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Thursday, Nov 15, 2018
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Florida Orchestra ready to conduct a cultural exchange with Cuba

TAMPA - Florida Orchestra and Cuban classical musicians will make music together under a cultural exchange program that will send Tampa area musicians to Havana by September. The multiyear partnership includes Florida Orchestra musicians leading master classes at a Havana conservatory and Cuban musicians eventually performing in the Tampa area. On the first trip, five members of The Florida Orchestra will perform with the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba. They will donate musical instruments to a conservatory as sign of good will. Also on the first trip, Florida Orchestra artistic administrator David Rogers will be seeking Cuban composers and artists to perform at future concerts here. Early in 2012, Florida Orchestra music director Stefan Sanderling will conduct the Cuban National Symphony, and Enrique Pérez Mesa, director of the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra, will then visit Tampa in May.
More exchanges will be scheduled, and the goal is to have the entire Florida Orchestra performing in Cuba by the 2012-13 season, says orchestra director Michael Pastreich. He says the project has been under way for more than a year. One of the goals is to "build a bond with the Cuban Americans through music," which could result in more local support for The Florida Orchestra. "It's not about politics; it's about reaching out to an Hispanic audience," he says. "Music is a universal language, and Tampa and Cuba have a rich history together," says Jose Valiente, a Tampa accountant and chairman of the orchestra's Cuban exchange task force. Pastreich says the orchestra needs to raise $500,000 over the next five years to fund the project. In January, the Obama administration began to relax travel restrictions to Cuba that made it difficult to visit the communist country. Pastreich says cultural exchanges were available before the changes in travel restrictions. "The only difference now is that we may be able to fly out of Tampa if the airport adds flights to Cuba," he says. Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa, who had urged approval of the trip, calls the exchange "a remarkable new milestone for the Tampa Bay community." Florida Orchestra musicians going to Cuba include Clay Ellerbroek (flute), Katherine Young (oboe), Brian Moorhead (clarinet), Anthony Georgeson (bassoon) and Robert Rearden (French horn). To make a contribution or donate a musical instrument, contact Angela Cassette at (727) 362-5460. [email protected] (813) 259-7654
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