Student and emerging musicians in Cuba have the opportunity to support their families and improve their standard of living by performing for the tourism sector. One of the biggest barriers they face is access to instruments and supplies.

Since 2017, the Cuban American Youth Orchestra has shepherded the donations of over $25,000 worth of instruments, strings, reeds, cases, and repair tools into the hands of talented students and young professionals in Cuba.

Here are some of their stories.

José Luis Rubio Reyes, violinist

“Thanks to CAYO for providing me a very enriched personal and professional experience and also for the necessary tools that are now an inseparable part of my body.”

-José Luis Rubio Reyes, violinist, Havana

José was one of CAYO’s first musician participants and spent a week in Minneapolis/St. Paul in our first CAYO Academy in fall 2017. A visit to a St. Paul Chamber Orchestra rehearsal led to an extraordinary donation a year later from SPCO vi0linist Nina Ts0-Ning Fan. Now the owner of a beautiful professional-level violin, José recently won third prize in an international competition in Bogotá, Colombia, and appeared as a soloist with Cuba’s National Symphony Orchestra.

Jose Havana

Adriana Déborah Rodríguez Laza

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Adriana is a violist in her third year of music studies at Havana’s Instituto Superior de Arte. In 2017, she was invited to participate in CAYO’s Fall Academy – and she did not have her own instrument to bring to Minnesota. A few days after her arrival, a surprise came in the mail from a generous anonymous donor who was contacted by a musician in the Minnesota Orchestra. Adriana went back to Havana with her own viola and continues to excel in her studies.

Photo © Courtney Perry/Minnesota Orchestra 2017
Adriana Viola

Melanie, violinist

Melanie is a young student of CAYO Fall Academy violinist Danielle Gonzalez Sanchez and the recipient of a donation by CAYO friend Kathleen Miller. Now she is able to continue her lessons with her own instrument for the first time.