Mozart in Havana: Pianist Simone Dinnerstein with Havana Lyceum Orchestra

SimoneDinnerstein_Photo LMMazzucco_HavanLyceumOrch7:00 pm • Tuesday, June 20th 2017
Zankel Center at Skidmore College • Saratoga Springs, NY

This past Friday, Donald Trump went to Miami to announce a reversal on recent U.S.-Cuba policy that was aimed at easing restrictions on business and travel that the Obama administration had adopted with the small island nation 90 miles off the Florida coast.

While Hudson Sounds is not a political forum, one has to wonder what impact such policy change will have in the future on projects and performances such as the one pianist Simone Dinnerstein has fostered with the Havana Lyceum Orchestra. This is brought up now because this Tuesday Dinnerestein and the young Havana orchestra will be performing at the Zankel Music Center at Skidmore as a co-presentation with the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC).

But lets back up a bit. In 2015 Simone Dinnerstein traveled to Cuba to perform at a piano festival in Havana. For this, she was paired with the young musicians of the Havana Lyceum Orchestra. To her delight, she found this talented ensemble of mainly student musicians and some professors was an ideal match for performing W.A. Mozart. So, in June 2016, she returned to Cuba and spent three very humid nights at an old church, Oratorio Neri, in historic Old Havana recording the works that are featured on their recently released album, Mozart in Havana.

It is Mozart in Havana that brings the Havana Lyceum Orchestra to tour with the Brooklyn pianist Simone Dinnerstein, who can’t really speak Spanish, for their debut tour to the United States this June. With principal conductor of the orchestra José Antonio Méndez Padrón at the helm, Tuesday evening’s performance with Dinnerstein at the piano is to include a mix of the following:

    • Carlos FariñasPunto y Tonadas
    • W.A. Mozart — Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K 467
    • W.A. Mozart — Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, K 488
    • Aaron CoplandAppalachian Spring

If you have a moment, click the image below to hear a conversation between WAMC’s Joe Donahue and the acclaimed Simone Dinnerstein about the program, working with the Havana Lyceum Orchestra, and the Mozart in Havana tour.

PlaylistWhile many of us have come to enjoy the fruits of a variety of cultural barriers being set-aside, this recording, let-alone the performance tour may not have been possible a few years ago when travel between the United States and Cuba was severely restricted. Given Trump’s announcement on Friday, let us hope concerts like this and upcoming Troy Chromatic Concert in March 2018 featuring the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba can be continued to be fostered as healthy cultural exchange.

Just in case, you might want to contact the Zankel Music Center’s Box Office and get your ticket for Tuesday night’s performance. Below is another chance to hear Simone Dinnerstein talk more about performing and recording Mozart in Cuba on PRI’s The Takeaway. Hope you can go… and Happy musicking!


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