Category Archives: Minnesota Orchestra

Cuba, Day 1: From frost to incredible warmth

Street scene from the bus as during the Minnesota Orchestra's tour to Havana Cuba. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

The day began with frost warnings up in the Arrowhead and the car heater on high for the drive to MSP. And it wrapped with the lovely humidity of what feels like a mid-July evening in Minnesota, set to the soft crash of Caribbean waves.

We’d been a little worried about receiving a less-than-welcoming welcome at the Havana airport, based on our tense relations with Cuba. But there was only the usual visa- and form-checking as in any international airport, no scowling guards, no guns—and then we were through doors and onto the sunny, palm-tree-lined Havana streets.

After only a day here, I realize I have too many headlines of tense US/Cuban relations archived in my head; of Castro throwing barbs at American presidents, and American presidents throwing them right back. What gets lost in all that political bristle are the beautiful individual faces I saw today. So many smiles at the visiting Americans, so many wishes of welcome to us, everyone hoping that this trip—the first of an American orchestra here in years and years—represents one small start for something miraculous to happen between our two countries.

Photos by Nate Ryan

View from the Melia Cohiba hotel where the Minnesota Orchestra is staying during their stay in Havana Cuba. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Bus trip to Hotel Nacional

A baseball stadium seen from the bus as during the Minnesota Orchestra's tour to Havana Cuba. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

The Malecon, the Havana landmark road along the sea, seen from the bus as during the Minnesota Orchestra's tour to Havana Cuba. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Dancing stilt-walkers and street musicians welcomed the Minnesota Orchestra at the start of a brief walking tour of old Havana, Cuba. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Manny Laureano joins dancing stilt-walkers and street musicians as they welcomed the Minnesota Orchestra at the start of a brief walking tour of old Havana, Cuba. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Street musicians as they welcomed the Minnesota Orchestra at the start of a brief walking tour of old Havana, Cuba. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

(L-R) Roma Duncan, Manny Laureano, Marilyn Carlson Nelson, and Osmo Vanska, Kevin Smith, and Dianne Brennan with dancing stilt-walkers and street musicians as they welcomed the Minnesota Orchestra at the start of a brief walking tour of old Havana, Cuba. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Orchestra Musicians, and members of the People to people tour pose for a group photo  at the start of a walking tour of old Havana, Cuba. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Havana Cathedral photographed during a walking tour with The Minnesota Orchestra in  old Havana, Cuba. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Old Havana, Cuba. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

The long first day of travel ended with a welcome dinner for the Minnesota Orchestra at the Hotel Nacional. Havana, Cuba. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Prior to a welcome dinner Cuban choir, Coro Entrevoces  performed for the Minnesota Orchestra at the Hotel Nacional. Havana, Cuba. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Prior to a welcome dinner Cuban choir, Coro Entrevoces  performed for the Minnesota Orchestra at the Hotel Nacional. Havana, Cuba. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Mojitos welcome the Minnesota Orchestra at the Hotel Nacional. Havana, Cuba. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Welcome reception at the Hotel Nacional. Havana, Cuba. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

The Malacon viewed from the Hotel Nacional. Havana, Cuba. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

The Malacon viewed from a reception for the Minnesota Orchestra at the Hotel Nacional. Havana, Cuba. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

The Malacon. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

A welcome dinner for the Minnesota Orchestra took place in the 1930 room at the Hotel Nacional, a reference to the last time the Minnesota Orchestra was in Cuba, back in 1930. Havana, Cuba. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

The welcome dinner for included a performace by local musicians during the meal at the Hotel Nacional, Havana Cuba. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Marilyn Carlson Nelson and Manny Laureano dance the Cha-Cha during a welcome dinner at the Hotel Nacional, Havana Cuba. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

The Hotel Nacional, Havana Cuba. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

More photos from Day 1 in Cuba

Photos: Minnesota Orchestra takes flight to Havana, Cuba

The Minnesota Orchestra's departure to Havana Cuba. Minneapolis Saint Paul Airport. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

The members of the Minnesota Orchestra — and our friends in the media — got an early start for the Minnesota Orchestra’s landmark trip to Cuba today. After months of preparation, the musicians enjoyed a champagne toast aboard the plane before touching down and getting their first glimpse of Havana.

Classical Minnesota Public Radio will broadcast two distinct, live historic performances by Music Director Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra from Havana, Cuba, on May 15 and 16 at 7 p.m. CDT both nights. (Details)

Channel  45 TV reporting on MN Orchestra's departure to Havana, Cuba from the Minneapolis Saint Paul Airport. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

The Minnesota Orchestra's departure to Havana Cuba. Minneapolis Saint Paul Airport. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Waiting to board the chartered flight to Havana Cuba. Minneapolis Saint Paul Airport. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

The Minnesota Orchestra's flight was a direct charter to Havana, Cuba. May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

On board the Minnesota Orchestra's chartered flight to Havana Cuba.  May 13th, 2015. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

A champagne toast. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Orchestra president Kevin Smith (left), guests of the orchestra and musicians enjoy a champagne toast en route to Havana. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Orchestra musicians celebrate months of preparation with a champagne toast. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Orchestra president Kevin Smith and Classical Movements tour company director Johan van Zyl. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Music Director Osmo Vanska settling down for the flight to Havana Cuba.  MPR photo by Nate Ryan

View from the sky. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Landing in Havana. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Deplaning. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Minnesota Orchestra on the ground in Havana, Cuba. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Osmo Vanska, Erin Keefe and the Minnesota Orchestra pose for a photo on the tarmac. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Airport arrivals. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

José Martí International Airport. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Boarding the bus to the hotel. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Motorcycles at the airport exit. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Classic cars in Cuba. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Cars in Cuba. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Music Director Osmo Vanska and MPR's Brian Newhouse. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Che Guevara sculpture on building edifice. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Cuban flag. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Classic cars are everywhere. MPR photo by Nate Ryan

Streets of Havana. MPR photo by Nate Ryan