Cuban pianist to return to the Isabel

Aldo López-Gavilán’s performance is part of the Cuban exchange program 

Cuban pianist López-Gavilán will be returning to perform at the Isabel on March 23.
Image supplied by: Karen Dubinsky
Cuban pianist López-Gavilán will be returning to perform at the Isabel on March 23.

After a captivating opening performance two Octobers ago, Havana-based pianist Aldo López-Gavilán is returning to the Isabel Bader Performing Arts Centre for a solo piano performance. 

Classically trained Cuban pianist López-Gavilán will be performing a jazz set on March 23 as part of Queen’s ongoing exchange with the University of Havana. 

López-Gavilán — acclaimed as part of an up-and-coming generation of Cuban piano masters and praised by the likes of Chucho Valdez, a legendary Grammy-winning jazz pianist — became acquainted with Karen Dubinsky, a Global Development Studies professor at Queen’s, and the Queen’s exchange program a few years ago. He later came to Kingston accompanied by a group of musicians and gave a mesmerizing performance at the Isabel in October 2014.

“We fell in love with him and he fell in love with the Isabel,” Dubinsky said. “That piano in the Isabel is such a beautiful, 

beautiful thing.”

López-Gavilán has toured around the world and has been recognized by Cuba’s “grand old piano men,” according 

to Dubinsky, who is also co-instructor for the program.

“He’s basically the next big star, so it’s a big deal for us to get him,” she said. 

“He’s so versatile and he can move between genres seamlessly. The combination of his versatility as well as the Isabel theatre, which is acoustically magnificent will make for a really stunning combo — he doesn’t even need a mic.”

All proceeds from the concert will go to the scholarship program that facilitates the Queen’s-Cuba exchange, including the costs required to send students to Cuba and bring a Cuban student to the Kingston campus.

The academic exchange agreement, now in its ninth year, allows Queen’s students to visit Cuba and guests from Havana and Havana University to visit the Queen’s campus.

As part of the agreement, Queen’s offers DEVS 305: Cuban Culture and Society. The course begins on the Kingston campus but gives students the opportunity to visit Havana University in Cuba, where they attend further classes taught by local professors. 

“In May, we take those students who’ve been studying Cuban issues [at Queen’s] to the University of Havana, where the course continues there,” Dubinsky said.

The agreement also allows someone from Cuba to come to Queen’s for a period of time — typically a professor or member of the art or music scene. 

This year, Queen’s invited López-Gavilán. His performance will be a fundraising and publicity vehicle for DEVS 305. 

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