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Photos: Minnesota Orchestra’s final 24 hours in Havana

Osmo Vänksä

The Minnesota Orchestra closed out their whirlwind tour of Havana Saturday night with an awe-inspiring performance of both the Cuban and American national anthems. Classical MPR’s Brian Newhouse writes, “‘Burst into song’ is cliché, but that is exactly what happened, a mix of shock and joy on those faces. An American orchestra playing the Cuban National Anthem? While the roar of applause afterward was still going, the Orchestra went right into the Star-Spangled Banner. That’s when the tears began. The Cubans didn’t know the words, of course, but they instantly knew the music, and the symbolism of playing the two anthems back-to-back.”

While the trip was so intently focused on music — both in terms of outreach and education — as well as performance, it’s important to get a final tour of the surrounding area. Photographer Nate Ryan captured the scenes, the performances, and the after-hours fun before the members of the Orchestra boarded their charter back home.

Saturday morning around Havana

Residents of Havana on the street as a pedicab goes by.

Mural of Che Guevara. MPR Photo / Nate Ryan

Broadcast engineer Johnny Vince Evans riding in a Desoto convertible.

The Havana skyline.

Desoto convertible dashboard.

Driving down the Malecón.

A woman smokes outside of a small restaurant.

Banyan tree.

Palm trees line the road in Havana.

Havana apartment building.

Hotel Cohiba outdoor lunch.

Motorcycles and travel cases.

Havana street scene.

A coconut drink on a sunny Saturday in Havana, Cuba.

Live performance at Teatro Nacional de Cuba

Featuring performances of the Cuban national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, and pieces by Caturla, Bernstein and Prokofiev.

A musician reviews the score before the May 16th performance

Trombonist warming up

Anthony Ross applies rosin to his bow.

View from the Teatro Nacional de Cuba

Sculptures outside the plaza

Guests dropped off in front of the theater.

A quick candid snap of rehearsal.

Osmo Vänskä takes a bow.

The audience, already standing for the Cuban national anthem, applauds.

The Minnesota Orchestra perform The Star Spangled Banner

A view from the strings section.

Tubaist Steven Campbell.

Trumpet player Manny Laureano.

The woodwinds section of the Minnesota Orchestra.

Osmo Vänskä viewed from behind the harps.

Osmo Vänksä

The audience rises to their feet for the first of several ovations.

Osmo Vänskä reacts to the audience's applause.

The Minnesota Orchestra bows as the audience gives them another standing ovation.

Post-concert at Café Habana

Musicians Kate Nettleman and Manny Laureano talk on the way to Habana Cafe.

Walking up the stairs at Habana Cafe.

Minnesota Orchestra musicians arrive at Habana Cafe.

Osmo Vänskä joined a jazz ensemble, playing his clarinet.

Osmo Vänskä playing clarinet on stage at Habana Cafe

Osmo Vänskä performs with a Cuban jazz ensemble. MPR Photo / Nate Ryan

The Habana Cafe.

Dancers on stage

The trip home

Minnesota Orchestra board the Delta charter back to Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Family and fans await the return of the Minnesota Orchestra and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

The musicians arrive through customs.

A warm welcome from fans at MSP.

Complete coverage can be found at classicalmpr.org/cuba