Hot in Cuba - Havana's 500th-anniversary celebrations, Pablo Milanes concert, Wifredo Lam exhbition, Ballet Nacional and Ballet de Camaguey

As the school season begins and everyone goes back to the old routine, Cuba unveils an exciting calendar of events this September that will grow larger as the month unfolds. Havana will be the main focus of activities as it celebrates its 500th anniversary with a big opening concert by Cuban troubadour legend Pablo Milanes. Then there are ballet productions taking to the stage and special art exhibitions, with more to be announced soon.

Hot in Cuba - Havana's 500th-anniversary celebrations, Pablo Milanes concert, Wifredo Lam exhbition, Ballet Nacional and Ballet de Camaguey

At first glance, it might seem there’s not a lot going on in Havana as of lately. The holiday mood has meant there have been few non-family focused events in the island over the past month, but already the arrival of September has started to change that and the atmosphere is getting livelier again. From a ground-shaking concert that will wake up the city to the sound of a famous, legendary voice to dance and theatre productions by prestigious local companies, September starts with a packed first week.

As the month unfolds we’ll keep adding events to this Cuban calendar that will grow longer every week. Keep checking back to find out what’s in store every week of September 2018

Pablo Milanes gives one-off concert at Havana’s Karl Marx (7 September)

Paying special a tribute to Havana on the 500th anniversary of its foundation, Pablo Milanes will delight a keen audience from the city that welcomed him at a very young age and saw him develop into the world-famous artist he is today. It was in the 70s that he first achieved national fame with his characteristic vocal timbre and romantic lyrics that captivated fans of all ages, with a popularity that soon expanded beyond national limits to become a Latin American icon, that went on to enjoy success later in Europe. His sometimes folksy, often jazzy sounds have delighted audiences the world over.

This very special one-off concert is no small matter. For one thing, Pablo Milanes is now 75-years-old (though he certainly doesn’t look it much) and hasn’t given any public performances in a very long time. The occasion calls for it and is special because it is, as he himself described during an interview, his own way to wish Havana and habaneros a happy birthday and give back to the city that gave him so much, but also to introduce the public to a few new songs and surprises. The participation of guest artists singing alongside him has been confirmed although Milanes wants their names to remain a secret. It’s on at the Karl Marx theatre in the Playa municipality with the show starting at 8:30 p.m. and tickets will run out fast so get in line. There couldn’t be a better start to the month!

Ballet Nacional de Cuba presents The Magic Flute and Tierra y Luna (6 to 8 September)

Closing off their summer programme in style, Cuba’s national ballet company will be putting on two shows in the first week of September as their culminating acts of the season. The productions “Tierra y Luna” (Earth and Moon) and The Magic Flute were handpicked by Patrimonio Cultural de la Nacion and will give viewers two very different ballet experiences to enjoy.

First Up it’s Tierra y Luna, inspired on the poetic works of Federico Garcia Lorca, with choreography by Maria Rovira and original music by Equis Alfonso. On the same evening, this act will be followed by The Magic Flute, a comedy ballet piece with original music by Mozart and choreography by Alicia Alonso. Scheduled over three consecutive days (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) and stage at the Gran Teatro de La Habana, all shows start at 8:30 p.m. and tickets can be bought from the theatre’s ticket office. 

Visual Arts Exhibition “Matrices del Tiempo” in Cienfuegos (4 to 30 September)

Cienfuegos’ Federico Fernandez Cavada art gallery, housed inside the Taller de Grabado de la Sociedad Grafica de Cienfuegos is hosting a very special exhibition this month titled “Matrices del Tiempo” (Time Matrices), where artists create the right conditions to debate about multi-cultural diversity in the universe of visual arts. As part of the exhibition, there will also be workshops and conferences at the Museo Provincial.

The exhibition unites the work of contemporary Cuban artists like K-Cho, but most remarkably, this art space also features an important collection of 18 engraved pieces by Wifredo Lam, a Cuban painter who was a pioneer of its time and whose masterpieces reached far beyond the confines of the island. He’s considered the most universal and internationally famous of Cuban artists and for a very good reason as he was the first to explore his mixed heritage roots and elevate Afro-Cuban art from a place of total obscurity. If you’re in Cienfuegos this September, stopping here to check out this gallery is definitely worth it.

Ballet de Camaguey celebrates 50th anniversary with performances in Havana (21, 22 and 23 September)

After adapting their pieces to Sancti Spiritus’ smaller format theatre, the Ballet de Camaguey will stop in Havana later this month to perform its summer programme at the Gran Teatro de La Habana “Alicia Alonso” in the Garcia Lorca hall. The production includes pieces Aguas Primaverales, Los Amantes y la Muerte (an excerpt from Romeo and Juliet) and Aleatorio, the company’s newest piece which debuted last July by choreographer Tania Vergara.

Susana Corona

Susana Corona

The islands' go-between

Having lived most of my life between Cuba and the UK and being half-raised in both island nations, I...

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