By Conway Jones
HAVANA TIMES — The Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra departed on its 11 day Cuba Tour earlier this week. The 57 youth orchestra members will give concerts in Cienfuegos, Santa Clara, and Havana.
Omid Zoufonoun, Principal Conductor of the Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra, who is leading the group, said “This is an opportunity that may not come again.”
The tour group also includes 13 chaperones and 35 supporter tour members – “friends of the Youth Orchestra” – donors, parents, additional family members, and friends.
“The youth orchestra has been committed to artistic excellence for 53 years. I am sure that their musicianship will resonate throughout Cuba,” said Bob Schwartz, major supporter, Oakland Symphony.
The Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra has helped thousands of young musicians discover their passion for music through educational programs, cultural exchanges, and performance opportunities. The orchestra has previously toured in the Caribbean Islands, Costa Rica, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and Cuba.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee expressed her support in a letter of introduction in which she said, “It is my pleasure to extend my support to the Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra as they embark on their exciting trip to Cuba! I know this visit will inspire musical collaboration and social engagement for these young ambassadors.”
“Believe you me, both Americans and Cubans stand to benefit from renewed relations and it is my hope that this opportunity serves to remind us that we can do more for our world together than the things that we allow to separate us,” Lee continued.
The Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra is recognized as an outstanding Bay Area music program. The Youth Orchestra presents several classical and youth outreach concerts each season.
The Youth Orchestra consists of nearly 90 talented music students (aged 12-22 years) from 46 schools and more than 30 cities in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Youth Orchestra is open by audition to all qualified young people from Bay Area schools. No musician is excluded for reasons of financial need.
Follow the Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra’s Tour of Cuba blog at: oaklandsymphony.org/youth-orchestra-blog