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

Van Cliburn-winning pianist Yekwon Sunwoo to perform as soloist with National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba in March 20 concert at Eisenhower  

The National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba, led by music director Enrique Pérez Mesa, will make its Penn State debut at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 20, in Eisenhower Auditorium. Yekwon Sunwoo, the gold-medal winner of the 2017 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, will also make his State College premiere when he joins the ensemble as the featured soloist.

The program will include Manuel de Falla’s “The Three Cornered Hat,” Suite 1; Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9; and Guido Lopéz-Gavilán’s “Guaguancó.” Sunwoo will perform Sergei Rachmaninov’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini,” Op. 43.

Purchase tickets, which are $59 for an adult, $15 for a University Park student, and $49 for a person 18 and younger. A grant from the University Park Student Fee Board makes Penn State student prices possible.

The Caribbean orchestra was founded in 1959 and serves two functions: to introduce the musical history and culture of Cuba and Latin America to the world and to educate and train young Cuban musicians. Mesa has led the ensemble in performances in at least a dozen countries, and his recordings include compositions for Spanish-language films and the Grammy-nominated classical compilation “Salmo de las Américas.”

“The National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba can play symphonies by Beethoven and Mendelssohn, and play them well,” wrote 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.”

Sunwoo, who beat at least 30 competitors at the 15th Cliburn competition last June, “can do anything he puts his mind to at the keyboard,” wrote a critic for the Chicago Tribune. “The hard brilliance of sound he drew from the Steinway, sometimes at breakneck speed, was astonishing to behold.”

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

Find more information about the musicians and the concert, or about a related “Cuban Musical Experience” Classical Coffeehouse.

Elinor C. Lewis and Dotty Rigby sponsor the performance. WPSU is the media sponsor.