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The first concert of the Habana Clásica Festival is already history

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Photographer: Fabrizio Sansoni

Culminating with an embrace between festivals, Marcos Madrigal, gives honors to Maestro Guido López-Gavilán for the closing of the XXXIV Edition of the Havana Contemporary Music Festival and the beginning of the IV Edition of the Habana Clásica Festival. 

The Basílica Menor del Convento de San Francisco de Asís was the place agreed upon to open the curtain of an event that comes to us renewed, after a long pause of two years. With words of Miriam Escudero, Director of the Esteban Salas Musical Heritage Office, the curtain opens for what will be a luxury program and, after, both Artistic Directors, Marcos Madrigal and Guido López-Gavilán, of the beginning and end of both festivals. 

The Basilica Menor was full. It is not usually full in the usual concerts but this time, the Habana Clasica Festival has captured the attention of the Cuban public, with the sensitivity that allows to distinguish what is different, what is special in this edition. The honor of the presence of Masters Juan Piñera and Nicola Sani, both Composers in Residence, together with Master Roberto Valera and other distinguished figures such as Miguel Barnet, Honorary President of the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba and, at his side, Princess Patricia Ruspoli, member of the Ruspoli family, heirs of the Papal Nobility of Rome. In addition, the Swiss Embassy in Cuba and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), with Mr. Mauro Reina, Ambassador, and Mr. Lorenzo Suarez, Deputy Director of SDC, as the leading donor of this edition, were also present. 

Opening the concert, the young Italian conductor Emanuele Quaranta, gave us an almost literary piece. The contemporary Riflessioni sull’Indifferenza, arranged by Maestro Nicola Sani for flute and string orchestra, was an exciting opening with a format rarely seen, melodies out of time, with violas and violins arranged around the hall to envelop us in a composition, as a philosophical treatise, on indifference or, as the Maestro himself presented it, the corporeal way to fill the sound with words. The flute occupies the first note of the Festival and, for this, who better than Niurka González and the accompaniment of the strings of “Música Eterna.” Beyond the concept, a very accurate choice to raise the curtain.

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La lenta noche en tus ojos continues the evening, a premiere that Roberto Valera gives us, a piece that is very similar to it. The softness of romantic melodies under the direction of Guido López-Gavilán in the intermission of farewell and reunion. Followed by  a creation by Piñera, this time dedicated to the person who did the most for the preservation of our Heritage, for our Old Havana, Dr. Eusebio Leal, eternal historian of the City of Havana, in a well-deserved honor from the stones of the old baroque church. Accompanying this piece, on the occasion of “Epic Habaneras,” the violin of Cuban Lissy Abreu, as soloist, fascinates the public of her hometown and most beloved auditorium. 

Opening the way to a creation by Carlos Fariñas, the Chamber Orchestra interprets Punto y Tonada and follows, at the piano, the long-awaited premiere at the Festival of its Artistic Director, Marcos Madrigal, giving us the vitality of his piano, and delivering to his favorite public the best he has, beyond virtuosity, his musical spirit in the great work of his career which is, without doubt, the Habana Clásica, the best gift that a son of Cuba can give to his country. Two Estampas for piano and strings, Guido’s own creation, are the first piano notes of this musical feast.

And closing the curtain of this first meeting, at least in La Basilica Menor, a singular moment was reserved for us. “Eternal Music” accompanies a Steinway four hands, in a piece by Aldo López-Gavilán with his formidable pianism and the characteristic colors of his compositions. Danza del Dragón Violeta, with arrangements for flute reserving space, once again, for the delicate harmony of Niurka González and the violin of Lissy Abreu, with the presence of Guido’s baton. Two López-Gavilán on stage and the piano four hands, two more by Marcos Madrigal, in an unsuspected swing of sensitivity, for a closing that narrates the transition from one festival to another, from one era to another, in the palpable joy of both pianists.

Jumping from one place to another, the Habana Clásica evening continues under the sacrosanct halo of the Church of San Francisco de Paula, a work of art in itself, surrounded by the incomparable brush of Zaida del Río, home of the Conjunto de Música Antigua “Ars Longa“, a scene prepared in detail by Luis Ernesto Doñas. Mixing theater with music, in a tribute to Brindis de Salas, the violinist himself comes back to life to tell us his story. A touch of drum and an extraordinary solo by Lissy Abreu, played for the Virgin of La Caridad del Cobre, Patroness of Cuba for Catholics and Yorubas, and leaving us in the lightness that invokes the cultural mix of our origins, promising us an unnameble party, as another illustrious writer, the great Lezama, said, because every good syntagma will always be brief when it comes to the accompaniment of beauty.

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