might then be able to tackle other issues of concern to us and to other Latinos in California. Whatever our political positions might be, we are linked to one another by our wonderful culture and this culture is relatively unknown in California or is distorted.

In addition to these very important goals, we also just want to have some fun and to get to know one another. What Puerto Rican does not like the sound of a well-played cuatro accompanied by guitar, guiro, and percussion? The sounds of this music take each one of us to different places. It might remind us of our parents or of neighborhood groups playing on street corners, or of parrandas at Christmas. Others might associate it with the smell of coffee (Bustelo, Yaucono) being made with a colador at family gatherings at the kitchen table. One musician replied, when asked what the cuatro meant to him, "El cuatro es mi bandera." To some of us, this might be a bit of a "stretch" and yet it rings true as we identify the instrument with "things Puerto Rican."

Board of Directors

nadaRoberto Rivera


Born in Newark, New Jersey. His parents moved to Puerto Rico when he was 6 months old. He grew up in Bayamon and attended Mennonite Academy and Wesleyan Academy, private Christian schools in Guaynabo, PR.  He started his university studies in Recinto Universitario de Mayaguez, later transferring to Rutgers University in New Jersey at the age of 21. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from Rutgers University and began his career in the science field.  He received three grants from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, in the Folk Arts Apprenticeship program. With these grants Roberto apprenticed with a Nationally recognized instrument builder to learn the art of making the Puerto Rican Cuatro. He's worked on instruments for Yomo Toro, Edwin Colon Zayas, Alvin Medina, Nicholas Radina and many other famous musicians and performers. When not at work he is busy enjoying his family, building Cuatros and other Latin American instruments, and serving as President of the Festival del Cuatro organization.


nadaAjée Ortiz

Vice President

Although her family originates from Ponce, Puerto Rico and Toulouse, France, San Diego is where she calls home. An avid reader with a passion for knowledge; majoring first in Psychology then settling on a Nursing career with a specialty in Oncology. Aje is a huge advocate for human and animal rights, using her abilities to raise awareness for those without a voice via local and international organizations. Growing up in a house full of music, singing and dancing, she has always had a love for the arts. With that love, she co-founded and is on the board of directors for the festival del Cuatro, where she continues to help bring our rich cultural heritage to Southern California.


Photo coming soonJames Howard


Jim has been with the Festival Del Cuatro organization since 2005. He has formed an integral part of the group as project manager and overall event collaborator and consultant. Jim serves as part of the board and as officer of the organization he leads as secretary for the Festival Del Cuatro organization.


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Go to the Performers page for bios and information about the cuatristas that performed at Festival Del Cuatro 2009!

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Not able to attend this years Festival del Cuatro? Donate!

If you were unable to attend this years Festival or would like to make an additional contribution to our organization, please consider donating. The Festival Del Cuatro organization is a non-profit 501C3 organization. Tax EIN 20-5552075 (certificate will be provided upon request) [Click Here]


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