Maestro: ASO Conductor Leads Youth Orchestra

American and Cuban musicians performed in Cuba last week

Maestro James Ross with the Cuban American Youth Orchestra. (Photo: Nate Ryan)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra’s James Ross led 80 musicians as they played two concerts before Cuban audiences for the first time last week. Between the ages of 18 and 24, the young adults of the Cuban American Youth Orchestra (CAYO) performed at an outdoor square in Matanzas and in the historic Teatro Nacional in Havana. The visit marked a unique, large-scale artistic collaboration between the U.S. and Cuba. It also demonstrated poignantly the universality of music.

What started as a cross-cultural dream in response to the Minnesota Orchestra’s ground-breaking tour to Cuba in 2015 just became a palpable and vital reality this past week,” said Ross. “I feel honored and lucky [to have been part of] the inaugural edition of a project of such far-reaching human and political consequence.”

The Americans spent a full week in Cuba. They were accompanied by mentors from the Minnesota Orchestra and other patrons.

The CAYO played a number of selections. Two new pieces were featured, including one by Cuban composer Guido Lopez-Galivan, who attended a performance with his family. Jorge Amado Molina, a 21-year-old violinist with the CAYO composed the other.