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Ahead of first concert, Minnesota Orchestra meets young Cuban musicians

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On Friday night, musicians from the Minnesota Orchestra will assemble to play the first of two historic weekend concerts at Havana’s Teatro Nacional in Cuba.

The Minnesota Orchestra website includes details of the performance, which will be live-streamed on Minnesota Public Radio's classical site; these will reportedly be the first live music concert broadcasts from Cuba to the United States.

The concerts also will be broadcast live across Cuba on Radio Taino, a Havana-based FM station, and will be available via the European Broadcasting Union.

Led by music director Osmo Vanska, the orchestra will perform an all-Beethoven concert on Friday night.

On Thursday, KSTP reported some musicians visited with music students at the Instituto Superior de Arte, a small university in Havana. All of the university's 1,000 students study the arts, with 500 studying music.

The students first performed for the Minnesota Orchestra musicians, and then the orchestra returned the favor by playing for the students.

MPR's Cuban coverage includes YouTube video of the cultural exchange.

Some of the other visiting Minnesota Orchestra musicians visited Escuela Nacional de Música, a high school with 530 students in Havana.

The Star Tribune's report explained how Minnesota musicians shared personal gifts with those young music students.

Violist Michael Adams spearheaded an effort with three Twin Cities violin shops to bring strings, rosin, chin rests and shoulder rests; such supplies are in short supply on the island. Others brought music method books and sheet music and the story noted that "most players left their music stands behind."

These “friendship gifts” are allowed under the cultural exchange, although the orchestra was discouraged from bringing bags full of American goods.

The Minnesota Orchestra's Instagram feed has photographs from the historic visit.

The visit is getting national coverage from the New York Times and Forbes magazine.

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