Portal de la Cultura de América Latina y el Caribe
Cuba's arts schools come alive with Jazz
25 April 2017/ UNESCO Havana/Portal of Culture of Latin America and the Caribbean

Two unforgettable sessions between music students from Cuba and the world took place on Monday, 24 April, and Tuesday, 25 April, at the University of the Arts (ISA) and the Amadeo Roldán Conservatory, respectively, a magnificent opening of the week dedicated to the global celebration in Havana of International Jazz Day.

Heading the group of visiting students from various countries was Danier Seeff, West Coast Programme Director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance. The young jazz musicians gave a concert at both centres of learning which included several numbers of their own and an impressive musical journey through the History of Jazz, beginning with its pioneers in the 19th century, such as ragtime Maestro Scott Joplin, to contemporary figures such as Dizzy Gillespie and Wynton Marsalis, passing through Coleman in the sixties, an expression of the fight for civil rights in the United States at the time, and Afro-Cuban jazz.

The ISA Jazz Band, under the direction of Camilo Moreira Coro, performed “Mambo No. 5” by Dámaso Pérez Prado, “Amor Fugaz” by Benny Moré, and “Chinoiserie” by Duke Ellington, followed by the pianist of the band with a number of his own.

At the Amadeo Roldán Conservatory, young intermediate-level students offered a show featuring the Nymphs, a women’s quintet, directed by cellist Kabila Franchini Suárez; the music group “Ceda el Paso”, headed the young and award-winning pianist Rodrigo García Ameneiro; and the Jazz Band of the Conservatory, under the direction of Maestro Enrique Rodríguez Toledo, who is also the Director of the centre. The students performed novel arrangements of classics such as “Libertango” by Astor Piazzolla or “Pita y Para” by Francisco Repilado, and a repertoire of Cuban and international jazz.

It was very exciting to see the interaction between the students of the Thelonious Monk Institute and their Cuban counterparts, in a veritable show of virtuosity both during and after the formal programme, where in improvised jam sessions and in exchanges during spontaneous “workshops” on their instruments, invitees and hosts gave a flowing, irrepressible display of their talent and creativity.

Both events undoubtedly illustrated the power of jazz to unite, create synergies, so that cultures may engage in a dialogue through the notes of this democratic music genre. Truth to tell, the public was privileged to attend.

Message from Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of International Jazz Day, 30 April 2017 ESPAÑOL ENGLISH FRANÇAIS

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