Editor's Note: This is a press release from the City of Puyallup
It’s official: Northwest Sinfonietta (NWS) will be hosting members of Orquesta de Cámara Concierto Sur (Concert Chamber Orchestra of the South) from Cienfuegos, Cuba—Tacoma’s sister city.
This visit is the second phase of the historic reciprocal exchange which began with Northwest Sinfonietta’s tour to Cuba in January 2012, as only the third U.S. orchestra to visit Cuba since the 1959 revolution.
The Cuban musicians’ visit is a collaboration between Northwest Sinfonietta and University of Puget Sound. Northwest Sinfonietta will hold three public concerts from Friday, Oct. 5 to Sunday, Oct. 7. Puget Sound will then host four days of public events including cultural talks and music, from Monday, Oct. 8 to Thursday, Oct. 11. A final concert will be at University of Washington Tacoma on Saturday, Oct. 13
The first week of the Cubans’ visit will include four rehearsals and three performances alongside members of Northwest Sinfonietta, conducted by NWS Music Director Christophe Chagnard. The program includes works by Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona, known as the “George Gershwin of Cuba.” NWS will perform three of Lecuona’s best-known works— Gintanerias, La Comparsa and Malagueña.
Also featured on the program is Beethoven’s mighty testament to the human spirit—Symphony No. 9. The program will be performed in all three NWS resident cities—Seattle’s Benaroya Hall (in the S. Mark Taper Auditorium for the first time), Tacoma’s Rialto Theater and Puyallup’s Pavilion, on October 5, 6 and 7. More than 120 musicians and singers will be onstage for these performances.
These performances will be the first time that U.S. and Cuban orchestras have performed side-by-side in the United States since the 1959 revolution. It will also be the first time that any of the visiting Cubans will be performing Beethoven’s Ninth.
"Upon leaving Cuba after our January 2012 tour, we pledged to, in turn, invite our hosts to our shores,” said NWS Music Director Christophe Chagnard. “The task was ambitious and at times uncertain, but here they are! This is a truly historical moment in the relationship between our two nations and a first since the revolution.”
NWS worked with Congressman Norm Dicks, Senator Maria Cantwell and Cuban Cultural Minister Caridad Abreu to make sure all the necessary visas were in order to make this historical exchange a possibility.
“I am honored to provide my support for this exchange,” said Dicks. “NWS represents us well wherever they perform. This exchange will help Northwest Sinfonietta fulfill its unique role promoting cultural understanding and exchange through music, the universal language.”
“The arrival of our Cuban friends, who will leave their country for the very first time to visit Seattle, is a cause for celebration! said Chagnard. “Sharing our country and Beethoven’s 9th with such passionate and friendly musicians promises to elicit deep emotions, which we will be fortunate to share with our audiences.”
The second week of this historic exchange will include educational and cultural events at the University of Puget Sound and University of Washington Tacoma. This will include special performances by Orquesta de Cámara Concierto Sur, round table discussions, master classes, and lectures on Cuban culture and entrepreneurship.
While in the northwest, the Cuban musicians will also participate in Northwest Sinfonietta’s annual gala on Friday, October 12, known as TEMPO. This year’s theme is Tempo Cubana! and will feature a festive Cuban-themed party with live Cuban music, salsa dancing and a special performance by Orquesta de Cámara Concierto Sur. Information on Tempo Cubana! is available on the NWS website.
The final concert will be performed at the University of Washington Tacoma on October 13. After that, the Cuban musicians along with members of Northwest Sinfonietta will fly to Tempe, Arizona, where they will perform together on October 15 at the Tempe Arts Center. The featured work on the program will be Opre Roma!, the original work composed by Maestro Chagnard which premiered in November 2010 to a standing, cheering audience. The work, written for orchestra and three gypsy jazz guitars, has since been performed in Cuba during NWS’s January 2012 tour.
“We are grateful to all of our supporters for believing in this project and making it a reality,” said NWS Executive Director Neil Birnbaum. “NWS is grateful for University of Puget Sound, University of Washington, and Tacoma’s Cienfuegos Sister City Committee for their visionary support which was essential to the success of the exchange.”
Northwest Sinfonietta is also thrilled to announce that it will be returning to Cuba in January 2013. A select group of patrons will be able to join the orchestra January 9–18. The all-inclusive trip includes five days in Cienfuegos, four days in Havana, two Northwest Sinfonietta concerts, a special recital by pianist Joel Fan and much more. The program will focus on music as an art form that builds cultural bridges and unites people in creative and inspiring ways. It will allow members of the group to interact with Cubans on many levels, and to learn about each other through intense daily contact. NWS musicians will offer master classes at the University of Cienfuegos and the Benny Moré School of the Arts. They will also visit the Cienfuegos School for the Deaf.
There is still limited space available to join Northwest Sinfonietta on this historic tour. The all-inclusive cost for the 10-day trip is $4,675 per person. Subscribers will receive a $200 discount. For more information, call (253) 383-5344 or visit the NWS website.
Friday, October 5 – Nordstrom Hall at Benaroya, Seattle, 7:30 pm
Saturday, October 6 – Rialto Theater, Tacoma, 7:30 pm