Professor emeritus records with Cuban National Symphony

first_imgPhoto courtesy of Jeffrey Jacob When President Obama announced his plan to reestablish diplomatic relations with Cuba, allowing for more Americans to travel to the island, he opened the door to give Jeffrey Jacob a unique opportunity: to play with the Cuban National Symphony and record an original piece for piano and orchestra titled “Awakening.” Jacob, a professor emeritus of music at Saint Mary’s, was selected from 300 submissions to travel to Cuba for a week in April.Jacob said his interest in music stems from his parents, both of whom played the piano. He began piano lessons at five years old and went on to complete a bachelor’s degree in piano performance from the University of Cincinnati, a master’s degree from the Julliard School and a doctorate degree from Johns Hopkins University.Jacob said a U.S.-based recording company, PARMA Recordings, negotiated with the Cuban government to allow American composers and musicians to come to Cuba.“[PARMA] issued a call for scores,” he said. “I thought, ‘There’s no chance,’ but I had the score, and I was going to just send it out to orchestras to see if anyone would be interested.”Americans have not been able to travel to Cuba freely since the early 1960s, so the call for scores posed an unique opportunity for American composers, Jacob said.“At a very preliminary stage, I thought, ‘If this is selected, I’ll be piano soloist and composer with the Cuban National Symphony, and that will mean that I’m the first North American pianist in 50 years to perform and record my music with the Cuban National Symphony,’” he said.Jacob said the process for choosing the pieces began with PARMA, which sent selected pieces to Cuba for the musicians to choose from.“Nobody was more surprised,” Jacob said. “Nobody was more surprised than I was when I got the word. It was an email followed immediately by a phone call. My very first thought — and I didn’t say this to anyone — was, ‘This must be some sort of scam.’”But it was not a scam, and on April 16, Jacob flew to Cuba. He said he had played a festival for contemporary music in Cuba 29 years ago, but his experience this time around was widely different.Because Fidel Castro opened hotels targeted toward European tourists and relaxed laws about free enterprise, the Cuban economy has improved the standard of living for Cubans and has helped the country become more prosperous, though the Cuban people still largely struggle with poverty, Jacob said.“Things have changed enormously,” he said.Although Cuba and America did not have diplomatic relations for decades, Jacob said Cuban people are largely interested in having a relationship with Americans.“They want full access to the U.S.,” he said. “They want to be able to travel here; Cuban businesses desperately want U.S. tourist dollars and in general … there are millions of Cuban immigrants and their families in Miami and Florida and elsewhere in the U.S., so they were just delighted at this possibility of the opening of relations. They hope that it will some day lead to full diplomatic relations where there is freedom for travel and freedom for businesses.”Being in Cuba with music at the center of the trip helped unite the two cultures, Jacob said.“For Cuban musicians, music is really important,” he said. “They were delighted with the opportunity to be exposed to what’s going on. With the embargo, they had no idea what’s going on in the U.S. in terms of contemporary classical music. They were very open to everything.”Jacob, who speaks conversational Spanish, said he was able to talk with the musicians during their time together.“They were very curious about the U.S. and the things being written,” he said. “They were really eager for more exchanges like this.”He was impressed with the musicians’ work ethic and passion, he said.“At the first rehearsal, they had practiced the heck out of the piece,” he said. “They were extremely well prepared.”Jacob said the musicians went through the piece three times, after which he thought they were done, but the musicians insisted on running through it multiple times all day.“They were committed to getting every detail exactly right, every note, every nuance, every phrase,” he said. “That was the highlight.”Tags: Cuba, Cuban National Symphony, Jeffrey Jacoblast_img read more

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Fiery New Year start in Iloilo, Capiz, Boracay; families flee as fire razes 23…

first_imgILOILO City – On the first day of year2020 fire razed a total of 20 houses in this city, Iloilo and Capiz provinces. Regencia said there were no fireincidents in the city since Dec. 24 and he hoped this would be sustained. Families living in all these affected houseseither moved to evacuation centers or sought shelter with relatives andfriends. Fire Officer III Franklin Arubang saidthe blaze started at around 7:30 p.m. in the property of Ruel Santillan who wasoperating a boardinghouse. According to Senior Fire Officer 4Aquilino Sampiono, the fire originated from the house of Melecoton and quicklyspread to nearby houses made of light material. BFP declared a “fire out” at around 10:28 a.m. “Mahiraptayong makapasok sa nasunugan [kasi] hilly at isolated. Maliit ang daan,brownout at halos 500 meters ang layo sa barangay road,” saidArubang, adding the strong winds from the Sibuyan Sea fanned the fire, causingthe flames to spread quickly. With the quick response of the Bureauof Fire Protection (BFP), the fire was extinguished in a little over 30minutes. In Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan firedamaged three houses four hours before 2019 came to a close. December last year BFP-Iloilo recordedfive fire incidents. (With a report fromAkean Forum/PN) Short circuit sparked the fire,according to the Guimbal fire station which estimated the property damage tohave reached P1.5 million. Five houses were gutted before firementotally extinguished the fire by around 4:30 p.m. Some five hours before the Iloilo Cityfire, a house went up in smoke 29 kilometers down south in Guimbal, Iloilo. Quick-responding firefighters of theGuimbal fire station contained the blaze from spreading and declared a fire outat around 6:05 a.m. There were no reported injuries ordeaths in these two New Year fires. In the famous holiday island resort ofBoracay four hours and 30 minutes before the clock struck 12, fire broke inSitio Tulubhan, Barangay Manoc-Manoc and razed three houses. As of this writing, the BFP was stillascertaining the cause of the fire and the damage incurred. “Mayisang bahay doon na walang tao dahil halos lahat nasa trabaho. Karamihan mga workers at boarders ang nakatira sa nasunugan,” Arubang said. In Capiz, fire struck a residentialarea in Barangay Ilaya, Pontevedra town at around 1:35 p.m. Fire gobbled up a two-storey house inBarangay Nanga, Guimbal at around 3:57 a.m. The totally destroyed house were ownedby Baquio Rogador, Totong Depra, Jonathan Gancia, Estrella Melecoton, JohnLibuna, Leonito Libuna, Elmer Macaya, Celso Conde, and Albert Compliza whilethe partially damaged ones were owned by Fred Marbebe, Florence Paglumutan,Andong Gallardo, and Keneth Rhoy Buenafe. The New Year blaze was electrical in nature, preliminary investigation of the Iloilo City Fire Station showed. Here, fire struck 14 houses in Zone 4,Barangay Sambag, Jaro district at around 9 a.m. yesterday. Ten of these houseswere totally gutted. BFP-Iloilo City had been on red alertsince Dec. 27. Two days before the New Yearcelebrations, the BFP in Iloilo City expressed hope there won’t be fireincidents. But just in case fire erupted, ChiefInspector Christopher Regencia, city fire marshal, said BFP-Iloilo City had 50fire officers and 12 fire trucks on standby to respond. These were on top of fire volunteerorganizations in the city, said Regencia. The BFP-Boracay substation, BoracayFire Rescue and Ambulance Volunteers, Boracay Island Water Company, BoracayTubi System Inc., and Kabalikat Civicom 961 Boracay responded to the fireincident. The fire left an estimated propertydamage of P150,000. Arson investigators of the BFP have yetto determine the cause of the blaze.last_img read more

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