UT Students Take Note of Cuban, Mexican and German Musicians

Published: Nov 7, 2012
Violist Joshua Ratliff ’14 participates in a master class with a member of the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.
Violist Joshua Ratliff ’14 participates in a master class with a member of the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.
The master class on Nov. 6 included instruction on violin, cello, clarinet, French horn and percussion. UT language students and faculty members served as interpreters in the classes.
The master class on Nov. 6 included instruction on violin, cello, clarinet, French horn and percussion. UT language students and faculty members served as interpreters in the classes.
Elisabet Fandino ’13, a music performance major from Jacksonville, wasn’t nervous about being critiqued by professional musicians on her piano performance.

“Sometimes it is necessary to have a different person listen and analyze what you just played to give you fresh and new ideas,” said Fandino of the master class she attended Nov. 6 on UT’s campus.

As part of The Florida Orchestra’s presentation of the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba’s (NSOC) visit to Tampa Bay in November, members of the Cuban orchestra gave master classes to pre-selected music students at UT. UT language students and faculty members served as interpreters in the classes.

The NSOC’s two-day residency, which also included a collaborative chamber music concert and full orchestra concert, is part of The Florida Orchestra’s (TFO) multi-year cultural exchange with Cuba. The first phase of the exchange took place this past fall, when the orchestra sent its Principal Winds Quintet to Havana to perform and teach master classes, marking the first time since 1999 that a professional American orchestra had sent musicians to Cuba, and only the second time since the 1959 revolution.

The Cuban master class was just the first of two such cultural exchanges for UT music students.

On Sunday, Nov. 11, the students will have the opportunity to participate in a master class with the Mexican orchestra Orquesta Sinfonica de la Universidad de Guanajuato, along with LUXA 21 trio from Germany, which are in Florida on a three-day residency through the Mexican Consulate of Orlando. The trio will perform contemporary pieces and the orchestra will provide high-level, local Mexican music.

“I’m excited to hear what the cultural influences will be on their take to classical repertoire in terms of musicality and interpretation,” said Fandino. “I’m curious to see the differences and similarities between the two countries.”

Kira Horel, UT’s director of orchestral and string studies, said this kind of international exposure and interaction with professional musicians is unique for students.

“This is a once-in–a-lifetime opportunity,” said Horel. “Not only do the students get to hear a professional orchestra from Mexico perform pieces in concert, but the students also receive the chance to speak with and be coached by musicians from the orchestra.”

Chair of the music department Bradford Blackburn hopes the students walk away with a bigger picture.

“The Nov. 6 event will give students a deeper appreciation of the purpose of art, and its importance in mediating a dialog between cultures, even when politics might drive a wedge between them,” Blackburn said. “The Nov. 11 events will give students the unique opportunity to hear a program of music by Mexican composers being performed by a full, professional Mexican orchestra. Just as significant will be the opportunity to hear a group of professional contemporary music performers from Germany on the very same day. Combine this with the master class and the pre-concert discussion and you have a wealth of artistic activity happening on the UT campus that will leave an indelible impression in the minds of all students and community members who participate or attend.”

The Orquesta Sinfonica de la Universidad de Guanajuato and LUXA 21 guest concert on Sunday, Nov. 11, is free and open to the public. It will begin 7:30 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Tampa, 302 W. Kennedy Blvd. For more information, contact Alicia Gonzalez at agonzalez@ut.edu or (813) 253-6212.