lunes, 30 de abril de 2012


I am in Venezuela for a few months, a little far from my Beloved Havana city, but I continue in touch with everything that happens in my city’s cultural life.

To be Declared Cultural Heritage of the Nation a Country Music Genre

One of the most popular genres of Cuban country music, known as repentismo (improvisation), will be declared as Cultural Heritage of the Nation, within the framework of the 16th edition of Cubadisco -Cuba’s International Record Fair and Contest-, to be held in Cuban capital from May 19th through the 27th.

Ciro Benemelis, president of the Organizing Committee, announced the good news earlier this week during the inauguration of the collective exhibition “El 5to elemento,” at Havana’s Abdala Studios. 

Attending the Cubadisco record fair and contest will be participants from Venezuela, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Panama, Chile and Cuba.

Cubadisco 2012, will be dedicated to the guitar as an instrument and will pay tribute to artists Ñico Rojas, Compay Segundo and Vicente Gonzalez Rubiera. 

jueves, 19 de abril de 2012

Havana Hosts International Dance Festival in Urban Landscapes

A retrospective of the most important pieces by the Chilean choreographer Isabel Bustos opened last Wednesday in Havana the International Dance Festival in Urban Landscapes, an event that livens up Old Havana every year with its passacaglia.

Dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the dance group Retazos, directed by Bustos, the work includes fragments of "My Eyes without Your Eyes", "Fish in the Hands", "Chimeras", "Destinies" and "Just Once".

"Retazos in the Time" reflects the philosophy and the choreographic line of the group; it is a look back to its history; a gift to the public amid the celebrations of its anniversary, the teacher and dancer told us.

Groups from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Uruguay, Venezuela, Ecuador, Austria, Spain, France, Ireland and Switzerland are participating in the festival.

In addition, dancers from Angola and Canada came, as well as Cuban groups like Danza Contemporanea de Cuba, Flamenca Ecos and Giganteria.

Old Havana: City in Movement consists of a broad program that takes place parallel to exhibitions, workshops for children and young people, as well as projects to teach traditional European dances.

martes, 17 de abril de 2012

Pianist Marcos Madrigal to Receive Award in Rome

Cuban pianist Marcos Madrigal will receive the International Award -Maison des Artistes (Artists’ House) Gold Medal- on April 27, granted by Rome’s Culture, Arts and Science Association.

The Cuban Music Institute has announced that Madrigal will be awarded for his refined sensitivity, excellent interpretative skills —comparable to those of the greatest composers of all times—, and his virtuosity and exceptional artistic quality.

The awards ceremony will be held at the Master Lecture Hall of La Sapienza University, in the Italian capital, with the attendance of association executives and several artists.

Madrigal is a graduate from the Higher Institute of Art, Cuba’s Arts University, where his professor was late Cuban pianist and teacher Teresita Junco.

As a professional artist he has given lectures and participated in other academic activities with professors such as US Kathleen Mackintosh, Israeli Shalev Ad-EL, French Ann Kathleen Bucher, and Italian William Grant Nabore.

Madrigal received the First Prize and Gold Medal at the Cuban Amadeo Roldán Competition in 1998, and the top award at the Maria Clara Cullell International Piano Competition in Costa Rica, among many other awards.

domingo, 15 de abril de 2012

Ballet School Holds Anniversary Performance at Havana's Grand Theater

The National Ballet School of Cuba held its last 50th anniversary Gala with a performance at Havana's Grand Theater on Sunday, featuring the piece Requiem by School Directress, Ramona de Saá, nicknamed Chery, and known as "the Fifth Gem of the Cuban National Ballet."

The Gala included performances by the Manuel Saumel Music School's string chamber orchestra, which accompanied National Ballet School ballet students on stage, who danced the piece Requiem dedicated to the directress' slain daughter and ballet teacher Margarita de Saá.

Performances to mark the arts educational center's 50th anniversary celebrations included two weekends of shows which featured a Suite of the renowned 19th century ballet Coppelia and Paquita's Grand Pas, coached and prepared by the school's teachers throughout a year.

The programs also included solos and pas de deux of the classical repertoire, including Coppelia, Don Quixote, Le Corsaire, La Bayadere, The Flames of Paris and contemporary pieces choreographed by professor and choreographer Laura Domingo. Other performances included pieces by the National Dance and Folk School, the Pantomime School, the Showbizz School and acrobats and contorsionists from the National Circus School.

Celebrations began on Thursday, April 5th with a Gala by the Cuban National Ballet Company, directed by Alicia Alonso, which celebrated the 50th anniversary of the National Ballet School of Cuba, featuring the one-act comedy ballet The Magic Flute. The ballet’s leading roles were danced by prima ballerina Anette Delgado, principal dancer Dani Hernández, first soloist Yanier Gómez, and Félix Rodríguez, Ernesto Diaz and Leandro Pérez.

The show also coincided with the school’s 2011-2012 graduation ceremony, where students who have just wound up a six month apprenticeship at different dance companies from all over the country, including the National Ballet of Cuba, received their diplomas as professional dancers and teachers.

miércoles, 11 de abril de 2012

Cuban Premier of "Amigas" at Karl Marx Theater

The new dance musical Amigas by the famous Cuban company Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba was a hit on Sunday, April 8th, during its Cuban premier, featuring Cuban singers Sory, Yaima Saez, Niurka Reyes, and principal dancers Carmen Rosa López, Caludia Valdivia and Ana López .The Cuban premier took place as part of celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba and the show will continue in the Havana theater throughout the entire month of April.
Amigas had its world premier in Hamburg, Germany, in 2011, with a packed house, the Thalia Theater, being totally sold out every night during the ensemble’s 19 performances. The dance musical, or what is being called dansical by some US critics, will also star other singers, some experienced and other young singers, such as Maureen Iznaga and Gretell Barreiro.Amigas features the fiction story of divas Mercedes, Caridad and Regla, members of the former famous trio Amigas, one of the most important such groups in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s in Cuba, which separate without an apparent cause at the top of their successful career. On a TV show called “Music and Stars” the mature and still beautiful women are made to tell the story of how and why they separated when audiences loved them most.
The show includes live music by the company’s band that will play music hits by renowned Cuban composers Juan Formell, Pablo Milanés, César Portillo de la Luz, Amaury Pérez, Giraldo Piloto, Alberto Vera and Osvaldo Farrés, among others. The show is generally directed by Lizt Alfonso; the script was written by Lizt Alfonso and Juan Carlos Coello; it’s musically directed by Efraín Chibás, set designs by Erick Grass and Lizt Alfonso, costume design by Erick Grass, Oscar de la Portilla and Lizt Alfonso and lighting design by Juan Carlos Coello.

The famous Cuban ensemble is made up of 26 ballerinas, 2 male dancers and one guest, six musicians and two guests. Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba has traveled all over the world and excelled on stages in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia,Germany, Belgium, France, Portugal, Canada, Bahrain, Egypt, South Africa and the United States, including Broadway.

martes, 3 de abril de 2012

Walter Reiter to Take Part at Havana Concert Season

The British violinist Walter Reiter will take part in a series of concerts taking place at Havana´s Mozart Lyceum this month.

During the concert season, which starts today until April 13, Reiter will play works by great composers, like Johann Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, along with the Ars Longa Music Orchestra.alt

The British maestro, who has visited Cuba in previous occasions, will give a workshop based on classical works from the 17th and 19th century.

Walter Reiter graduated from the Royal Academy of Music and continued his studies under Ramy Shevelov in the University of Tel Aviv and Sandor Vegh in Germany. After working in the Menuhin Festival Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and contemporary music groups in Paris, he devoted himself for six years to the intensive teaching of talented children at the Rubin Conservatory in Jerusalem. His love for the music of the 17th and 18th centuries brought him to the study of 'authentic' performance practice on period instruments, and this has been his passion ever since.

He has led Les Arts Florissants, the Netherlands Bach Society Orchestra, the Hanover Band, the Seville Baroque Orchestra, Barockaner (Oslo), the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra, Accademia Daniel, the Gabrieli Consort, the King's Consort, and the English Concert, and was appointed leader of the Orchestra of the Sixteen, under Harry Christophers, in 2003. He has appeared as director and soloist with the Orchestra Barocca Italiana in Rome, the Ensemble Baroque de Limoges, the Varazdin Festival Orchestra, and the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra. Since 1989 he has led the second violins in The English Concert with whom he has toured and recorded extensively, frequently appearing as a soloist.

Walter Reiter has recorded the Recreations of Leclair for Addes, France, and Sonatas by Mondonville for Meridian, a CD which was awarded the ‘Choc’ label by the French CD magazine Diapason. In 1999 he founded Cordaria, whose highly acclaimed CDs to date are of Vivaldi Violin Sonatas Op 2, the Biber Mystery Sonatas, and "Un alma innamorata", a collection of cantatas for voice, violin obbligato and continuo.

Walter Reiter is a dedicated teacher. He has given master classes in France, Italy, Spain, Croatia, Canada, Israel, Peru, Mexico and Cuba, and is Baroque Violin Teacher at Trinity College of Music, at the Royal Academy of Music and in the Dartington International Summer School. He believes in spreading the message of music beyond the boundaries of the privileged, and is Visiting Professor of Baroque Violin in the Institite of Superior Arts in Havana. He is also active as a conductor, and has conducted orchestras in Israel, Canada, Croatia. and Cuba, where he is working to establish a Baroque Orchestra, and where he has conducted the Havana Chamber Orchestra and the Estaban Salas Orchestra. He directs Baroque projects with the Andalucian Youth Orchestra in Spain, and was Musical Director of the Linden Baroque Orchestra, with whom he recorded a CD, on the Meridian Label, of music by Fasch.

Cuba Makes Upcoming Good Friday a Holiday

Honoring an appeal by Pope Benedict XVI, the Cuban Council of Ministers has decided to make this year's Good Friday a holiday, according to a communiqué published Saturday by Cuba’s daily newspaper “Granma”.

The official note states that during his meeting March 27 with President Raul Castro, the Supreme Pontiff requested that those involved in non indispensable activities be exempted from work on Good Friday in honor of Jesus Christ's passion and the commemoration of Christ's death.

Before leaving for Rome, the Cuban President confirmed that the government was happy to make this year's Good Friday a holiday in honor of His Holiness and the success of his recent visit to Cuba. However, the communiqué says that the Cuban Council of Ministers will decide later whether to make the holiday permanent.

viernes, 30 de marzo de 2012

Craftwork Project Designated Intangible Heritage

Aimed at preserving the centuries-old craft techniques, the Cuban project "Weaving Dreams with Fibers" was recognized by the Regional Center for the Safeguard of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Latin America (CRESPIAL).

The initiative, which has planned actions in Viñales to preserve traditional craftsmanship from the 19th century, will be sponsored by the institution with a 5,000 dollars fund, promoter Nieves Lugo told Prensa Latina.

The craftwork, made with fibers of Guaniquiqui, a plant that is abundant in the western Cuban territory, is related to tobacco, a typical crop in the region.

Production of handmade baskets to store and transport the tobacco leaves, a tradition that still cultivated at present, began centuries ago in that locality, which was designated Humankind's Cultural Landscape by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The hats used by farmers, rattles, containers to keep bottles of liquor, and furniture are crafted there, following similar traditions.

miércoles, 14 de marzo de 2012

A Website is Launched on Upcoming Pope’s Visit

Cuba launched an official website ( prior to the upcoming visit to the Caribbean nation of Pope Benedict XVI.

The website, hosted by the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, includes detailed information on the Pope’s scheduled three-day visit to Santiago de Cuba and Havana on March 26-28.

It also offers details on topics such as the organization of the Catholic Church in Cuba, the Vatican, Pope John Paul II’s 1998 trip to Cuba, and preparation works currently underway at Havana’s Revolution Square —where the Pope will celebrate a Mass.

The website also has biographical information on Cuban priest Felix Varela, who is being considered for Canonization as a Catholic Saint.

The Archbishop of Havana, Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino, addressed the Cuban people on Pope Benedict XVI’s upcoming visit during a national television broadcast scheduled for 8:30 pm local time last night.

miércoles, 29 de febrero de 2012

Cuban Musicians Advocate for More Cuban Music

Popular Cuban musicians, like Juan Formell and Jose Luis Cortes, advocated here to defend and resize the dance genres of the island in the face of the avalanche of foreign rhythms alien to the native idiosyncrasy.

Meeting at Havana's Rum Museum for the recent launching of the book The Kings of the Salsa, by Rafael Lam, prominent musicians like Moises Valle (Yumuri), Miguel Angel Rasalp (Lele), Pedro Calvo, and Eliades Ochoa, agreed on the need of promoting Cuban popular music more.

Cortes and a group of young musicians gave a sort of impromptu song recital, followed by the vocal improvisation of some of the meeting's participants.

Two veteran pianists, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Lazaro Valdes, also performed at the gathering, showing the popular fondness for their music.

It is time to put Cuban music very high, said Lam prior to the concert, and stressed that it was the music which gave the people their identity, unity, and happiness.

Again French Opera Musicians Perform in Cuba

A selection of musicians from the Rouen Opera Orchestra, France, will give a concert in Cuba on March 2 and 3, as part of cultural exchange between the European country and Cuba.

The first concert will be held in the Cuban province of Matanzas, and the second is scheduled at the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi in Havana, told reporters the Cuban clarinetist, who lives in France, Lester Chio.

Chio, project developer, said he and the musicians invited French Florent Audibert (cello) and Hel ine Bordeaux (violin) will offer a recital that includes a varied repertoire.

Giving details of the program, Chio said that it includes works by Antonin Dvorak, Johannes Brahms, Wolfgang A. Mozart and Sergei Prokofiev.

Chio said that with the support of the Cuban Institute of Music and the National Center of Concert Music, all the
members of the Orchestra of the Opéra de Rouen will visit Cuba in 2013.

This time we want to offer a series of concerts linked to educational meetings, Chio added.