Goodness knows we don’t need any more official “days” (“Walk Your Dog Day,” “Brush Your Teeth Day”) but this one is actually well-deserved. This Friday has been officially proclaimed Northwest Sinfonietta Day in the state of Washington by Governor Christine Gregoire, and it’s largely because of the supreme effort this local orchestra has made in creating a musical bond with a chamber orchestra in Tacoma’s sister city of Cienfuegos, Cuba. (You can read the main story here.)
For the last two years Sinfonietta director Neil Birnbaum has been working hard alongside congressman Norm Dicks, senator Maria Cantwell and Cuban cultural minister Caridad Abreu, plus the manager of Cienfuegos’ beautifully-restored Teatro Tomás Terry, to convince both countries’ governments that music is a cultural bridge that should definitely be crossed.
This week, they’ve achieved the final part of that bridge: Seven musicians from Cienfuegos’ Orquesta de Cámara Concierto Sur are here in town for two weeks, playing Beethoven side-by-side with the locals in concerts in Seattle, Tacoma and Puyallup. It’s a historic achievement: the first time since the 1959 Cuban revolution that orchestras from the two countries have played together in each country.
The Day happens to coincide with the first concert in Seattle’s Benaroya Hall. Lt. Governor Brad Owen will be there to read the proclamation of “Sinfonietta Day,” as well as the Consuls General, with local mayors attending in Tacoma and Puyallup.
After this weekend the Cubans will present masterclasses, lectures and concerts at the University of Puget Sound and University of Washington, Tacoma, as well as at the Sinfonietta’s gala, before heading over to Arizona to play similar concerts there.
The Northwest Sinfonietta and Orquesta de Cámara Concierto Sur will play Beethoven’s Symphony no. 9 and three dances by Ernesto Lecuona at 7:30 p.m. Friday (Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle), 7:30 p.m. Oct. 6 (Rialto Theater, 310 S. 9th St., Tacoma) and 2 p.m. Oct. 7 (Pioneer Pavilion, 330 S. Meridian Ave., Puyallup). $19-$49. 888-356-6040, nwsinfonietta.org
The OCCS will play free concerts at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 11 (Schneebeck Hall, University of Puget Sound, 1500 N. Warner St., Tacoma) and Oct. 13 (Carwein Auditorium, Keystone Building, University of Washington Tacoma, 1900 Commerce St., Tacoma).
For information on UPS masterclasses and lectures, call 253-879-3555 or visit pugetsound.edu/cubanfestival.