Cuba to Celebrate 100th Birthday of US Musician Leonard Bernstein

Cuba will celebrate the 100th birthday of the US composer, musician and orchestra conductor Leonard Bernstein with a selection of his most renowned musical works at Havana's Marti Theater, organizers said here.

The shows are scheduled for December 1 and 2, as part of a joint work by Cuba's National Lyric Theater, the Duchesne Cuzan Philarmonic Orchestra, the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television's Choir and the Laura Alonso Ballet.

The tribute to Leonard Bernstein, entitled 'Bernstein Gala' will have the participation of outstanding singers such as the sopranos Dayri Llanes, Angeline Diaz and Daili Roche, and the Swedish mezzosoprano singer Charlotta Huldt, as a guest, under the musical direction of Cesar Eduardo Ramos.

The program consists of a selection of the comic operetta 'Candide' and the musical show West Side Story, a classic in the highly acclaimed artist's repertoire.

Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) was a versatile US musician whose 100th birthday has been celebrated in the world since August 2017, with a program consisting of 2,000 shows in all continents, including concerts and exhibitions at important cultural centers.

  • Published in Culture

Art Instructors, the 15 Year-old Waltz

Making it massive, to share, to promote, to create are some of the words for this celebration and the topic: The best of Cuban culture...

The objective of art instructors, the amateur movement, the Culture Houses, are present in the Speech to Intellectuals given by the leader of the Cuban Revolution in date as early as 1961:

“… One of the Revolution’s fundamental purposes is to develop art and culture, in fact so that art and culture become a true patrimony of the people.

Just like we have wanted for the people a better life regarding material things, we also want for the people a better life in the spiritual realm, we want for the people a better life in the field of culture. Just as the revolution is concerned about the development of conditions and the strengths that allow the people the satisfaction of all their material needs, we also want to develop the conditions that allow the people the satisfaction of all their cultural needs.”

It’s easy to recognize that very feeling in the optimism with which Fidel welcomed the second graduation of the schools of instructors that he encouraged in the beginnings of the third millennium:

“It’s amazing the path that opens up toward the training of sensibility and appreciation of arts among the youngest and towards the ambitious purpose of creating a massive and comprehensive general culture in our people.

“A culture that is not only artistic, but also historical, scientific, economic, geographical, environmental and in the most diverse fields of knowledge, with a deep humanist meaning.”

It’s in fact to instruct, of training the aesthetic pleasure, the artistic sensibility of Cubans, it’s to elevate to the maximum the critic capacity to tell apart between banality and art, between vulgarity and creation, thus was created the José Martí Brigade of Art Instructors, an idea born from Fidel that in 2019 will reach its 15th anniversary.

What are we going to dance in that party? Hopefully, rumba and mambo and the Waltz of Butterflies no wonder we had Lecuona and everything that’s good and beautiful that we Cubans have been able to create, the wonderful heritage we have amassed for centuries, before portable speakers came into fashion and certain sectors forgot that what’s national, and authentic transcends and becomes universal.

Once again in Cuba we bet for the amateur movement, the workshops at Culture Houses, the visualization of groups displaying authentic Cuban features, facilities are remodeled and reviving the true Cuban essence is paramount. It’s urgent.

The challenge is to make massive the best of the Cuban culture, the treasure of our authentic groups, and the repertoire of creations that have grown in this country where talent is widespread.

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Russia, Cuba Address Cooperation in Health, Education and Culture

Russia and Cuba exchanged ideas on Thursday about the open prospects for cooperation between the two countries in health, education and culture, among other areas, in the framework of the 2nd Eurasian Women's Forum.

St. Petersburg's governor, Gueorgui Poltavchenko, stressed that his city, with six percent of the national production of drugs, strengthens collaboration with the Caribbean island in that regard, during a meeting with Cuban Vice President, Beatriz Johnson Urrutia.

During the talks at the Smolni Palace, Parliament headquarters of this city, Poltavchenko said that Russia is looking for the possibility of any kind of exchange with the Caribbean nation in terms of health, from supplies to the creation of joint ventures in Cuba.

He also referred to the opportunities of a fruitful scientific exchange in health, as well as students and specialists from both states.

The governor of St. Petersburg noted that some 15 Cuban students are studying in different universities in this city and considered that number can increase.

The Cuban vice president thanked the Russian participation in the celebration in 2019 of the 500th anniversary of Havana and recalled that Santiago de Cuba, which previously celebrated it, is also, as St. Petersburg, a hero city.

Russian President, Vladimir Putin, is expected to attend the forum on Thursday.

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YOUNG AND ARTIST: Annie Garcés, the Voice of a Dancing Troubadour

For Annie Garcés, one of the new voices seeking a successful position in the Cuban musical landscape, the world of rhythms and strung chords reached her since she was a little girl, when she didn't even dream of shining on stage.

Those first childhood performances in Cantandole al Sol festivals, in the Isle of Youth where she was born, made her discover a talent that later would polish the musical academies, until she graduated as flautist in Havana.

After a few early approximations and the approach to different Cuban interpreters, she was convinced that the Trova was her destiny, and she made that genre in the wide horizon that she seeks to reach with a style of her own with modern and daring proposals.

Annie wants to be a youngster of her time attempting to revolutionize a genre that represents for some people a cliché of the 90’s, when their singers were considered a shadow of the musical elitism.

"The Trova is the genre that gets me crazy: I enjoy singing songs with nice lyrics and an attractive music. Singing other genres that have nothing to do with me would be just a simulation. My proposal right now looks for ties with rhythms like conga and Son music, because I want people to dance and demonstrate, in this way that Trova doesn't have to be something exclusively romantic", she says.

During her years as a student, she had the chance to come closer to the talent and trade of famous Cuban artists who guided her in her task, like Pepe Ordaz, Pancho Amat or Eduardo Sosa.

"I took singing lessons at school, but the true singer is made singing, and those people helped a lot. You can be born with the natural conditions to sing; but you must have an 'angel' and an appropriate repertoire that goes with you. There are people who sing very well, but they don't know how to get to the public; and the important thing is to discover that as you go", says Annie.

Right now she is promoting the launching of her first licensed DVD, Sublime Soul, directed by Yadniel Padrón that constitutes a selection of Cuban trova, that includes La Bayamesa as well as songs of Adrián Berazaín.

"The production of this material was very difficult because it needed a large infrastructure. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it very much. I start singing La Bayamesa, a Capella; but I also included songs like Perla Marina of Sindo Garay; Pasión y Prejuicio, of Noel Nicola; No te empeñes más, of Marta Valdés, among others.

"The objective is to give the public an elegant trova. Sometimes the image people have on the troubadour is him seated holding a guitar. In this case we wanted everything to be very flashy: the minstrels ware blazers and the stage of Covarrubias Room at the National Theater was decorated with original vintage lamps. It’s a mixture of trova with classic music that constitutes my academic training.

"I believe I can make the difference like this because I bid trova with symphonic genres that I show differently, through a renewed image. That is a way of approaching people to a music that maybe had never interested them", highlights Annie.

At present the singer is also preparing her first CD with brand new songs, with the purpose of making the public recognize her through new songs.

According to the artist, trova movement is healthy in Cuba right now. This reality has been confirmed in several national events, despite the idea that the popular taste grows towards commercial styles.

"New generations of minstrels are few in Havana: there are people doing excellent jobs, but attaining an effective transmission is always very complicated.

"However, advertising is a personal task for each artist. There are a lot of people who could not afford to pay the resources to reach higher goals, and yet they make their best effort to do their work more visible. You cannot simply wait for a record house to call you, or make a video clip of five thousand dollars if you can make one with a shorter budget", she says.

Following this line of thoughts, the singer emphasizes that beyond the institutional support, it’s important that the youths are insistent to achieve their purposes, because in all times that sector of the population has been regarded with distrust and suspicion for lacking experience.

"But trust is earned with the quality in the job. If you are given a 'no' for an answer I show my talent and try to change that attitude. I understand is nothing easy and many doors are close on your face, but you must also be very responsible and demonstrate a serious work", ended saying Annie.

Celebs and Social Networking

Until very recently, celebs could only express their opinions when their field of performance called the attention of the so-called traditional media.

Whenever there was a concert, an exhibition or a scientific discovery, journalists went there not only to cover the event, but also to get one or two statements from the celeb on some topic out of his reach, almost always on politics, which of course was in line with the editorial policy of the interviewer’s outlet.

Today, with the appearance of social networking it is no longer quite like that and celebs do not have to wait for journalists to look for them, because Facebook, Instagram, blogs, twitter and Youtube are there. A good example of what I am referring to is that of US President Donald Trump, who, constantly hounded by traditional media that according to him only produces fake news, has made Twitter social networking his favorite outlet to communicate with the world.

By the way, his mistakes on and out of Twitter are anthological, because the fame that his post grants him as a “new emperor” does not allow him to lead the world with the same Mafia methods that a hotel chain is managed with.

Although, everybody knows about baseball, celebs should talk about what they really know, if they’re politicians about politics, if they’re painters about painting, if they’re musicians about music and about tourism if they’re hotel owners. But apparently, such logic seems very complicated for some especially in these days of intrigues in social networks.

Besides Trump, there are some around a bit egocentric, who do not find it enough with the fame they earned from their talent in certain field and decide to venture into journalism.  What in Cervantes’s language could be called professional intrusiveness.

Italian semiologist and novelist Umberto Eco: "Social networks give the right of expression to legions of imbeciles, who beforehand only talked in the bar after a glass of wine, without disturbing the community. They were quickly silenced, but now they have the same right of expression as a Noble Prize laureate. It’s the invasion of the imbeciles.”

Although it sounds easy, journalism is a science that has its rules and one of the most important is that of responsibility. A celebrity who has not yet lost his mind should think very carefully before issuing or amplifying judgments about which he does not really have the slightest idea, at least, as long as the opposite is not proven.

That personality should be aware that a wrong opinion of him can influence thousands or millions of those fans who blindly believe that fame alone allows the celeb to approach any issue.

But that is not the worst thing of the matter. The worst thing is that social networks have become a breeding ground for new celebrities. Any nice guy who does not have the slightest idea of what he is saying can collect a legion of followers in the networks just for having a pretty face.

So now in the networks there are experts in all kind of subjects. If Archimedes lived in these times he would have said: "Give me a cell phone and I will move the world".

The formula of reggaeton is an indisputable example. With a computerized rhythm, a good anthology of obscene words and a synthesized voice, anyone can become another star throwing nonsense right and left in the networks.

But all is not lost. Luckily the applications of social networks yet do not allow to perform surgeries via the Internet because in these technological times surely novice surgeons will not be left out. Hopefully, nobody comes up with the idea because you can be sure that the killing would be indiscriminate ...

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

MERCOSUR will Discuss Cultural Agenda in Paraguay

Asuncion, Jun 6 (Prensa Latina) Ministers and authorities of Culture of the countries of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) will meet from today in this capital to discuss and exchange ideas and projects in favor of cultural development in the region.

The organizers have scheduled for today and tomorrow the 46th Meeting of the Regional Coordinating Committee (RCC), while the main conclave of the meeting, the 43rd Meeting of Ministers and Authorities of Culture, will take place on Friday 8.

This MERCOSUR entity promotes the cultural rights of citizens, generating policies that promote social inclusion through actions which allow cultural enrichment.

It also promotes cooperation at the regional level, carrying out joint projects and programs in the different sectors, promoting the spread of knowledge of the values and traditions of the States Parties, as well as the dissemination of the artistic and cultural expressions of the bloc.

Paraguay received the Pro Tempore Presidency (PPT) of Mercosur Cultural during the 42nd Meeting of Ministers of Culture of the regional bloc, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at the end of 2017.

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Symphonic Concert Opens Arts Festival in Cuba

A concert by the Philharmonic Orchestra of the University of the Arts of Cuba will inaugurate the 9th Arts Festival, an event by the high studies house to take place from June 11 to 17, according to the organizers.

The performance will be held at 21:00 local time and will be hosted by the capital's Mella Theater, where the Brazilian singer Fabiana Cozza will appear on stage as a special guest.

The festival, considered one of the most important events organized by this artistic school, will gather more than 600 local and foreign participants, said in a press conference the rector of the center, Alexis Seijo.

Aimed at establishing a permanent dialogue between the artistic expressions and promoting the work of young creators, the festival proposes an intense program for this edition that includes all art expressions placed in different parts of the city.

Students from universities in Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina and the United States will be present at the event, which includes stage presentations, exhibitions, audiovisual projections, competitions, lectures, master classes, work demonstrations and workshops.

The Bertolt Brecht Cultural Center, the Hubert de Blanck Theater, the Villena Hall of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba, Plaza 31 and 2, and the Cuba Pavilion are among the main venues of the festival.

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Cuban President Recognizes Art as a Means to Forge Respect

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel highlighted the power of art and culture to forge relationships of respect when exchanging with artists who participated in recent events in Peru and the United States.

According to the president, during the People's Summit held last April in Peru it was demonstrated that there is a force capable of uniting Cubans: the identity; and it is time to defend it because in the world some try to fracture it in order to manipulate the history.

Artistic directors such as Elito Revé and Pepe Ordaz told how they performed in Lima, in the context of the celebration of the Summit, to defend their people there through music.

The Cuban president said that the presentations in Peru and the Festival Artes de Cuba that takes place since May 8 at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, prove that art is an irreplaceable space for communication between peoples. In the meeting with artists, held on Wednesday at the cultural center La Plaza, Diaz-Canel considered that the events put to the test the effectiveness of the Cuban system of artistic education and valued the role of art as a bridge builder, his contribution to mutual respect and peace, despite the differences.

The dancer, director, and choreographer Irene Rodríguez celebrated the excellent reception of the American public that awarded the artists with extensive standing ovations, while the singer and composer Zule Guerra highlighted the shared spirituality, good energy and great joy around the festival.

To her surprise, many people sang with them Feeling themes and Latin American Boleros.

The best way for the American people to know who Cubans are is to enjoy our art, said Lele Rosales, singer of the iconic orchestra Los Van Van.

The prejudices fell to the floor, the musicians believed that they were going to play in a very serious event, and when they saw people standing ready to move to the beat of the rhythm, the show overflowed with joy, because Cubans are like that, the artist said.

The members of the Miguel Faílde Orchestra assured that at the Kennedy Center Danzón was danced and they praised a group of casineros (dancers of the casino-style) existing in Washington and composed of people from different countries.

The event combines the different arts and visual arts was represented by works of Roberto Diago, Manuel Mendive, and Roberto Fabelo, contemporary dance by the company Malpaso, the theater by plays directed by Carlos Díaz and Carlos Celdrán, among other artists and events.

Artes of Cuba festival in the US capital will conclude on June 3 with presentations from the National Ballet of the Caribbean country, led by the legendary Alicia Alonso.

  • Published in Culture
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