You Can Be a Hero to Cuban Music Students

I’ve learned about a campaign underway to change the lives of Cuban music students that we met during the Minnesota Orchestra’s recent tour to Havana… and I think it will resonate with you, my readers.

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Julie Gramolini Williams, Marni Hougham, Lauren Ríos Hernández, and John Snow in Havana.

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Final Thoughts on Cuba

For some time now, I’ve been planning on doing a final wrap-up about my time in Cuba with the Minnesota Orchestra. My last tour-related article for MinnPost was a more analytical overview of what the tour meant on a broader scale, and I’m quite proud of it.

But at the same time, the tour touched me deeply on a personal level, and I wanted to capture my personal feelings with a post here on my blog—one that would serve as my final thoughts about the tour, provide profound wisdom that would set the Internet ablaze, and no doubt win me not just a Pulitzer, but a Nobel Peace Prize for my ability to bring two hostile countries together. Continue reading

Reflections on Cuba: Running Down Hemingway’s Cocktails

[Now that things have calmed down, I wanted to share some personal reminiscences about my time in Havana with the Minnesota Orchestra.]

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“My mojito in La Bodeguita, my daiquiri in El Floridita.” – Ernest Hemingway

This iconic line, written out by Ernest Hemingway in regards to two of his favorite drinks in two of his favorite haunts in Havana, was an inspiration. I have a long fondness for rum (the essential ingredient for both drinks), and one of my hobbies is putting together craft cocktails. And since no one knew either Havana or rum like Ernest Hemingway… well, I knew that as soon as I had some downtime, I was going to hit the cobblestone streets of Old Havana, find Papa Hemingway’s favorite rum joints, and experience them for myself. Continue reading

Reflections on Cuba: Talking Pirates in a Pirate Fortress

[Now that things have calmed down, I wanted to share some personal reminiscences about my time in Havana with the Minnesota Orchestra.]

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Like many people, I’ve had a long fascination with pirates. (Well, perhaps I should say like many people in the English-speaking world; people in the Spanish Caribbean tend to have a somewhat different view of the “golden age of piracy.” In these parts of the world, Sir Francis Drake is still remembered as “El Draque,” a monstrous bogeyman used to frighten children.) Continue reading