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SpanishEnglishCubadisco 2015 - Scenes from Cubadisco 2015 Part I

Scenes From Cubadisco 2015, Part I:  The Press Conference and the Awards Ceremony
Article and photos by Bill Tilford, all rights reserved

Special thanks to the Instituto Cubano de la Música, the Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo de la Música Cubana and the Cubadisco Organizing Committee for making this possible.  An extra helping of thanks to Jorge Gómez, President of the Cubadisco Awards Committee, and Iliana Pérez of ICM.

One of the two Gran Premios

Cubadisco is much more than an awards ceremony; there are several days of concerts in different venues, a symposium, a trade fair, receptions and, of course, a press conference.  This installment will show you some scenes from the press conference and the awards ceremony, both of which I was able to attend.   But first, let's take a closer look at the physical award:

To the left is the original handcrafted prototype of the Cubadisco award. Its present-day descendant comes in a variety of sizes with the Gran Premio being the largest (there are two of those this year) and smaller awards for albums, producers etc.  While visiting the ICM offices before the awards ceremony, I was able to see the collection of them as they were awaiting processing.

Some of the concerts associated with Cubadisco begin a few days before the press conference and the awards ceremony, but the press conference is still the event that begins to engage the public on a more national and international level.  This year, it was held in the Habana Café, which is next to the Hotel Melia Cohiba, on May 14, 2015.  Since Russia was the invited Country of Honor (each year, a different country has this distinction), its delegation was present, as was the Music Director of the Minnesota Orchestra, Osmo Vänskä, with a contingent from the United States. The Minnesota Orchestra would later play two privately-underwritten concerts at the Teatro Nacional. Some of the US press also attended this time, and although I normally refrain from any comments that might appear to sound political in these pages,  I am going to share a cultural observation here. In the future, it would be better for the US press to send reporters who did not insist upon using English at an event like this (or alternately,  they should bring their own translators with them if for some extraordinary reason they cannot find a hispanohablante who is up to the job).  The event began with some light Classical music (left).  A few photographs from the press conference follow:

Left: Russian delegation; center microphone: Orlando Vistel, President, Instituto Cubano de la Música; right: Digna Guerra, one of the 2015 Gran Premio winners

Left: Orlando Vistel, President, Instituto Cubano de la Música; center: Digna Guerra, one of the Gran Premio winners; right: Cary Diez, Director of the Cubadisco Organizing Committee

Russia and the US share the table (to the right of Cary Diez is Osmo Vänskä, Music Director of the Minnesota Orchestra, with translator). 

The awards ceremony was held in the iconic Tropicana in Marianao, which is now celebrating its 65th year, although its present form with the cabaret owes much to architect Max Borges Recio, who created the Arcos de Cristal which define it today and helped to make it a national monument. Approximate capacity is 1700 persons.  I have been told that in order to fully appreciate the splendor of the place, you need to be there at night, and the ceremony was in the afternoon.  Still, it is very impressive even by day, so let's take a quick look around the place before we get to the awards ceremony: 

Inside the Arcos de Cristal

Above:  four perspectives on the exterior.  The dining and dance floor areas are not shown.   

And now, the moment you've been waiting for, the Awards Ceremony: 

Above: at the microphone: Jorge Gómez, President of the Cubadisco Awards Committee

Digna Guerra, one of the Gran Premio winners for Oh Yes

Like the GRAMMY awards ceremony in the US, not every award was presented at the main event, and there was entertainment as well as awards presentations.  Unlike the GRAMMY awards, this was not an event dominated by what television producers perceive to be popular tastes.   One of the Gran Premio winners (Oh Yes by Digna Guerra y Coro Entrevoces) is a recording of traditional Negro Spirituals (their term, but used historically in the US as well) in English.  They shared the prize with a certain Timba band with which you might be familiar:

Alexander Abreu, one of the Gran Premio winners  (& winner of the Música Popular Bailable-Maestros category) for La vuelta al mundo

El Tosco & Alexander Abreu

In a show of unity among artists, El Tosco ascended the stage to salute Alexander Abreu and vice versa.  NG La Banda's En la calle una vez más was a nominee in the Música Popular Bailable-Maestros category.  Next year, the central theme for Cubadisco 2016 will be Música Popular Bailable.  It should be glorious. 

Left:  Jose Luis "El Tosco" Cortes; Right: Ernán López-Nussa

Left:  Septeto Santiaguero wins Son Tradicional; Right: entertainment at the ceremony

Let's close with the happiest man in the Tropicana: 


Sunday, 19 July 2015, 05:29 PM