In Cuba with the Harvard Radcliffe Orchestra—a timpanist’s tale | Harvard Magazine

In Cuba with the Harvard Radcliffe Orchestra—a timpanist’s tale | Harvard Magazine.

This is a lovely article by a young timpani player with the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra about a recent trip to Cuba by the Orchestra. They performed concerts with their Cuban counterparts in three cities, Cienfuegos, Santa Clara and Havana.

The culmination of their tour was a performance in Havana of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony – the Ode to Joy. How fitting to conclude with a work whose chorus begins “Alle Menschen werden Brüder” or “All men will be brothers.” (I had the great joy of performing this work with Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony while a student member of the Harvard Glee Club, and then of being in the audience in Tokyo as Maestro Ozawa performed the same work there a few years later.)

In 2000 the People-to-People Ambassador Program invited me to be the tour director for a group of 61 American educators for a week-long study tour in Cuba, under the Clinton Administration’s licensing guidelines. As did the author of this article, I was struck by both the timeless beauty of the architecture and the landscape, and by the warm welcome we received from the Cubans, who knew that we American citizens had no more control over our government’s Cuba policy than they had over Fidel Castro’s whims.

I am very much looking forward to a humanitarian trip to Cuba that I will be leading November 1-9 for a small group of gay men, lesbians and friends. This is not a tour run by Hanns Ebensten Travel and Alyson Adventures, but is operated by an organization that has run humanitarian trips to Cuba for over 15 years. We will be taking medical supplies to a clinic in Havana that serves people with HIV and AIDS. If you would like information about the trip, please send an email to me at

About philsheldon

Owner of Hanns Ebensten Travel and Alyson Adventures.
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