7:30 PM – 8:45 PM

Teatro Esperanza
4261 N. 5th Street, Philadelphia 19140 (Directions & Parking)

Free / sliding scale virtual admission for all.

$10 full price / Free admission for students and seniors. Find Esperanza’s current COVID safety policies HERE.

Orchestra 2001 continues its annual ¡CONEXIONES! series at Esperanza Arts Center this season featuring music by Cuban and Cuban-American composers.
Generously funded by the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation.


Ernesto Abelardo Valdés – Almendra

Tania León – Toque 

Ileana Pérez Velázquez – Zunzun 

Leo Brouwer – La Niña Bonita

Paquito D'Rivera – Preludio y Merengue

Mark Loria, Conductor

Sean Bailey – flute, clarinet, e-flat piccolo clarinet
Mark Allen – alto saxophone
Carlos Rubio – violin
Jesús Morales – cello
Douglas Mapp – bass
Nina Siniakova – piano
Anthony DiBartolo – percussion
Malavika Godbole – percussion

Orchestra 2001 traveled to Havana, Cuba in 2012 to perform music by George Crumb and other Philadelphia composers as that year’s only US ensemble at the Festival de Música Contemporánea de La Habana.

Join Orchestra 2001 as we feature music by five 20th- and 21st-century Cuban and Cuban-American composers spanning six decades. The program opens with Almendra (Almond) by Cuban danzonero, bassist, and bandleader Abelardo Valdés, who popularized the Cuban danzón style.

Cuban-American composer Tania León’s Toque is inspired by Almendra. She explains that “the word ‘toque’ in Spanish means ‘touch’ and is used not just for physical touch, but also to signify playing an instrument.”

Ileana Pérez Velázquez’ Zunzún (Cuban hummingbird), features a virtuoso e-flat piccolo clarinet in the lead role. Leo Brouwer’s enchanting La Niña Bonita for piano trio is followed by Preludio y Merengue, one of several pieces composed by Cuban-American Latin jazz sensation Paquito D’Rivera for his ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma. Merengue won a Grammy for best contemporary classical composition.


Ernesto Abelardo Valdés de la Cantera (Abelardo Valdés) was a double bass player, and one of the most important danzoneros in Cuban musical history as conductor of the Orquesta Almendra. He was born on November 7, 1911, in Havana. He died 47 years later as the musician who made the danzón known in the world, on December 9, 1958. 

Tania León (b. Havana, Cuba) is highly regarded as a composer, conductor, educator and advisor to arts organizations. Her orchestral work Stride, commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, was awarded the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Music. In July 2022, she was named a recipient of the 45th Annual Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime artistic achievements.


Cuban-born composer Ileana Pérez Velázquez lives in upstate NY and is a Professor of Music Composition at Williams College, MA. The New York Times has praised the “imaginative strength and musical consistency” and the “otherworldly quality” of her compositions. Her music has been heard in concerts and international festivals in Cuba, the United States, and throughout South and Central America, Europe, China, and the Middle East.


Composer, guitarist and conductor, Juan Leovigildo Brouwer Mezquida (Leo Brouwer) was born in Havana, Cuba in 1939. He studied with Isaac Nicola, Pujol's pupil and specializing in composition, completed his studies at the Juilliard School of Music and at Hartt College of Music. In 1987 Brouwer was selected, along with Isaac Stern and Alan Danielou, to be honourable member of UNESCO in recognition for his music career - an honour that he shares with Menuhin, Shankar, Karajan, Sutherland and other musical luminaries.


Born in Havana, Cuba, Paquito D’Rivera performed at age 10 with the National Theater Orchestra, studied at Havana Conservatory of Music, and at 17, became a featured soloist with the Cuban National Symphony. He was a founding member of the Orquesta Cubana de Musica Moderna, and co-director of the innovative musical ensemble Irakere. He was a founding member of the United Nation Orchestra, organized by Dizzy Gillespie. D’Rivera received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Carnegie Hall for his contributions to Latin music, and has been soloist with the London Symphony, Warsaw Philharmonic, National Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, and Puerto Rico Symphony. Mr. D’Rivera’s three chamber compositions recorded live in concert from Carnegie Hall with distinguished cellist Yo-Yo Ma (including “Merengue”) were released by Sony Records and garnered his 7th GRAMMY as Best Instrumental Composition. He was recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the NEA Jazz Masters Award, and the National Medal of the Arts, as well as the Living Jazz Legend Award from the Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. The National Endowment for the Arts website affirms “he has become the consummate multinational ambassador, creating and promoting a cross-culture of music that moves effortlessly among jazz, Latin, and Mozart.” 


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