National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba Enrique Pérez Mesa, music director Yekwon Sunwoo, pianist

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Featured National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba Enrique Pérez Mesa, music director Yekwon Sunwoo, pianist

The National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba, which has been pivotal in introducing music of its homeland to international audiences, will make its Penn State premiere with a program including Manuel De Falla’s The Three-Cornered Hat, Guido López’s Guaguanco, and Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9.

Yekwon Sunwoo, gold-medal winner of the 2017 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, will perform Sergei Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43, as featured soloist with the orchestra. Sunwoo, the first South Korean to win the prestigious competition, is a graduate of Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music.

“The National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba can play symphonies by Beethoven and Mendelssohn, and play them well,” writes 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.”

Founded in 1960, the orchestra covers an immense symphonic and chamber repertoire ranging from Baroque to contemporary music. The ensemble has toured to the United States, Russia, Poland, Spain, Mexico, Argentina, and other countries.

Music Director Enrique Pérez Mesa, a native of Cuba and a graduate of its National School of Arts, has led performances in leading concert halls on three continents. The Grammy Award nominee has also recorded music for Cuban and Spanish films.

Mr. Sunwoo appears by arrangement with the Cliburn.

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