Cuban National Choir: Half a Century on Stage

Celebrating 50 years of permanence on the stage is a real achievement. The Cuban National Choir has so done with a work aimed at promoting the most valuable features of any kind of music: either Cuban choral, universal, popular, classical, renaissance or contemporary music.

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2010-12-06

Celebrating 50 years of permanence on the stage is a real achievement. The Cuban National Choir has so done with a work aimed at promoting the most valuable features of any kind of music: either Cuban choral, universal, popular, classical, renaissance or contemporary music.
For this reason, choral music in Cuba is in an elated mood these days. The members of the group, founded by Serafín Pro in 1960 and conducted by maestro Digna Guerra for 35 years now, decided to celebrate the 50th anniversary with a tour of the Cuban stages, so as to show the authenticity that has characterized the group.
Throughout its career, full of special moments, the said choir has recorded world premières and first auditions in Cuba, in almost all the musical genres.
The group started to stand out since its creation, in 1959, when the Cuban Revolution triumphed, as it immediately started to show its versatility. Its members have worked with the Cuban National Ballet and the National Opera. In the 1960, they participated in the presentation of the works La Casita Criolla (The small Creole house) and La Isla de las Cotorras (The parrots’ island), of the Cuban vernacular theater.
Digna Guerra, the Maestro, and Entrevoces
But it was as of 1975 that the Choir started its most solid path, with the leadership of Digna Guerra, a graduate of Choral Conduction at the Hans Eisler Higher School of Music, in Germany. She has also conducted the Choirs of the Cuban Radio and Television Institute and the Cuban National Opera, respectively.
The Cuban National Choir is, indeed, a group that has made almost everything, if something’s still to be made. It has offered tens of recitals in the radio and the television and made recordings for the sound tracks of over 30 films. Among these, some of the most emblematic films of the Cuban cinema are included: La Ultima Cena (The Last Supper), with Tomás Gutiérrez Alea as director and Leo Brower as musical director, and El Siglo de las Luces (Age of Enlightenment), with Humberto Solás as director and José María Vitier as musical director. The Choir has also recorded three CDs.
The National Choir, a combination of quality and prestige, is admired by experts such as Jamaican Jeffrey Fairweather, Swedish Robert Sund and Mexican Jorge Medina, who have come to Havana to take part in debates on the state of choral music around the world.
This group has left its imprint on different international stages, such as Spain, France, Italy, The Vatican, Germany, Luxemburg, The Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Venezuela, Jamaica, Barbados, Ecuador and The United States.
In 1981, Digna Guerra, who is also the chairwoman of the Cuban Choirs Association and a member of the Caribbean Choir Federation Board, showed its artistic aspirations and founded the chamber choir Entrevoces. This group has sung pieces of all times and styles, from the Spanish, the English and the Italian renaissance polyphony to the contemporary music, and the Cuban music in general. Both Choirs have complemented each other for over 30 years.
In 1997, Entrevoces won the first award and the golden trophy in the Profane Music category; the second award and the silver trophy in the Sacred Music category, and the Award of the Audience, all this during the 29th Contest Masas Corales de Tolosa, in Spain.
Dedication, commitment and rigor have been the three main elements for the success and permanence on the stage of either of the choirs, which have always been under the excellent charge of Digna Guerra, who molds her artists the same way an artisan molds its clay.

Translated by Yanely Interian

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