First U.S. orchestra to play in Cuba since 1999 sells out concert

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The Minnesota Orchestra played to a sold-out house Friday night in the first performance in Cuba by a full professional U.S. orchestra since 1999, coming just months after the two Cold War rivals announced a thaw in relations.

Few of the visiting Americans speak Spanish, but “the universal language of music” was all they needed, said Mele Willis, the orchestra’s artistic operations manager.

The performance at the 2,000-seat Teatro Nacional, which was broadcast live in Cuba and on Minnesota Public Radio, included famed Cuban pianist Frank Fernandez and the Cuban National Choir. Fernandez was presented with a bouquet, then pulled some of the flowers loose and handed them to a few of the Americans in the orchestra. Read more…

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