&ldquoAs Alsop faced the cellos and drew from them the most tremendously shaped phrases with every inflection of her baton, you were aware of being in the presence of greatness.&rdquo
12th October 2015

A Steinway From New York Meets Virtuosos in Havana

As the glistening, plastic-wrapped Steinway made its way from the rickety truck onto the uneven cobblestone square of Cathedral Plaza, cameras flashed, as if the instrument itself were a celebrity. The piano had traveled from Astoria, Queens, for the type of concert Cuba had not seen in more than five decades. On Friday, about 3,000 Cubans and foreigners sat in plastic chairs on the plaza, their eyes darting between international virtuosos almost within arm’s reach. On the left side of the makeshift wobbly stage, Lang Lang, China’s fresh-faced piano prodigy, stroked the keys meticulously as Chucho Valdés, one of Cuba’s music superstars, struck heavier tones on a second piano positioned to the right. At center stage, standing before the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra with her baton raised high, Marin Alsop, the American conductor, unified the ensemble…

…The free concert featured works by Tchaikovsky; Gershwin’s “Cuban Overture”; “Victory Stride,” by the American jazz pianist James P. Johnson; and pieces by Mr. Valdés and two other Cuban composers, Ernesto Lecuona and Antonio María Romeu…

…As the concert ended on a high note, Mr. Valdés began to grin, and he and Mr. Lang exhaled almost in unison. The audience exploded into a standing ovation, and Ms. Alsop put away her baton and took out a selfie stick, capturing three beaming artists from three different countries.


10 OCTOBER 2015