Lang Lang and Chucho Valdés to perform in Cuba, October 9


Marta Sánchez reports for On Cuba.

World renowned pianists Lang Lang and Chucho Valdés will combine their talents in Havana, on October 9, in what promises to be an electrifying concert.

According to cultural communicator and event organizer Eric Latzky, the two musicians met by chance last year in Vienna, Austria.

“They were there to perform, they met briefly and played a bit of music together in private. Later they decided they wanted to put on a concert together. The show in Havana will be their first joint public performance, and I think they’re both very excited,” he said.

The New York Times described Lang Lang as the “hottest artist on the classical music planet,” while Time magazine included him on its list of the 100 most influential people in the world. One thing is for sure, if a picture is worth a thousand words, the 30 year old Lang looks like a young boy, dressed in sneakers and shiny jackets, with spiky hair.

Rocking this unique look, he plays Liszt, Mozart, Beethoven, and Rachmaninov, while his harshest critics describe him as a “phenomenal musician and extremely passionate.” Something he shares with the exceptional Cuban jazz artist, Chucho Valdés, winner of eight Grammy Awards and born in Havana, the city to which their performance is dedicated – in honor of the 500th anniversary of its founding.

“Music matters in Havana and we’re close neighbors with many shared cultural interests,” said Latzky, from the U.S., who together with other members of the event production team recently spent several days in the Cuban capital in order to familiarize themselves with the Plaza de la Catedral, where the concert will take place.

“For me personally, having visited the city on various occasions, it has always been a dream to build musical bridges. Today, in this new climate of dialogue and increasing openness, it seems like the right moment to put on a concert based on international cooperation. The Cuban Music Institute and its President, Orlando Vistel Columbié, have been outstanding compañeros, facilitating our work with the entity.”

Regarding the concert repertory, Latzky preferred to hold back on details, only revealing that the Cuban public would be enjoying local works as well.

Each artist has already put together a list of pieces they would like to play, from which U.S. conductor and violinist Marin Alsop will decide the final program. Current director of the Baltimore Symphonic Orchestra, Alsop was chosen to lead the National Symphonic Orchestra of Cuba in the Havana concert.

According to Latzky the event is a “celebratory occasion.” He also said that despite only meeting Chucho Valdés last March, he had always liked his music; a sentiment shared by co-producer, Jean-Jacques Cesbron, president of CAMI Music, New York, who has been working with the Cuban musician for many years.

In the meantime, all that remains is to wait until the beginning of October to witness the realization of this complex, but eagerly awaited, musical offering.

“We simply hope to put on a beautiful concert for the people of Cuba, in a very special space, Old Havana’s Plaza de la Catedral, with great internationally renowned artists – Marin Alsop and the National Symphonic Orchestra of Cuba, Lang Lang and Chucho Valdés – in order to celebrate the city of Havana as it approaches its 500th anniversary.”
Lang Lang has introduced classical music to audiences who have always thought the genre boring, instead gifting them with a spectacle of pure enjoyment.

For his part Chucho Valdés was inducted into the Latin Jazz Hall of Fame in Los Angeles, U.S., in 2000 and has been awarded honorary doctorates from universities in Canada, the United States and Cuba. In 2012 The New York Times hailed him asthe Dean of Latin jazz.

So, get ready Plaza de la Catedral.

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