A choir of lady graduates from Smith College in the United States delighted Cuban audiences in Matanzas and Havana with pieces from the Italian baroque repertoire, during the two performances that made up its first visit to Cuba.

Conducted by maestro Jonathan Hirsh, the one-and-a-half hour long performances opened with Stabat Mater by Giovanni Battista Pergolessi (1710- 1736), and closed with Gloria by Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741).

A choir of lady graduates from Smith College in the United States delighted Cuban audiences in Matanzas and Havana with pieces from the Italian baroque repertoire, during the two performances that made up its first visit to Cuba.The first concert was on July 28 at the Church of San Pedro Apóstol in Matanzas, some 100 kilometers east of Havana, and the second one on July 29 at Havana’s Teatro Nacional (National Theater) Covarrubias Hall.

Sharing the stage with choir were the Havana Chamber Orchestra, the Música Eterna Orchestra, and the male voices of the Cuban Exaudi, D´Profundis, Sine Nominus, the Schola Cantorum Coralina and Vocal Leo choirs and the Matanzas Chamber Orchestra.

The program featured the choir’s overall highly interpretative quality and that of soprano Katie Lipow in particular, during seven solo performances and as a duet.

Hirsh told The Havana Reporter that teamwork between the U.S. and Cuban musicians had not been strained because, in addition to their dedication and prior knowledge of the works, the Cuban artists “are fabulous”.

Hirsh added that „apart from their training, they were very open and warm.

This is the first time I have worked with musicians whose honest work makes them smile”, and he also sang the praises of the Cuban public.

“I personally enjoy rehearsals more than concerts, because concerts are for the audience. This first trip to Cuba has far exceeded our expectations,” the maestro commented.

Hirsh got his master’s degree and PhD as choir director at the University of Michigan and completed his studies at Amberst College.

José Antonio Méndez Valencia, director of the Matanzas Choir said the visit “compliments those already made by U.S. choirs to our country this year”.

“These represent significant exchanges between musicians and choral groups. This one in particular was very important for the performances of great universal choir repertoire works,“ he stressed.

Founded in 1871 in Northampton, Massachusetts, Smith College is one of the United States’ largest universities, specializing in women’s education.

Its choral program dates back to 1885, and its choirs have traveled to Europe and Central and South America.

The U.S. choir’s visit was organized by the Music Institute, the Concert Music Center of Cuba and Classical Movements, an institution with 20 years of experience in coordinating musical groups tours to Cuba.

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