Cuba’s Camerata Romeu, an All-Woman Orchestra

Camerata Romeu, founded and directed by Zenaida Castro Romeu, is an unique all-female string ensemble (with one percussionist), that perform their repertoire by heart—no written material is used during their live performances. The description of the documentary—Cuba mía: Portrait of An All-Woman Orchestra—states that “The Camerata Romeu orchestra is considered one of the finest and most intriguing modern ensembles in Cuba.” Although they have produced quite a few CDs, their first DVD—Concierto del Norte, an homage to Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg—was presented this year (April 2012) in Havana. Margarita Barrio (Cuba Now) writes:

Camerata Romeu is, after almost 20 years of work, one of the great protagonists of the Cuban cultural scene. Its unmistakable way of performing music has validated the recognition of expert critics from diverse countries around the world. Characterized by professionalism and stage gracefulness, they include within their select repertoire works by the great figures of international composition and the indispensable Cuban authors.

When it comes to CDs, Camerata has recorded several. The first one, La bella cubana (1997), is remembered with special fondness. The second one was Cuba mía, the name of a danzón by her grandfather Armando Romeu, with whom a documentary was made. (Premiered in 2002, the documentary won six international prizes.) With Bis Music she produced a CD that includes works by Leo Brouwer, José María Vitier, Roberto Valera, and Carlos Fariñas. She also made Danza de las brujas, comprising Latin American pieces. Te Amaré, with music by Silvio Rodríguez and Leo Brouwer and recorded for the Bolivian film El día que murió el silencio, was beautifully made.

However, Camerata had yet to record a DVD. The presentation took place recently at the Convento de San Francisco de Asís, in Havana’s Historical Center, which is the usual headquarters of the ensemble. Recorded by Bis Music, the DVD is a tribute to Edvard Grieg, one of the most outstanding exponents of Norwegian culture, and it comprises Camerata’s homage to the prominent musician and composer on the occasion of the centenary of his death in 2007.

[. . .] Zenaidita once declared that she belongs to the culture of a family that has defended national values. “We inherited a pejorative concept from musicians who thought that Cuban music wasn’t important, because they think that proper culture is the European one. I do believe that we have to transcend starting from national culture. With the passage of time, I stop to look back and I realize I was right, because we have opened doors in many places –not only here in Cuba, where we have a mass and professional public, and not only the one that goes to the Basilica, but a much larger public.”

The brilliant conductor is one of the pioneers in the renewal of Cuban vocal music from the ‘80s. Her big jump into popularity takes place in 1989, when the Organizing Committee of the International New Latin American Film Festival chose her to conduct the Concertatorio, a complex and vast symphonic and vocal work by Michel Legrand that the prominent French composer and musician had dedicated to the bicentenary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Legrand predicted a bright future for Zenaida in the music world: “I’m surprised by her youth,” he said, “but I’m even more amazed by her ability to understand every single detail of my work.”

And the prediction came true. When Maestro Zenaida Castro Romeu founded Camerata Romeu in 1993, she took to the stage the beauty and virtuosity that have allowed her to earn a place within the musical spectrum of Cuba and in many countries around the globe.

For full article, see

For Camerata Romeu’s official site, go to

For more information on the film Cuba mía, see

One thought on “Cuba’s Camerata Romeu, an All-Woman Orchestra

  1. By accident I came upon the all women orchestras, Camerata Rameu when l went to Youtube to hear Latin bands. I herd their music for the first time. It was Almendra and it was great! I love it. I am a 2nd generation Puerto Rican now living in Florida. I will tell anyone who will listen to me about this wonderful Orchestra. I am 69 years of age and was one of the Marines that landed me in your great country. Unfortunately for the wrong reason. I think Cuban music is the best.

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