How many classical music premieres can promise that audience members will be dancing in the aisles?
Revered Venezuelan composer Ricardo Lorenz celebrates Cuba’s musical heritage with “Rumba Sinfónica,” a new symphonic work written in collaboration with Cuban pianist Jorge Gomez. The world premiere of the piece will be performed by Gomez’s hit timba group, Tiempo Libre, and the Minnesota Orchestra on November 16 and 17.
“Rumba Sinfónica” is a 30-minute sound travelogue exploring the full possibilities of a Cuban band and symphony orchestra performing together. The Cuban rumba will not only infuse this symphonic work, but will also guide its musical content from beginning to end.
Tiempo Libre is the first all-Cuban timba group in the United States. Hailed as ambassadors of Cuban music, the group has enjoyed unprecedented success—two consecutive Grammy nominations and a record deal—through its electrifying performances.
And it’s fitting that they should come full circle back to classical music. When Lorenz and Gomez were growing up in Cuba, it was illegal to listen to American songs on the radio or even perform jazz, pop or the blues. So they studied and performed the classics at Cuba’s premiere conservatories. And now, with “Rumba Sinfónica," they have the opportunity to draw on their classical roots while celebrating traditional Cuban music.
Lorenz has served as composer-in-residence of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Armonia Musicians Residency Program. His orchestral works have been performed by major orchestras in the U.S., Latin America, and Europe. Gomez graduated from Cuba's premier music conservatory, the ENA and has since established himself as an excellent arranger and exciting performer. The pair worked closely together, meeting together in joint sessions in Miami during the initial phase of the creation of the work. In the process, Gomez’s virtuosic piano style and sophisticated arrangement approach inspired Lorenz who incorporated this influence in many orchestral passages of the work.
“Rumba Sinfónica” is being co-commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony, the Ravinia Festival and the Festival of the Arts Boca.