Minnesota Youth Symphonies to perform in Cuba in 2017


The St. Paul-based Minnesota Youth Symphonies will follow the lead of the Minnesota Orchestra and travel to Cuba in June 2017 for a week-long cultural exchange.

The orchestra, which features students from around the state, will visit four cities to perform and meet with professional and student Cuban musicians. They will be under the direction of co-artistic director Manny Laureano, who visited Havana as a member of the Minnesota Orchestra during its historic tour in May.

That trip, Laureano said in a news release, “was a more influential experience than I expected. Meeting their young musicians moved my heart … the chance to communicate through their talents and to be changed by the talents of other young people helps them understand a world wider than their own.”

A group of about 80 students will visit Cienfugos, Trinidad, Santa Clara and Havana to perform three concerts and participate in four musical exchanges/workshops. Cuban-born pianist Nachito Herrera, who lives in White Bear Lake, will collaborate with the orchestra as guest soloist.

The Virginia-based Classical Movements is arranging the trip, as they did with the Minnesota Orchestra. Said president Neeta Helms: “Manny Laureano was a huge hit in Cuba. His personality and fluent Spanish combined with his obvious joy during the Minnesota Orchestra tour did not go unnoticed by Cuban students, officials and musicians. His youth orchestra, combined with Nachito, who is also well-known and loved, is going to make this a very important and attractive event for the Cuban music loving population.”

— Ross Raihala

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