Aldo brings back his Havana Heat to Washington with the Northwest Sinfonietta

Cuban pianist and composer Aldo Lopez-Gavilan makes his highly-anticipated return to the Northwest, joining members of the Sinfonietta for an unforgettable evening of music!  Dubbed a “formidable virtuoso” by The Times of London, Lopez-Gavilan excels equally in the worlds of classical, jazz, and chamber music.  His spirit of collaboration has made him a key figure in promoting the cultural exchange between the United States and Cuba.  In April 2016, he was part of a group of musicians who collaborated in Cuba with such renowned U.S. artists as Joshua Bell, Dave Matthews, and Smokey Robinson.

Rooted in classical music, Northwest Sinfonietta seeks to serve diverse audiences, to strengthen its community connections through education and collaboration, and to broaden its influence in the artistic and cultural fabric of the region.

Northwest Sinfonietta recently switched to The Artistic Partner model, which is used successfully by some of the top chamber orchestras in the world; including Academy of St. Martin in the Field, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. The two key components of the model are 1) engaging a small group of rotating Artistic Partners; and 2) sharing artistic decision-making with our musicians. Artistic Partners are not just guest conductors – they will be with us for multiple seasons on a rotating basis, and will collaborate with NWS musicians on both programming and artistic quality.

In 2012 and 2013, NWS was only the third American orchestra to tour and perform in Cuba since the 1959 revolution, prompting Governor Christine Gregoire to proclaim Northwest Sinfonietta as “Washington State’s international cultural ambassador.” In 2014, they became the fifth professional chamber orchestra in the world to adopt the Artistic Partner leadership model.  Their 2015-16 season celebrated the 25th anniversary for the orchestra, as well as the Governor’s Arts Award as an outstanding organization in Washington State.  The Sinfonietta’s 2016-17 season builds on its history of excellence, with three stellar Artistic Partners, world-class soloists, and exciting collaborations with other arts organizations throughout the Puget Sound region.

 

Joshua Bell Brings the ‘Seasons of Cuba’ to Lincoln Center

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NEW YORK—Grammy Award winning violinist Joshua Bell went to Cuba on a trip organized by President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. The aim was to create an exchange between American and Cuban musicians.

The happy result of the trip was the “Seasons of Cuba” concert by Bell and his Cuban friends at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Hall.

Bell acted as the host of the evening and performed throughout most of the concert. As he said at the outset, the program was eclectic.

One of his unexpected discoveries in Cuba was the high quality of classical musicians. At the concert, he presented the Chamber Orchestra of Havana, making its U.S. debut. The ensemble, conducted by Daiana García, is mostly made up of young women. All the members are graduates of the Cuban University of Arts.

Bell and the orchestra began with “Summer” from Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.” Bell has previously made a highly praised recording of the entire work with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, which he now leads. With the Chamber Orchestra of Havana, he again demonstrated his technical proficiency and verve in a piece he has performed countless times.

The musicians moved from baroque music to tango with the Summer section of “The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires” by Argentinean composer Astor Piazzolla.

At the end, everyone joined for an ebullient rendition of ‘Guantanamera.’

Bell said that one of his idols is legendary violinist Jascha Heifetz and, as a tribute, he played Heifetz’s arrangement of the lilting “Estrellita” (Little Star) by Mexican composer Manuel Ponce. Heifetz had played the piece in the 1939 Archie Mayo film “They Shall Have Music.”

Cuban pianist/composer Aldo López-Gavilán came out to solo on his own work, “Epilogo.” Incidentally, as Bell pointed out, López-Gavilán is married to conductor García, who blew her husband a kiss.

The classically trained soprano Larisa Martínez won the audience over with two numbers by Cuban composers: the zarzuela “Cecilia Valdés” by Gonzalo Roig and “Maria La O” by Ernesto Lecuona.

Bell explained that the first Cuban piece he ever played was the effervescent “Para Ti,” which he performed with the pianist/composer Jorge Gómez and his group Tiempo Libre on Bell’s album “At Home With Friends.” The two again joined for the engaging work, which alternated lyrical passages by the violinist and dance rhythms.

Cuban singer and songwriter Carlos Varela has been called “The Poet of Havana,” which happens to be the title of HBO Latino’s documentary film about him. His socially conscious songs, frequently critical of the Cuban government, have made him a hero both for those within his native country and the exile community here. Varela (who accompanies himself on guitar) sang his haunting song about Havana: “Habaname.”

Dave Matthews was one of the Americans on the trip with Joshua Bell and he spoke of the wonderful experience of collaborating with Cuban musicians. He then joined with Varela for one of the Cuban’s songs, “Muros y Puertas” (Walls and Doors). This was followed by three of Matthews’s own pieces, “Samurai Cop,” “Here on Out” and “Ants Marching.”

At the end, everyone joined for an ebullient rendition of “Guantanamera.”

The “Seasons of Cuba” concert was filmed and will be broadcast on “Live From Lincoln Center” on PBS on Dec. 16 at 9:00 p.m. as part of the PBS Arts Fall Festival.

Barry Bassis has been a music, theater, and travel writer for over a decade.

The Washington Post reviews Aldo’s Concert at The Kennedy Center

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October 18

The Kennedy Center’s Fortas Chamber Music series has sought for some years to expand its offerings beyond traditional classical programs, with mixed success. Some of the choices have felt lazy — going with the latest award winner or DownBeat darling rather than seeking out artists who can really connect with local audiences. But Monday’s concert of the Harlem Quartet with pianist-composer Aldo López-Gavilán was lively and engrossing, becoming stronger as it went along. López-Gavilán’s older brother is the string quartet’s first violinist, and the endearing banter between them all evening added to the fun.

The weakest offering came first — “The Adventures of Hippocrates,” a string quartet by Chick Corea. Although Corea has dabbled in classical music for many years — recording works of Mozart and Bartok, for example — his “formal” compositional efforts feel wan and uninvolved. The five movements drifted through templates such as waltz and tango, but the string writing was amateurish and the musical ideas never took wing.Things improved considerably when López-Gavilán joined the group for a pair of jazz standards — “Night in Tunisia” and “Take the A Train” — and a danzon by the Cuban composer Abelardito Valdés called “Almendra.”

There is an insoluble problem with string quartet arrangements of jazz; drums are irreplaceable in this music, and their absence will always be keenly felt (same with the bass, actually). But with the pianist anchoring the rhythm, there was still much to enjoy; each of the Harlem players can solo and riff, with violist Jaime Amador’s sophisticated and precise playing standing out.

After intermission, the group played five pieces by López-Gavilán (the fifth, offered as an encore, was called “Quick Notes”). He’s a terrific composer, with range, imagination and technique. Even though most of the numbers were arrangements, they displayed the only really successful piano/string synthesis of the concert. Some of the dreamier portions had a decidedly French feel — Saint-Saëns meets Legrand — and elsewhere the febrile Cuban rhythms were further refracted in surprising combinations, López-Gavilán’s superb pianism rocking the house as well.
Original article here:

ALDO LÓPEZ-GAVILÁN with HARLEM QUARTET at The Wallis

Located in the heart of Beverly Hills, California, the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (aka “The Wallis”) brings audiences world-class theater, dance and music, performed by many of the world’s most talented and sought-after artists. With eclectic programming that mirrors the diverse landscape of Los Angeles, and its notability as the entertainment capital of the world, The Wallis offers original and revered works from across the US and around the globe.

 

Aldo scores high notes at Napa with his performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue

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Rhapsody in Blue at Lincoln Theatre with special guests Kathleen Battle and Aldo López-Gavilán. The Lincoln Theater is one of Napa Valley’s only large performing arts venues, and it is located right on the historic Veteran’s Home grounds in Yountville. This performance was of the highest quality and moved the audience. From the energetic Rhapsody in Blue performance by Aldo Lopez-Gavilan to the booming vocals of Kathleen Battle, this night rocked the crowd to the edge of their seats.

More info here

 

Phenomenal debut of Aldo López-Gavilán with Orchestra in the US

Cuban Pianist-Composer Aldo López-Gavilán garners rave review for his US orchestral debut performance of Rhapsody in Blue at Festival Napa Valley!

Original encore dazzles audience!

Conductor and orchestra also provided glorious support for Cuban pianist Aldo Lopez-Gavilan’s shimmering, exciting performance of George Gershwin’s grand “Rhapsody in Blue.” Although this was the Ferde Grofe arrangement for symphony orchestra, this listener kept hearing that soul-stirring rendition by Paul Whiteman and his jazz band from the Roaring ‘20s creep in now and again. And we loved the guest artist’s fiery cadenzas. A young man who captivates in both classical and jazz veins, Lopez-Gavilan captured both the rhythmic invention and the melodic inspiration the composer intended. Orchestra and soloist played as one — a radiant reading under the baton of a man who seemed to enjoy the work as much as we did. The guest artist provided a lagniappe with a dazzling encore, one of his own compositions, titled “Oddudua.”

Read the full article here:

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ALDO LOPEZ-GAVILÁN CAPTIVATES DURING HIS DEBUT IN CANADA.

Kingston, ON Canada – March, 24 2016

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Renowned pianist and Cuban composer Aldo Lopez-Gavilan wowed his audience that attended on Wednesday 23 the spectacular concert hall Isabel Bader Center in Kingston, Ontario.

López-Gavilán, in a concert of nearly two hours, included pieces by great composers like Debussy, Brahms and Chopin, American jazz standards and his own compositions.

The elegant music hall adjacent to the renowned University of Queens, is considered one of the most prestigious concert venues in Canada. Designed by the Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta in partnership with the Canadian firm N45 at a cost of 72 million dollars, it has been internationally acclaimed for its extraordinary acoustic conditions and high technology.

These qualities, highlighted by the unique sound of a Grand Piano Steinway & Sons, were certainly enjoyed to the fullest by the virtuoso musician, who did show off a wide range of dynamics and timbres all received by the audience with prolonged standing ovations.

A Cuban classical-jazz mix, straight from Havana, to liven up your Friday

Pianist Aldo and violinist Ilmar López-Gavilán, brothers from Cuba, along with Ilmar’s group, the Harlem Quartet, will bring a heady mix of music to Seattle on Friday, March 13.

By Paul de Barros
Seattle Times music critic

North Americans visiting musical conservatories in Havana can’t help but notice that in Cuba, music education is less segmented than it is here. Student performances for guests can include classical, jazz, Afro-Cuban, bolero, salsa and pop — all in one recital. That’s one reason Cuban jazz players often have such strong classical chops: They’ve been studying piano since, as we say of our Nashville cats, “they’s babies.”Aldo+HQ
A rare glimpse of Cuban pan-musicality is on view this weekend as the López-Gavilán brothers — pianist Aldo and violinist Ilmar, with the Harlem Quartet — make their West Coast debut in a program of jazz, classical and Afro-Cuban music for piano and string quartet.

Aldo López-Gavilán (at center) was a prodigy who made his professional debut at age 12 with Cuba’s Matanzas Symphony Orchestra. Since then, he has done world tours, composed for film and theater, released six albums and been featured in the film “¡Manteca, Mondongo y Bacalao con Pan!” — a documentary about Latin jazz in Cuba. Possessed of dazzling technique and rhythmic fire, López-Gavilán is something to behold. Conductor Claudio Abbado invited him to perform as a soloist in a concert celebrating the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth.

The Harlem String Quartet made its public debut in 2006 at Carnegie Hall and most recently recorded the Grammy Award-winning “Hot House,” with pianist Chick Corea — also in town this weekend — and vibraphonist Gary Burton. The group (shown from left in the photo): Ilmar López-Gavilán and Melissa White (violins), Matthew Salkind (cello) and Jaime Amador (viola).

Part of the attraction of this program is the set list, which includes Corea’s classical piece, “The Adventures of Hippocrates,” Wynton Marsalis’ string quartet, “At the Octoroon Balls,” Billy Strayhorn’s swing-era classic, “Take the A Train,” and original works by Aldo López-Gavilán himself.

7:30 p.m. Friday, March 13, at Nordstrom Recital Hall, Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle; $10-$55 (206-215-4747 or nwsinfonietta.org). The Seattle performance is followed by shows Saturday in Tacoma and Sunday in Puyallup.

Paul de Barros: 206-464-3247; pdebarros@seattletimes.com; or follow him on Twitter @pdebarros

 

Aldo to play Piano Marathon Cubano in Miami and Washington

Piano Marathon Cubano featuring Jorge Luis Pacheco, Harold López-Nussa, and Aldo López-Gavilán (Cuba)

Havana, January, 20, 2015

Three of Cuba’s top jazz pianists perform a lively two-hour marathon concert with one, two, or all three onstage at any given time.

Pacheco is also a percussionist, composer, and vocalist, while López-Nussa is an outstanding young jazz interpreter, and López-Gavilán, a jazz and classic painist and composer was also born to a family of acclaimed musicians.

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Aldo Lopez-Gavilan’s latest album a winner at Cubadisco 2014!

Havana, May 15, 2014

De todos los colores y tambien verde (Producciones Colibri 2013) , Aldo López-Gávilan’s latest album won the prestigious music Cuban award CUBADISCO 2014 in the Instrumental Music Category.

Each year Cubadisco is dedicated to a country and a musical genre and also pays tribute to artists and personalities with a distinguished creative work within the Cuban Music industry. Specialized conferences, expositions, colloquiums, concerts and CD launching take place during the event, as well as a wide musical program at different theaters and salons of Havana, with the participation of many Cuban and foreign groups and singers.

The album will be available for download in most music stores online.

A preview is available here