Cuban National Symphony to Tour the United States

John Fleming (Tampa Bay Times) writes that as part of the Florida Orchestra’s cultural exchange, the Cuban National Symphony will tour the United States, making a stop in the Tampa Bay area and at the historical Cuba Club in Ybor City.

In its first U.S. tour since Fidel Castro took power in 1959, the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba will perform in the Tampa Bay area in November, including a chamber music concert at the Cuban Club in Ybor City. This is significant, said E.J. Salcines, a retired prosecuting attorney and judge, and Latino elder statesman in Tampa: “The Cuban Club has been the site of a long cultural connection with the musicians and composers and theatrical performers who frequently came from Cuba to perform at the Cuban clubs in Ybor City. I look at this as an important event from a cultural point of view.”

The Cubans will be presented by the Florida Orchestra as part of its multiyear cultural exchange with the island nation, which began in September when a wind quintet from the orchestra performed in Havana.  The Cuban orchestra may play elsewhere in Florida, but tour producer Leonid Fleishaker of New York-based World Touring Entertainment said that contracts have not been finalized. The orchestra will not play in Miami.

[. . .] Cuba’s symphony orchestra will be in the Tampa Bay area at least three days. On Nov. 5, the chamber music concert at the Cuban Club will combine musicians from both orchestras. On Nov. 7, the day after the U.S. presidential election, the entire Cuban National Symphony will perform at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg. Those concerts are part of a U.S. tour that will begin in Kansas City in October and tentatively include 17 cities in 10 states. The Florida Orchestra said it wanted to do more than simply present the Cuban orchestra in a single concert. They aren’t just coming into town, playing a concert and leaving the next morning, Florida Orchestra president Michael Pastreich said. What we’re able to do is have a full-fledged residency where we can embrace the Cuban national orchestra into the fabric of our organization and the fabric of our community.

[. . .] At the Mahaffey concert, the program will feature Cuban pianist Ignacio (Nachito) Herrera performing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, along with Gershwin’s Cuban Rhapsody, Guaguancó by Cuban composer-conductor Guido López-Gavilán and Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. The conductors will be music director Enrique Pérez Mesa and López-Gavilán. The chamber concert program is yet to be determined. In addition to the concerts, Pérez Mesa and members of the National Symphony will offer master classes. Also on hand will be Roberto Chorens, executive director of the NSOC and director of the Amadeo Roldán Conservatory, where the Florida Orchestra quintet members gave master classes during their visit to Havana.

This May, the Cuban cultural exchange will continue with Pérez Mesa making his U.S. debut as guest conductor of the Florida Orchestra in a program that includes Cuban music. Stefan Sanderling, the Florida music director, has been invited to guest-conduct the Cuban orchestra in Havana in February 2013. Cuban guest artists and composers are likely to be featured in Florida Orchestra programs. The ultimate goal is to send the entire Florida Orchestra to Cuba to perform as early as the 2013-14 Season.

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