Friday, 5 June 2015

Cuba: Camerata Romeu ~ Havana's fabulous all women string ensemble

These women are amazing!  And they've just added another reason to my list of 'whys'.  I'm looking at this photo of them receiving their applause after a wonderful concert and asking myself, 'did such a small group of musicians really create such an incredible sound?'  They can grow music to an acoustic and emotional crescendo vast enough to make the building and your elated heart burst and then, at a baton stroke, drop it to a whisper, like a secret for your ears only.      

They are called the Camerata Romeu and they specialise in playing Cuban classical music.  It's as vibrant as Havana: pulsing, alive and as hot as the Caribbean but classy with it. If that weren't enough, in one of their pieces these girls turn their strings into percussion instruments and, to an intoxicating Cuban beat, the cellists dance.

The staggering part is that they play everything from memory. Take a look.  There are no music stands and not a sheet of music in sight!  And they do this not only for their Cuban programme but also for the international repertoire of well known composers they play.

Thanks to a little piece of serendipity, we were lucky enough to be invited to 'gatecrash' a private concert they were giving to an American tour party.  If you are visiting Cuba as part of a cultural tour, I would definitely recommend requesting it be included.  The group's website: and Facebook page are rather out of date (Internet is still so difficult in Cuba and not the part of daily life we take for granted), but there are contact details there.

Concerts take place at the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi (Basilica Menor de San Francisco de Asis), pictured below.  It is on Plaza de San Francisco, an attractive square which is on the tourist trail and easy to find.  The church is the group's 'home base', where they rehearse as well as perform, so it would be a good place to enquire about up and coming concerts when you are in Havana.

The tour group we 'gatecrashed' were retired professional musicians and they raved about the performance.

I hope you get the chance to enjoy this treat for yourself and, as things change in Cuba, that these fabulous musicians get to enjoy the international recognition they deserve.  

Kelly x

If you're interested you can hear some live recordings here.

You'll need to sign up for Dropbox but it's free and reputable.

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