National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba to make Penn State debut March 20

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba, led by music director Enrique Pérez Mesa, will make its Penn State debut at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 20, in Eisenhower Auditorium. Yekwon Sunwoo, the gold-medal winner of the 2017 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, will join the island nation’s ensemble as the featured soloist.

The program will include Manuel de Falla’s “The Three Cornered Hat,” Suite 1; Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9; and Guido Lopéz-Gavilán’s “Guaguancó.” Sunwoo will perform Sergei Rachmaninov’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini,” Op. 43.

The Caribbean orchestra was founded in 1959 and serves two functions: to introduce the musical history and culture of Cuba and Latin America to the world and to educate and train young Cuban musicians. Mesa has led the ensemble in performances in at least a dozen countries, and his recordings include compositions for Spanish-language films and the Grammy-nominated classical compilation “Salmo de las Américas.”

“The National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba can play symphonies by Beethoven and Mendelssohn, and play them well,” wrote a reviewer for the Tampa Bay Times. “But what is special is when the musicians make like a big dance band from the Tropicana, the legendary nightclub in Havana, and play classical music with an Afro-Cuban beat.”

Sunwoo, who beat out at least 30 competitors at the 15th Cliburn contest in June, “can do anything he puts his mind to at the keyboard,” wrote a critic for the Chicago Tribune. “The hard brilliance of sound he drew from the Steinway, sometimes at breakneck speed, was astonishing to behold.”

Artistic Viewpoints, an informal moderated discussion featuring a visiting artist or artists, is offered in Eisenhower one hour before the concert and is free for ticket holders. Artistic Viewpoints regularly fills to capacity, so seating is available on a first-arrival basis.

For more information about the performance, visit the Center for the Performing Arts online or call 814-863-0255. For details about “A Cuban Musical Experience” community event, visit Classical Coffeehouse.

Elinor C. Lewis and Dotty Rigby sponsor the performance. WPSU is the media sponsor.

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Last Updated February 22, 2018