Star soprano, Mambo Kings to perform with DPO

Camille Zamora and Afro-Cuban jazz band are part of SuperPops Series.



In her storied career, soprano Camille Zamora has worked with a wide array of top talent, from Plácido Domingo to Sting. However, one of her most impactful shows was the night she happened to share a bill with the Mambo Kings. Now, Zamora is a regular collaborator with the group, who both join the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra for the SuperPops Series concert, “Havana Nights,” at the Schuster Center in Dayton on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.

“What’s actually wonderful is it’s been kind of a slow process but a terrific evolution,” Zamora said. “A real friendship has blossomed over the years. What’s funny is we literally met backstage when I was doing the first half of a program with the Rochester Philharmonic. I was singing classical Spanish arias and they were getting ready to go out on the second half and rock out with all of their Mambo Kings’ stuff.

“We started bonding over all of this favorite repertoire we all loved, these old boleros and this old classic Spanish pop music,” Zamora continued. “We decided to build out some more programs together and we started working. I love it when the universe hears you and kind of gets on board. Somehow, we kept finding our schedules were aligning and the word got out in the symphonic world, which is wonderful. "

They’ve got rhythm

Zamora credits the talented members of the quintet with bringing the music alive for audiences.

“Every one of the Mambo Kings themselves are unbelievable,” she said. “It’s telling that there are five of them because they’re like fingers in a hand. They are independently strong. They are virtuosos in and of themselves but together there’s this unbelievable chemistry. It’s always an adventure. Of course, there’s something really infectious about this music.

“Whether you’re of Hispanic heritage, as we all happen to be, or if you’ve never heard this music before, there’s this driving rhythmic essence that makes you feel really alive,” Zamora continued. “We’ve all been dealing with so much, particularly the last couple of years, and this is music that puts you in a good mood. The response has been incredible. We’ve really done the concert in a lot of great places.”



Zamora has had the opportunity to work with numerous orchestras in her two-decade career but the graduate of the Juilliard School says there’s something unique about the alchemy created with the help of the Mambo Kings,

“Part of the joy about doing this music with symphony orchestras is it has all of the best of the old school rigor,” Zamora said. “That incredible sonic palette is definitely built into our program. You have this feast of colors but there’s also something super modern about this program and the improvisatory vibe we bring to every concert. There’s something new and fresh every night.

“Having that against the traditional rigor of the orchestral concert hall is really amazing,” she continued. “It’s been unique in my experience. I cut my teeth in opera. I came up through a very traditional classical music world and I love that but I also love jazz and new music and this concert occupies that sweet spot. It’s partly classical, partly jazz. It’s really pretty thrilling.”

In the studio

Zamora, who is co-founder and co-executive director of Sing For Hope, released her latest solo album, “If the Night Grows Dark,” in May 2020. It reached the Top 10 on Billboard’s classical albums chart. She and the Mambo Kings will be entering the studio soon to record a new collaborative project.

“We haven’t mentioned it yet but I’m excited because we’re planning to record and release an album in the next year,” she said. “We haven’t gone into the studio yet but we have a full calendar and the more we live with this music together, the more we realize we have something special. Some songs in the concert have been recorded a million times but we feel we have something really unique to say about them.

“The incredible thing about music is it’s an endlessly renewable resource,” Zamora added. “And, frankly, the more you do music, the more you have music in your life, the music just generates more of itself. We’ve been rehearsing and planning and plotting. A lot of stuff feels like it’s in the gestation period right now but we’re excited to be able to share an album with people.”

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or e-mail at


What: Havana Nights with Camille Zamora, the Mambo Kings and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra

Where: Schuster Center, Second and Main streets, Dayton

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1

Cost: $26 to $85

More info: 937-228-3630 or

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