Cuban Overtures: On the road with the Minnesota Orchestra

Posted on: May 21, 2015

“Cultural diplomacy is what the policy wonks call it,” writes League of American Orchestras President and CEO Jesse Rosen on Tuesday’s (5/19) Huffington Post about the Minnesota Orchestra’s recent visit to Cuba. Rosen traveled to Cuba with the orchestra May 13 to 17. “On the ground in Havana with the Minnesota Orchestra, Marilyn C. Nelson, the orchestra’s vice chair and tour underwriter, calls it love. There is no better way to describe the affection, admiration, generosity, appreciation, and sharing that took place between this impassioned orchestra and a joyous Cuban public. In a jam-packed three days the orchestra gave two sold-out concerts at Teatro Nacional de Cuba, coached eager and admiring high school and college students, played a side-by-side concert with the Youth Orchestra of the Amadeo Roldán Conservatory, jammed with Cuban musicians into the wee hours in a night club, and performed at the residence of Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, Chief of Mission of the U.S. Interests Section. The itinerary hardly does justice to the euphoria that typified each event and the beaming faces that lit up the entire tour. The promise of normalization following President Obama’s December 17 announcement made every interaction even more poignant, this being the first visit of a U.S. orchestra since that historic date.… These three days in Havana strongly indicate that standing for something or someone is not only the right thing to do, but it also electrifies the music-making and ramps up the satisfaction and joy. As policy leaders question the relevance of orchestras in serving basic human needs, I am more convinced than ever of the capacity of orchestras to improve lives and communities.”

Posted May 21, 2015

Pictured: Minnesota Orchestra Principal Trombone R. Douglas Wright works with a Cuban trombone student at the Instituto Superior de Arte. Photo by Travis Anderson