Photo by Cameron Wittig
Osmo Vänskä of the Minnesota Orchestra
International diplomacy by way of orchestral performance might sound novel, but it’s “an old, old tradition” according to Osmo Vänskä, Minnesota Orchestra music director. He and his orchestra often traverse the globe to champion their music, but being chosen to pierce a cultural and diplomatic freeze 50 years in the making takes it to the next level. On May 13, Vänskä and company will travel to Havana, Cuba, for the International Cubadisco Festival and partner with Cuban musicians for a performance. The trip also marks 85 years since the orchestra (then known as the Minneapolis Symphony) last visited Cuba. Vänskä couldn’t be prouder of their participation, which he says feels like a personal victory after a tumultuous two years on his home turf. “We want to show that we are a great orchestra, and we can be real ambassadors of Minnesota.”
Want to listen? Tune into MPR on May 15, or KSJN 99.5 FM on May 16 at 7 p.m. to hear the MN Orchestra's performance in Cuba.
Want to watch? The MN Orchestra brings a piece of the island home with their July 5 performance alongside Cuban choir Coro Entrevoces.
The last time the Minnesota Orchestra was in Cuba, they were known as the Minneapolis Symphony. In 1929 (left), music director Henri Verbrugghen boards a steamship to Havana with musicians and staff.