One hundred Minnesota Orchestra musicians are about to take a historic trip to Havana, Cuba to perform in the International Cubadisco Festival, making the Minnesota Orchestra the first U.S. ensemble of its kind to play there since 1999, and since the warming of U.S.-Cuban relations in December. The trip also marks the first major movement the orchestra is making after a nearly 16-month lockout.
"We're going there as friends, you know, making friends through music, through this great art we devote our lives to," principal cellist Tony Ross said.
Cargo for the trip will include 65 tour trunks weighing about 4 tons and the music for the 16 works to be performed, totaling 2,000 individual parts. The trip will start with a stop at a high school and university for musical exchanges with students.
"As the co-director of the Minnesota Youth Symphonies, I have a real interest in hearing the young people that we're going to be playing side-by-side with. That, for me, is going to be a lot of fun," Manny Laureano said, who plays principal trumpet.
Laureano has been with the ensemble for 34 years. He's also a Puerto Rican American and looking forward to connecting with his fellow Caribbeans.
"This is not quite like going home, but going to go visit a cousin that you've never met," he said.
Orchestra members said they were humbled to be a part of the process of reestablishing America's cultural ties with Cuba. The Minnesota Orchestra leaves on a charter flight to Cuba on Wednesday.
Cuba itinerary, how to listen
Here's their day-by-day schedule and where you can hear them perform:
Wednesday: Arrival. Walking tour of old Havana, welcome dinner at Hotel Nacional.
Thursday: Breakfast with speaker from U.S. Interests Section in Havana. School visit to Escuela Nacional de Arte and Instituto Superior de Arte. Afternoon rehearsal.
Friday: Rehearsal with students at Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil del Conservatorio Amadeo Roldán. Evening concert at Teatro Nacional. Beethoven program, featuring Egmont Overture, Choral Fantasy and Symphony No. 3, with pianist Frank Fernandez, the Cuban National Choir and Coro Vocal Leo.
Saturday: Concert at Teatro Nacional. Program includes symphonic dances from "West Side Story" and Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet."
Radio: Live performances 7:30 p.m. (CST) Fri. and Sat., May 15-16, on Minnesota Public Radio classical stations (99.5 FM in the Twin Cities).