Cuban Guitar Orchestra’s Contribution to Local Communities

Approximately 250 children and teenagers from different Havana neighborhoods currently form part of the Orquesta Vocal Clave de Sol. Photo: Taken from Vocal Clave de Sol de Cuba’s Facebook page.

Music group Vocal Clave de Sol received the National Community Culture Award in Cuba.

By IPS Cuba

HAVANA TIMES – The main result of Orquesta Vocal Clave de Sol growing has been keeping a children’s guitar orchestra going, where its members are always motivated to learn every day, teachers and experts agree.

This music group deserved the 2021 National Community Culture Award for its work teaching music to children and teenagers from different Havana neighborhoods.

The orchestra was born in 2009, founded by art teachers Nuria Garcia Reyes and Yamile Garcia Zurita, in the capital’s San Agustin neighborhood, and it now has 250 members, children and teenagers from different Havana neighborhoods.

According to Nuria Garcia, teaching “from a professional standpoint is a great challenge for teachers and a great responsibility concerning the community. In our eyes, every child represents a personal and family story.”

Adding: “Despite the effort it takes for families to bring them twice a week to take part in the project, the students are happy.”

She believes, “this effort represents a transformation in each student because they learn to be more supportive, communicative, responsible; a family with stronger and more genuine ties is created, where different generations learn from one another.”

Bass workshop with teacher Claudia Rodriguez, founder and member of Orquesta Vocal Clave de Sol.

Among all of the positive aspects this community work directed at developing children’s musical talent, including other skills, has, the artist points out that “today, a lot of our students that form part of the project continue studying and will graduate in guitar and the tres cubano, even in further arts education,” she notes.

Achievements, awards and commitments

On the orchestra’s Facebook page, a post about the 2021 National Community Culture Award which Vocal Clave de Sol won in the project category, recognizes how the real leaders of this work are “the children, teenagers and young people who have used music for self-improvement, to grow together and become better people.”

The project’s leaders also congratulated “all of the families that have stood by us over all of these years of hard-work, sacrifice and dedication to this beautiful profession.”

Ever since its creation in 1999, this awards ceremony has become an opportunity to contemplate the work of figures, institutions, groups and projects who are responsible for taking art and culture to any community on the island, and in any conditions.

Held every two years, this awards ceremony has the auspice of the Ministry of Culture and National Council of Cultural Centers; this is how it encourages and recognizes the work of those who contribute towards improving the population’s quality of life, by developing a wide range of the arts.

Elegibility for this award is essentially based on the social impact of artists and cultural projects on the community’s social dynamic. Today, there are over 90 winners of this award, between people and projects, coming from different provinces all over the country.

This time, the 2021 National Community Culture Award was also awarded to musician and composer Silvio Rodriguez and the theater group Los Elementos, from Cienfuegos.

In early October, the Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER) awarded the Medal for this Cuban institution’s 60th anniversary to Vocal Clave de Sol, for its unconditional support for the institution.

Meanwhile, the orchestra’s work has gone beyond national borders and won awards in other countries, such as the Iberian Youth Orchestra Program’s Young Group Award in 2021.

This international contest values the everyday work carried out by performers and groups, according to very exact criteria including technical performance, social inclusion, community engagement, respect for the environment, innovation and gender focus.

Shared chords

Vocal Clave de Sol holds guitar and bass workshops regularly at Havana schools and actively takes part in activities organized by government authorities and culture and education sectors in communities, artistic and leisure spaces in different municipalities in the Cuban capital.

Meanwhile, the project is organizing and holding beginner’s workshops for guitar, percussion, dance, vocal technique and chorus singing for schoolchildren aged between 4 and 19 years old.

The teachers leading this orchestra said the following on Facebook: “we like working, it comforts us and makes us happy. Here, we have a deep talent pool for a long time. We will always have substitutes.”

According to them, “culture can be an escape. It’s an open door to different forms of expression and participation.”

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times.