CAMAGÜEY.- Ignacio “Nachito” Herrera premiered last night the electroacustic piano in the Avellaneda Theater, in this city where he indulge himself by “sweating” his guayabera in his native Cuba, as the invited solo player by the Minnesota Youth Symphonies Orchestra, states where he lives since 2002.

After performing the Piano Concerto in F, by George Gershwin, he addressed the audience to dedicate the next piece to the person who had donated the instrument: “a supporter of the real Cuban music that is among us: Don Adalberto Álvarez. Thank you for defending the son”, emphasized.

Then he waved at the Caballero del Son, who was admiring him from the second floor, and embraced the theater with the notes of Cuba, qué linda es Cuba, and the audience sang along and clapped, for pushing the buttons of identity through a composition, turned into an anthem of the Cuban culture, originally written by Eduardo Saborit.

“The piano is good. In the United States, the Yamaha Company has also revealed a similar model. Many classical pianists use it, because the situation with electroacustic pianos gets hard. I invite others to use it. The piano is divine, it sounds good, has a good mechanism, it bears the presentation of strong plays. Thank you for the honor of being the first solo player to use it”, commented to

After the concert was ended, which lasted around two hours, Nachito Herrera did not repressed his wishes of partying to the style of Camagüey, since the city is in San Juan, a long tradition popular festivity: “I cannot wait to take off my serious suit of classical piano player…”, he joked.

Before Camagüey, you played in Havana, is there any differences between the audiences?

— No. I felt the same warmth from the people, the same feeling of Cuban culture. My Cuban people have never let me down and the orchestra made itself at home. It is a dream to me to watch this young orchestra playing Cuban works like the first in the repertoire: La Tumba de Alejandro García Caturla de Islas y Montañas by Shelley Hanson.

“I appreciate that, even though you wanted to go to La Trocha —one of the festivities area—, to have a beer, you decided to support not only Nachito, the Cuban pianist, but a young orchestra that lives so far, that was wondering about Cuba. They will return to their homes with a completely different view of what they had been told. The most important thing in the tour is to show them the reality lived in Cuba, the warmth and hospitality of the Cubans. The concert has made me feel much more proud of being Cuban”.

In Cuba, there are concerns regarding the every time fewer public for the concert music, does this happens over there?

—It has been happening for a few years not only in Cuba. The here known as cultured music, and there called classical music, is going through a hard time because of the industrialization of the music for an audience that does not understand why we need to have 80, 90 or 100 musicians on a stage. I am not that old, but in my times there were no cell phones. We must awaken in the new generations the motivation for listening this kind of music, maybe making respectful versions that introduce to them classical melodies. The classical music is the queen and mother to all kinds of music. We cannot do absolutely anything in the world without it.

From your experience as a graduated from the artistic schools here, in which way is the Minnesota Youth Symphonies Orchestra a meter for the Cubans?

—I defend the idea that there is only one kind of music. It is music as long as you do it with love, with respect for the styles. It represents a lot to me to be a part of this project that comes from a state where Cuban music is not heard. There I decided to tolerate the cold temperatures because my wife is not very fond of the heat, and it was exciting to see 80 young people from Minnesota playing a danzón.

“With this sort of results and the support of the public, you start dreaming and wanting to keep on fighting, because there is no possibility that the music from Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninoff can die, as well as the cha cha chá, the danzon, the mambo, the mozambique will not die. Those are styles that have been created to endure in history throughout the centuries.

“I will always be willing to play a danzón or a piano concert because I consider myself one of the luckiest musicians. I got to absorb the education of the classical Cuban school, and at the same time the Cuban culture. I had the joy of taking classes from the maestro Rubén González, of knowing the secrets of cha cha chá with Joseíto González, with many of the great artists that have placed our music in the highest levels of the world. That I do with God´s blessings, may He grant me good health to keep on doing”.

Was it good to sweat in Camagüey wearing a guayabera?

—I will always play, in any stage in the world, wearing a guayabera because the person who nowadays does not live in Cuba is still Cuban, still gets up at six in the morning like a good guajiro to practice his piano, but I never stop drinking my coffee. If I do not have my Cuban coffee in the morning, I cannot work. By playing wearing a guayabera I respectfully show the world our roots, our culture, the professional level of our music schools. A Cuban musician wearing a guayabera and his two-shade shoes can perform a Rachmaninoff concert as well as a danzón.

“Wearing a guayabera was my wife´s idea when we went on tour with the Cuban National Symphonic Orchestra in the United States, in 2012. It was the first time an orchestra of that kind had visited that country. It was precious to me. From then to the date, I play wearing a guayabera because it is very comfortable, I look better and I love it. That is how you will always find me in the concerts”.

Nachito Herrera is considered among the greatest Cuban pianists, compared to Chucho Valdés and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. In 1990, he graduated from Superior Institute of Art in Havana. He highlights for his work as a pianist, music arranger and musical director. He participated in the project Cubanismo and has been awarded with an EMY and a Grammy. He has performed next to well-known musicians like Chick Corea, Michael Tainer, Tata Güines, Carlos de Puerto, Tito Puentes, Oscar de León, Yellowjackets and Celia Cruz, among others. He has participated in over 40 albums and recordings.

Translated by Elianna Díaz Mendieta 3rd year English Language Student