The Havana Lyceum Orchestra to Launch East Coast Tour with Simone Dinnerstein
The Havana Lyceum Orchestra have arrived in the U.S. just ahead of the East Coast Tour they'll embark on with pianist Simone Dinnerstein in support of their critically acclaimed new album, Mozart in Havana (Sony Classical, 2017). The tour marks the Orchestra's American debut, as well as the first time an orchestra of this size has traveled to the U.S. from Cuba since the revolution. A full list of dates is below.
The chemistry that Dinnerstein and the Orchestra have is undeniable. In a glowing review of the album, La Scena Musicale writes of the "instant and sustained impression of cohesion; an uncanny unity of temper and sensibility and interpretation between keyboard and orchestra." The Philadelphia Inquirer calls the album's first movement "a mysterious music box of slippery harmonic progressions that covers a lot of emotional ground and doesn't so much elide with the orchestra's reentry as it evaporates in a wisp of ether." And Colorado Public Radio adds, "The Havana Lyceum Orchestra... plays with a passion and intensity that illuminates the heart of these concertos."
Recorded with the Orchestrain Cuba in June 2016, Mozart in Havana may be Dinnerstein's most ambitious project to date and is a testament to music's ability to cross cultural and language barriers. She conceived of this project in Havana in 2015 when she first performed with the Havana Lyceum Orchestra - a collection of conservatory students, recent graduates and their teachers - at the Encuentro de Jóvenes Pianistas (Meeting of Young Pianists) festival. "When I played with them, I was astonished by their commitment to listening and to rehearsal," Dinnerstein comments, "and by their desire to explore music which can too often be worn away by familiarity, as well as by their beautiful sound - a sound they made despite the fact that even the simplest supplies, like strings and reeds, have been hard to come by in Cuba." Dinnerstein recently spoke with Joshua Johnson on NPR's 1A about the project and tour, which you can listen to HERE.
On returning to the U.S. she invited a group of presenters, fundraisers, friends and music lovers to help make a tour possible. They responded enthusiastically and WXQR signed on immediately as a media sponsor, supporting the project through its extensive network of relationships, broadcast, digital and performance spaces. Families in Dinnerstein's own Park Slope neighborhood volunteered to offer a home base in Brooklyn and will be housing the young musicians. Altogether, the orchestra will perform across the East Coast from Boston to Miami, playing ten concerts plus a series of outreach events in schools and community centers. "The logistical challenge has been immense," says Dinnerstein. "On occasion it has felt overwhelming. But so many people were excited about this orchestra and wanted to bring them to American audiences that the project has had a momentum all its own."
Mozart in Havana was recorded at Oratorio San Felipe Neri over three long, sleepless nights using donated strings and recording equipment brought in by Grammy Award-winning producer Adam Abeshouse. His peerless expertise helped navigate the various challenges of the late-night city soundscape including stray dogs barking, a neighbor jackhammering on his roof and sparrows rustling in the eaves of the building.
Dinnerstein recalls, "My enduring memory from those long overnight sessions is that whenever there was downtime the Orchestra would crowd into the production booth, listening to playbacks. Musicians would share headphones. The conductor, José Antonio Méndez Padrón, sat among them and we would listen with a shared intensity. Everyone wanted the recording to capture the best playing they were capable of, and they would work as long and as hard as they could to realize that aspiration. That, too, was something that I found familiar from my time with Solomon Mikowsky all those years ago."
1-3 Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K 467
4-6 Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, K 488
Mozart in Havana Tour:
St. John's Church, presented by A Far Cry
Mechanics Hall, presented by Music Worcester and Mechanics Hall
New York, NY
Naumburg Orchestral Concerts, Central Park
Kennett Square, PA
Longwood Gardens, Summer Performance Series
George Mason University Harris Theatre, presented by the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra
The Barnes Foundation, Solo Series
New World Center, presented by the New World Symphony
College Park, MD
The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, presented by the National Orchestral Institute
Dinnerstein and the orchestra will also be in residence with the Fairfax Symphony, June 15-16, and at the National Orchestral Institute + Festival, June 25-28, where their concert on June 28 will be a special collaboration between the Havana Lyceum Orchestra and the National Orchestral Institute Orchestra. In addition, Dinnerstein will present a master class at the New World Center on June 22.
Dinnerstein recently spoke with PBS' Articulate about the Goldberg Variations, which you can watch HERE.
Simone Dinnerstein is one of the most acclaimed pianists of her generation - called "an artist of true expressive force" by theWashington Post and "a throwback to such high priestesses of music as Wanda Landowska and Myra Hess" by Slate.The New York-based pianist gained an international following with the remarkable success of her recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations, which she independently raised the funds to record. Released in 2007 on Telarc, it ranked No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Classical Chart in its first week of sales and was named to many "Best of 2007" lists, including those of The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and the New Yorker.
Dinnerstein's performance schedule has taken her around the world since her acclaimed New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall in 2005, to venues including the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Vienna Konzer- thaus, Berlin Philharmonie, Sydney Opera House, Seoul Arts Center and London's Wigmore Hall; festivals that include the Lincoln Center Mostly Mozart Festival, the Aspen, Verbier and Ravinia festivals; and performances with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Dresden Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Berlin, RAI National Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Orquestra a Sinfonica Brasileira and the Tokyo Symphony. Simone Dinnerstein studied with Solomon Mikowsky, Maria Curcio and Peter Serkin and was an Astral artist.
This season, Dinnerstein will release her new album, Mozart in Havana, recorded with the Havana Lyceum Orchestra. The Orchestra will join her on tour in June, making their U.S. debut. Later this season, Dinnerstein will begin touring the premiere of a new concerto for piano and strings written for her by Philip Glass. Also, in the fall of 2017, Dinnerstein will premiere and begin touring her collaboration with choreographer Pam Tanowitz, New Work for Goldberg Variations. Arriving on the 10th anniversary of Dinnerstein's acclaimed recording, the work is a setting for piano and a sextet of female dancers.
José Antonio Méndez Padrón is the founding music director of the Havana Lyceum Orchestra. He has toured Canada, Spain, France, Austria, the U.S., Ecuador and Nicaragua, and five of his albums have received Cubadisco prizes in the past decade. Since 2011 he has been deputy director of the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.
Padrón is a graduate of the University of the Arts in Havana, Cuba, where he specialized in choral direction under María Felicia Pérez and orchestra direction under Jorge López Marín. He has taken advanced classes with important musical directors such as Jorge Rotter, Thomas Hengelbrock, Shalev Ad El and the master Ronald Zollman. In 2011, he studied at the Mozarteum University's Summer Academy with Peter Gülke and the soloists of Salzburg Chamber Orchestra.
The Havana Lyceum Orchestra was founded in 2009 in collaboration with the Lyceum Mozartiano de La Habana, an institution co-founded by the Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation in Austria. It brings together students, recent graduates and professors from the University of the Arts, the National School of Music and the Amadeo Roldán Conservatory. The Havana Lyceum Orchestra has quickly established itself as a central element of Cuba's musical life. The Orchestra has performed extensively in Cuba and abroad to widespread critical acclaim. In 2015, the orchestra performed at Salzburg's annual "Mozart Week" in collaboration with the celebrated Cuban flutist Niurka González for the first time ever in Europe.
It records regularly in Cuba and has won a series of Cubadisco prizes for its work.
The Lyceum Mozartiano de La Habana was founded in 2009 jointly by the office of the Historiador de La Habana Eusebio Leal, the Universidad de las Artes - the most important institution in Cuba for musical training - and the Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation. The associated orchestra trains and performs at the Lyceum Mozartiano, which is also the place where further training occurs in all aspects of classical European music and contemporary Cuban music.