Ezequiel Torres Courtesy of HistoryMiami Museum. Photo of Ezequiel Torres sitting with one of his drums.

Ezequiel Torres was born in Havana, Cuba to a musical family. Ezequiel and his sister, Neri, both became passionate about music and dance from their parents and from musicians who visited their home. They were particularly influenced by Orisha music and dances of the Santería religion.

At age 16, Ezequiel apprenticed under several master batá drum makers and players, eventually becoming a ceremonial performer and drum maker himself. In the 1970s, he taught percussion at Havana’s Escuela Nacional de Arte and was the musical director for dance classes at the Escuela Nacional de Instructores de Arte. He left Cuba for Miami in 1980 and established himself as one of the top makers and performers in the United States.

Ezequiel makes batá drums, “bantés” (beaded covers for batá drums) and beaded “shekerés” (gourd instruments). His instruments and bantés are considered to be of the highest quality, with demand from collectors, musicians and museums alike. Several of his pieces are housed in the permanent collection at the HistoryMiami Museum. His work has also been featured in the touring exhibition “Florida Folklife: Traditional Arts in Contemporary Communities,” the National Bead Museum in Washington D.C. and the book Just Above the Water: Florida Folk Art.

Ezequiel also served as the Musical Director for IFÉ-ILÉ (see Neri Torres) from 1996 to 2001 and continues to teach and perform during the IFÉ-ILÉ annual festival.

Ezequiel is highly decorated in the state of Florida as a Folk Heritage Award winner, recipient of Individual Artist Fellowships, six-time Master Artist in the Folklife Apprenticeship program, Artist-in-Residence for the HistoryMiami Museum (January through March 2012) and Artist-in-Residence for Florida Folklife Program and Florida State University’s Center for Music of the Americas (2012). In 2010 he was honored with the National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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