Editor's note: Classical MPR assistant Brooke Knoll is in Havana as part of a U.S. contingent taking part in the Cuban American Youth Orchestra. Follow along as she shares her experience with this cross-cultural musical venture.
Our time in Cuba has flown by so fast that having the opportunity to take a breather and explore came as a welcome surprise. The musicians have been having six hours of rehearsal a day, but a decision to cancel sectionals today gave the musicians time to explore the city.
Some musicians met up with their new Cuban friends, who showed them around Old Havana, while others walked by the Malecon, the oceanside walkway where people gather at all times of day. The morning off left the musicians refreshed for rehearsal, where they played all of the pieces with gusto.
Later in the evening, students and members of the public alike attended a chamber music concert put on by members of the Minnesota Orchestra, as well as faculty members from the Instituto Superior de las Artes. CAYO musicians also joined, performing pieces they worked on during their sectionals.
The view inside the Iglesia de Paula was stunning, with a large stained-glass mural behind the performers lighting up the church in a faint shade of green.
The concert ended with a performance of a Mendelssohn octet, with half of the group coming from the Minnesota Orchestra and half from ISA. The sound was breathtaking, with lush chords filling every corner and crevice within the space.
With a final flick of the musicians' bows, the audience jumped to a standing ovation.