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Behind the vanguard: Fruitful and inclusive arts education

orquestaThe broad and diverse cultural festival entitled “Artes de Cuba: From the Island to The World,” to take place May 8 through June 3 in Washington’s Kennedy Center, reflects the island’s sustained and fruitful arts education program, key to the training of new talent.

An overwhelming majority of the artists who will take part in the program, including those who are based in the United States and Europe, are graduates of the University of the Arts and the network of arts schools that operate throughout the country.

This will be evident from the very opening, when the legendary Omara Portuondo is accompanied by pianists Rolando Luna and Pachequito, saxophonist Yosvany Terry, the Orquesta Miguel Faílde, and the Havana Lyceum Orchestra, conducted by the young Maestro José Antonio Méndez Padrón.

These last two groups, in particular, are examples of the most recent achievements of arts education on the island. The Orquesta Miguel Faílde is composed of young musicians from Matanzas, almost all trained in the musical academies of the city, with a firm commitment to the promotion of danzón (Cuba’s national musical genre and dance) and other genres that define the musical heritage of the region. Meanwhile, the Havana Lyceum Orchestra is rooted in the promotion of concert music with a practical pedagogical experience, which results in the high professional training of its members.

The new generations of dancers of the National Ballet of Cuba and the Irene Rodríguez company, whose performances are eagerly awaited by U.S. audiences, speak of the excellence of their teachers and the island’s educational programs.

They also illustrate the inclusive nature of the system, as based on their qualities and vocations they are provided with access to free arts education. Students come from the most diverse points of the island and receive the same training, regardless of their social background.

This is a principle established by the Revolution in this field, which has ensured the universal human right to education and culture since the early 1960s.


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