2019 Tour


May 20-27, 2019

“Despite diplomatic tensions between the two countries, a Cuban-American youth orchestra of 75 members joined to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the founding of Havana and to forge friendship through music”

Associated Press, May 2019

“It’s a powerful message at a time of increasing tension between
Washington and Havana.”

—Agence France-Presse, May 2019

“I had no idea how much my life would be changed. I met so many amazing musicians, Cuban and American! I learned about Cuban culture and music! This was definitely an amazing place to go for my first time out of the country.”

Double bassist Dezmond Moss Rogers
of Miami University’s Frost School of Music

“A beautiful connection has been forged between the U.S. musicians who traveled to Cuba and our Cuban counterparts. The friendships I made here will only continue to grow.”

— Clarinetist Jordyn Krause of Northwestern University

“We delivered the soul and put every bit of our hearts into making music. It was a week of sharing two cultures that became one through art.”

—Double bassist Isabel Barciela of Havana

The “Juntos en Armonía/Together in Harmony” tour, which not only marked the orchestra’s debut, but also made history as the first large-scale artistic collaboration between the United States and Cuba. “It’s difficult to distinguish the different nationalities of the violinists, clarinetists and cellists as they play in perfect unison,” observed Agence France-Presse, concluding: “It’s a powerful message at a time of increasing tension between Washington and Havana.”

Comprising 25 American and 45 Cuban student and pre-professional musicians, the newly formed ensemble made its first appearances in Cuba under the batons of Daiana Garcia, César Eduardo Ramos, and CAYO Music Director James Ross, with performances outside the famed Sauto Theater in Matanzas and on the National Theater’s main stage during official events to celebrate Havana’s 500th Anniversary. Alongside classics by Dvoˆrák and Copland, the tour program showcased the world premieres of new works by two of the island republic’s composers: up-and-coming young CAYO member Jorge Amado Molina and venerable UNESCO Medal-winner Guido López-Gavilán, whose Mojito con saoco was commissioned for the occasion by the Paulus Fund in collaboration with the American Composers Forum. Key members of CAYO’s leadership, faculty, and young musicians also took part in a press conference in Havana. Presented by Classical Movements in association with the Cuban Institute of Music and the National Center for Concert Music, CAYO’s inaugural tour harnessed the power of cultural diplomacy to support Cuban musicians and promote harmony and understanding between the U.S. and its long-estranged neighbor.

CAYO Director of Artistic Operations, Minnesota Orchestra clarinetist Timothy Zavadil, collaborated with professionals from leading conservatories and institutions of both countries, including Cuba’s Chamber Orchestra of Havana and Instituto Superior de Arte and the U.S.’s New World Symphony, Juilliard School, Colburn School, and Eastman School of Music, to select musicians for the inagural orchestra.

Neeta Helms, Founder and President of Classical Movements, reflected on the tour: “It is now our privilege to be able to look back on the tremendous success of this project. The Cuban American Youth Orchestra represented an ambitious dream of its founders and board and Classical Movements remains deeply proud of the role we played bringing this project to life, contributing our decades of experience, extensive network and intimate knowledge of Cuba. Every day, Classical Movements saw the direct and undeniable relationships fostered through the shared love of music-making, which is so central to our vision of what such international projects should be about.”



The Americans/Los Estadosunidenses
We are 24 musicians selected from 12 music schools and conservatories across the USA. We represent our home states of Florida, Wisconsin, Missouri, California, Texas, New York, Minnesota, Kentucky, and more. We are performers and educators, hikers and runners, travelers and mathematicians.

Somos 24 músicos seleccionados de 12 escuelas de música y conservatorios en los Estados Unidos. Representamos a nuestros estados de origen de Florida, Wisconsin, Missouri, California, Texas, Nueva York, Minnesota, Kentucky y más. Somos artistas y educadores, excursionistas y corredores, viajeros y matemáticos.


Los Cubanos/The Cubans
Somos 47 músicos seleccionados del Instituto Superior de Arte de La Habana. Representamos las provincias de Santa Clara, Pinar del Río, La Habana, Matanzas y más. Somos artistas y educadores, exploradores y amantes de las mascotas, bailarines y soñadores.

We are 47 musicians selected from Havana’s Instituto Superior de Arte. We represent our home provinces of Santa Clara, Pinar del Rio, La Habana, Matanzas and more. We are performers and educators, explorers and pet-lovers, dancers and dreamers.


The Music Director/El Director
A conductor, a wanderer, a musician, an educator, a scat-singer and a story-teller. James Ross is our music director.

Un director de orquesta, un vagabundo, un músico, un educador, un scat-cantante y un narrador. James Ross es nuestro maestro.


The Teachers/Los Maestros
We are 11 musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra who are returning to Havana four years after the 2015 Minnesota Orchestra tour. We represent our colleagues back home who believe in the work of cultural diplomacy. We are performers and educators, runners and knitters, hockey players, scuba-divers and parents.

Somos 11 músicos de la Orquesta de Minnesota que regresan a La Habana cuatro años después de la gira 2015 de la Orquesta de Minnesota. Representamos a nuestros colegas en Minnesota que creen en el trabajo de la diplomacia cultural. Somos artistas y educadores, corredores y tejedores, jugadores de hockey, buzos y padres.