Buena Vista Social Club plays last ever show in Havana

Posted: 27-May-16 08:57

Grammy Award-winning Cuban musicians Buena Vista Social Club waved goodbye to fans in Havana's Karl Marx Theater last Sunday, with the group playing 24 songs at an historic final show. Despite the gig being what producer Nick Gold described as the "end of an era", however, iconic singer Omara Portuondo will soon return for a one-off show at London's Barbican Theatre.

Buena Vista Social Club plays last ever show in Havana

Having toured all over the world and player historic concerts at the White House and New York’s Carnegie Hall, the five surviving members of Cuba’s most iconic music collective, Buena Vista Social Club, have finally hung up their instruments after bowing out in style at Havana’s Karl Marx Theater.

The group, which was comprised of singer Omara Portuondo, singer/guitarist Eliades Ochoa, lutenist Barbarito Torres, trumpeter Manuel “El Guajiro” Mirabal and timbale player Amadito Valdes wowed a thoroughly captivated audience with 24 songs as they bid a fond farewell to the Cuban public.

Owner of the British World Circuit record label which produced Buena Vista Social Club, Nick Gold, also came to Havana to enjoy the celebration along with Cuban musician Juan D’Marcos Gonzalez and American guitarist Ry Cooder, who both helped turn the band into a truly global phenomenon.

End of an Era

Speaking in an exclusive interview with NBC news, Gold told a reporter that it was “possibly the end of an era”, but added that “at the same time it is the beginning of different things for these artists”. That is certainly the case for Portuondo, who will be resuming mic duties in just over six weeks as she travels to London’s Barbican Theatre to perform with Spanish flamenco singer Diego el Cigala in celebration of her 85th birthday. Having shared a stage for the first time last year, the pair will be revisiting some highlights from Portuondo’s career, with El Cigala providing a unique take on several classics.

What the immediate future holds for the rest of these influential musicians currently remains to be seen, but having won a Grammy award and a Billboard Latin American Music Award in 1998, there can be no denying that the group left an indelible mark on aspiring musicians in Cuba and beyond.

Indeed, the group were so inspirational that they starred in a critically-acclaimed Win Wenders documentary, entitled Buena Vista Social Club. Having been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2000, the film helped elevate the group to a new level of stardom.


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