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Florida International University students perform in historic concert in Havana

Argentine composer, FIU students meet again -- this time in Havana

HAVANA – Last year Argentine composer Martín Palmeri brought his "Misatango" to Miami-Dade in a performance with the Florida International University's strings orchestra and concert choir.

Palmeri, who was born in Buenos Aires, first performed the "Misatango" with the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba. To mark the 20th anniversary of that performance, Palmeri invited FIU students to participate in the historic concerts in Havana. 

Kathryn Longo, the coordinator of choral studies at FlU’s School of Music, said Palmieri composed a "beautiful combination" of tango, a style of music that originated among European immigrant populations of Argentina and Uruguay, with "the sacred, classical tradition of writing a Mass for orchestra." 

While Palmieri returned to perform in a city that he is familiar with, the recent trip was the first for the FIU choir and it was particularly moving for a few students who are of Cuban heritage. 

FIU students Roberto Lopez-Trigo and Mary Ellen Espinosa are among the Cuban-American students who have only heard stories about the island from their parents and grandparents. Lopez-Trigo said Cuba was like a "fairytale land" when he was a kid and the trip had changed that. 

"I was already overcome with emotion just during the rehearsals," Espinosa said. "Just to come in a room, rehearse and sing."

The trip is one of many FIU students and professors have made after President Barack Obama's administration encouraged the educational exchanges between the U.S. and the Communist island.

"To sing with the Cuban choir and to perform with the Cuban orchestra such a moving piece of music, it has been truly life-changing for me and for the students," Longo said. 

Local 10 News Andrea Torres contributed to this story. 


About the Author:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.