Welcome to Cuba!
Immerse yourself in Cuban culture on this exploration of Cuban musical traditions. Learn the fascinating history of the rhythms that characterize Cuban music through interactive workshops with Cuban directors and rehearsals with Cuban singers and instrumentalists. Explore the fascinating and ever-shifting international relationships between Cuba and the United States.
Reach out to the Cuban people to forge new friendships and connections through shared concerts in magnificent venues, interactive outings to houses of art and music, goodwill concerts and social activities with Cuban hosts. There is no better time to visit this musically rich, enchanting destination and to be immersed in all that Cuba has to offer as you share your music with local people.
Welcome to Cuba, the largest island in the Caribbean Sea! Arrive in Havana’s Jose Marti Airport, named after the national hero whose lyrics resonate in the popular song Guantanamera. Your Music Contact International tour manager and Cuban guide will be waiting to greet you. Together board a private motor coach and enjoy an introduction to intriguing Havana.
Check into a comfortable hotel and refresh before embarking on an orientation walk through the historic streets of Havana Vieja. See the glorious Cathedral of Havana, fortifications around Plaza de Armas, charming courtyards and brilliantly colored homes, shops, galleries and restaurants pulsing with music.
This evening, your group will be treated to a welcome dinner of local specialties as your tour manager previews the days ahead. Cuban dance lessons may also be arranged.
Begin your first full day in Havana with a music workshop led by a talented Cuban director. Learn and practice Cuban rhythms with a pro!
Next, enjoy lunch. Rehearsal can be scheduled this afternoon.
At night, participate in a friendship concert with a local ensemble whose members will perform, share music and socialize with you. Dinner will be arranged and tickets for jazz and cabaret shows can be organized upon request.
Today, visit one of Cuba’s renowned performing arts institutions. Meet and collaborate with local musicians and experience firsthand Cuba’s exemplary commitment to teaching and integrating the arts into daily life.
In the afternoon, spend time in one of Havana’s premier museums: Museo de Bellas Artes, with its contemporary works by Cuban and international artists, or Museo de la Revolucion, housed in the former Presidential palace, which chronicling the events of the Cuban revolution.
In the evening, perform a concert for the Cuban people. Venue possibilities include some of the finest in the city: Teatro Amadeo Roldan, Basilica San Francisco, as well as more intimate churches and community theaters.
This morning, check out of the hotel in Havana and depart for the provinces to experience historical, cultural and musical traditions elsewhere on the island. You might go to Matanzas, known as “The Athens of Cuba,” a land of poets, drummers and writers where the Cuban rhythms danzón and rumba originated. The majestic city of Cienfuegos, known as “The Pearl of South,” is another possibility. Residents of Cienfuegos love music and treasure their native great band leader Benny Moré.
Check into a comfortable hotel, and join your guides for an orientation walk, followed by lunch.
Later, enjoy a fascinating Afro-Cuban folkloric presentation in which dancers embody and tell the stories of West African gods associated with Yoruba, the religion traditionally practiced by Cubans of African descent.
Today, embark on a memorable excursion to see colonial highlights in Trinidad, creative endeavors in Santa Clara, daily life in Sancti Spiritus or the scenic beaches of Varadero.
The day will be enhanced with a performance opportunity or community service project according to your interests.
After breakfast, return to Havana, stopping across the bay at El Morro, the largest fortress in the Americas that affords excellent group photo opportunities and views. You can also peruse the local crafts market.
Afterwards, settle into a hotel, and relax before dinner.
Tonight, a festive farewell meal rounds out your memorable stay.
Return home with wonderful memories of your musical exchange in thrilling Cuba!
FRIENDSHIP CONCERTS IN CUBA
Our friendship concerts are a featured experience on our tours and are at the heart of our mission to foster cultural connections through music. We benefit from a vast international network in the choral world built over our thirty years' experience of helping choirs share their music both in the United States and abroad. Your choir will share a venue and a concert program with a host choir from the region. Your singers will have the chance to hear their host choir's repertoire (often showcasing local musical styles) and to share your own repertoire in turn. Fellowship time usually follows the friendship concert, giving both choirs the chance to mingle and enjoy the camaraderie of creating cross-cultural connections through a shared love of music.
Havana, Cuba’s capital, was founded in 1514 by the Spaniard Diego Velazquez. To protect the city, the Spanish built a wall and constructed huge fortresses at the entrance to the harbor. Both the Castillo de la Real Fuerza and the Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro are still standing today. Together with the wall, they constitute the perimeter of Havana Vieja (Old Havana)—the heart and soul of the capital city and a UNESCO International Heritage site. Other sections of Havana include Vedado, which is primarily occupied by offices and hotels; Centro Habana, the residential area where much of life takes place on the streets; and Miramar, home to expensive hotels, restaurants and foreign embassies.
Born in Havana, Digna Guerra’s career in choral conducting and education spans 50 years. She has served as director of the Choir of Radio and Television and the National Opera Choir of Cuba and currently directs the Coro Nacional of Cuba, Entrevoces (a Chamber Choir which has received numerous international awards), and the National Youth and Children’s Choirs of Cuba. She has taught courses and workshops in various countries in cooperation with festivals and educational institutions.
Today, Cuba is divided into 16 administrative provinces, each with its own identity. West of Havana is the tobacco growing valley, a mountainous region known for lush vegetation and limestone mogotes. East of Havana are welcoming cities such as Matanzas, Cienfuegos and Santa Clara, where music is loved and performing arts are practiced and enjoyed in many forms. Additionally, the beautiful colonial towns of Sancti Spiritus and Trinidad are viable day trips offering artisan-made goods, historic architecture and live music opportunities. The beaches of Varadero are about a two-hour drive from Havana. The culture and talents of local people in all of these destinations are well worth discovering.