Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State

Event Slides Per Node 1415

  • The orchestra musicians sit and stand at their stations poised and prepared to play their instruments while they look to the conductor, standing in the center.
  • Music director Enrique Pérez Mesa gestures to his orchestra with his raised hand and baton.
  • Piano soloist Yekwon Sunwoo smiles at the camera wearing a tuxedo.

National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba
Enrique Pérez Mesa, music director
Yekwon Sunwoo, pianist

7:30 pm Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba, which has been pivotal in introducing music of its homeland to international audiences, will make its Penn State premiere with a program including Manuel De Falla’s The Three-Cornered Hat, Guido López’s Guaguanco, and Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9.

Yekwon Sunwoo, gold-medal winner of the 2017 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, will perform Sergei Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43, as featured soloist with the orchestra. Sunwoo, the first South Korean to win the prestigious competition, is a graduate of Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music.

“The National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba can play symphonies by Beethoven and Mendelssohn, and play them well,” writes a reviewer for the Tampa Bay Times. “But what is special is when the musicians make like a big dance band from the Tropicana, the legendary nightclub in Havana, and play classical music with an Afro-Cuban beat.”

Founded in 1960, the orchestra covers an immense symphonic and chamber repertoire ranging from Baroque to contemporary music. The ensemble has toured to the United States, Russia, Poland, Spain, Mexico, Argentina, and other countries.

Music Director Enrique Pérez Mesa, a native of Cuba and a graduate of its National School of Arts, has led performances in leading concert halls on three continents. The Grammy Award nominee has also recorded music for Cuban and Spanish films.

Mr. Sunwoo appears by arrangement with the Cliburn.


Adult $59
University Park Student $15
18 and Younger $49

Elinor C. Lewis and Dotty Rigby

media sponsor

Secondary Events on Each Event

Classical Coffeehouse
featuring A Cuban Music Experience

8:00 pm Monday, March 19, 2018

Hintz Family Alumni Center’s Robb Hall

Free for Penn State students; $5 suggested for each community member

Presented by the Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State and the Penn State Alumni Association in partnership with the Blue & White Society and the PSU Music Service Club.

Faculty and students of the Penn State School of Music who have visited Cuba will share their experiences, play music, and provide reflections on the artistic culture of the country.

Penn State Professor of Trombone Mark Lusk will lead the program along with his colleague, Dr. Mike Davison, professor of trumpet and director of jazz studies at the University of Richmond. Davison produced the documentary Cuba, Rhythm in Motion. The musicians’ travels give them great knowledge and insight into the cultural and musical life of Cuba.

Seating is limited. Standing room is available when seating is filled. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.

Classical Coffeehouse is free for University Park students. A $5 donation is suggested for each community member. Donations help to sustain the coffeehouse series.

In addition to complimentary coffee and desserts provided by Paul’s Provisions, the coffeehouse series welcomes a new partnership with the Penn State Coffee Club. The club’s mission is “to promote and explore the connoisseur-ship, tradition and science behind brewing and enjoying coffee.” Club members will offer tastings of their brews at coffeehouse events.

Artistic Viewpoints

6:30 pm Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Eisenhower Auditorium

Artistic Viewpoints, an informal moderated discussion featuring a visiting artist or artists, is offered one hour before the performance and is free for ticket holders. Artistic Viewpoints regularly fills to capacity, so seating is available on a first-arrival basis.