Jeff Multer will be playing Sibelius in Havana this month.
Multer, concertmaster of the Florida Orchestra, is going to Cuba on Tuesday as part of the orchestra's ongoing cultural exchange with musical institutions on the island. On May 12, he will be featured as the soloist in Sibelius' Violin Concerto in a concert by the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba at the Teatro Nacional de Cuba.
During his time in Cuba, Multer will also give violin master classes Wednesday at the Amadeo Roldan Conservatory and Thursday at the Universidad de las Artes.
Next week is the second time around for the orchestra's plan to have Multer perform in Havana. He was scheduled to go there in February, but the orchestra had to put off the trip because the Office of Foreign Asset Control, part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, was unable to process its application for a license to spend money in Cuba in time. Under the U.S. embargo on trade with Cuba, the OFAC license is necessary for travel to the island.
The orchestra didn't announce next week's trip until it had the travel licenses and Cuban visas in hand. The documents arrived from Washington on Thursday.
Michael Pastreich, CEO of the orchestra, said that next week's trip wouldn't have happened without the help of U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and his staff. "They made a lot of calls on our behalf to get the licenses," Pastreich said.
Multer's visit to Cuba is the latest episode in an exchange that began in September 2011, when a wind quintet from the orchestra gave a concert in Havana. Last May, Enrique Perez Mesa, the Cuban National Symphony's music director, made his U.S. debut conducting the Florida Orchestra. In November, the Cuban orchestra and Perez Mesa toured to the Tampa Bay area to play a chamber music concert at the old Cuban Club in Ybor City and a full orchestra concert at Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg.
Pastreich will accompany Multer on the trip and has plans to meet with Cuban officials about future collaborations. One that has already been discussed is the possibility of the whole orchestra going to the island at some point.
John Fleming can be reached at [email protected].