American Public Media/Minnesota Public Radio to Broadcast Landmark Minnesota Orchestra Concerts Live From Cuba

MPR’s national distribution arm, American Public Media, to distribute concerts nationwide
Concerts are first live music broadcasts from the country since relations normalized last year

St. Paul, Minn., May 5, 2015—Classical Minnesota Public Radio will broadcast two live, historic performances by Music Director Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra from the Teatro Nacional in Havana, Cuba, May 15 and 16.

The Minnesota Orchestra will play as part of the opening weekend of the 19th annual International Cubadisco Festival, becoming the first U.S. orchestra to perform in Cuba since President Obama took steps to normalize relations between the countries in December. The broadcast is possible through a technical collaboration with partners both in Cuba and locally in Minnesota.

On Friday, May 15, Music Director Osmo Vänskä will lead the Minnesota Orchestra in a concert of Beethoven masterworks that will prominently feature Cuban artists. In addition to Beethoven’s Egmont Overture and Eroica Symphony, they’ll be joined by the Cuban National Choir, Coro Vocal Leo and pianist Frank Fernandez for Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy.

The Saturday, May 16 concert includes Mediterranean melodies that comprise Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story as well as Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Suite.
Audiences can tune in to Classical MPR statewide or stream via at 7 p.m. CDT on May 15 and May 16 to hear the live broadcasts. Each broadcast will open with 30 minutes of pre-concert interviews, music, and stories, followed by the concerts at 7:30 p.m. Classical MPR can be heard in the Twin Cities on KSJN 99.5 FM. A complete list of Classical MPR stations can be accessed at Listeners can also follow along at for updates and behind-the-scenes coverage. In addition to the concert broadcasts, MPR News arts reporter Euan Kerr will send reports and multimedia producer Nate Ryan will provide photos of the historic visit, which will be posted to Classical MPR’s website, along with blog posts by freelance musician Rena Kraut, who will be traveling and performing with the orchestra.

The live broadcasts also will be distributed nationwide via MPR’s national distribution arm American Public Media (APM). Listeners should check their local public radio station listings. People throughout Cuba will have the opportunity to hear the broadcasts on Radio Taino, an FM station based in Havana that broadcasts across the island nation.

“It’s our goal to be the ears for Minnesota audiences, all of whom are justifiably proud that ‘their orchestra,’ the Minnesota Orchestra, was selected among many to be the first American orchestra to perform in Cuba in many years,” said Managing Director of Classical Programming Brian Newhouse, who will serve as host for both broadcasts. “The Minnesota Orchestra is making history, and our broadcast team will do likewise, sending what we believe to be the first live music concert broadcast from Cuba to the U.S. We’re honored and thrilled to do so.”

The Minnesota Orchestra historic Cuba broadcasts will also be offered for delayed rebroadcast regionally on Classical MPR; nationally on the various programs and services offered by APM, including SymphonyCast®, Performance Today®, and Classical 24—the APM-produced 24-hour service heard on nearly 250 stations across the U.S.; and globally via the 100 plus members of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the world’s leading content-sharing organization for public-service media organizations.

American Public Media™  (APM)is one of the largest producers and distributors of public radio programming in the world, with a portfolio reaching nearly 19 million listeners on nearly 1,000 radio stations nationwide each week. Programs include A Prairie Home Companion®, BBC World Service, Marketplace®, Performance Today®, The Splendid Table®, On Being™, The Dinner Party Download®, Wits™, American RadioWorks® and many others. American Public Media’s 220,000 participant-strong Public Insight Network promotes deep connections between journalists across the country and the communities they serve. American Public Media is the parent organization for Minnesota Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio and Classical South Florida. A complete list of stations, programs and additional services can be found at

Minnesota Public Radio® (MPR) operates a 45-station radio network serving nearly all of Minnesota and parts of surrounding states. Reaching 900,000 listeners each week, MPR and its three regional services—MPR News, Classical MPR and The Current—produce programming for radio, online and face-to-face audiences. Programs produced by MPR’s parent company, American Public Media™, reach 19 million listeners on nearly 1,000 radio stations nationwide each week. A complete list of stations, programs and additional services can be found at MPR meets all 27 of the Charities Review Council (CRC) Accountability Standards. Source: Data are copyright Nielsen Audio. Data are estimates only.

The Minnesota Orchestra has long ranked among the United States’ top symphonic ensembles, with a history of acclaimed performances at home and around the world. Founded in 1903 as the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, the ensemble began touring in 1907 and soon became known as “the orchestra on wheels” for its cross-country tours. It has been heard nationally and internationally in award-winning broadcasts produced by Minnesota Public Radio, and it has received acclaim for its vast collection of recordings, dating back to the 1920s, including a 2014 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance for a recording of Sibelius’ First and Fourth Symphonies. The ensemble’s ten music directors have included Eugene Ormandy, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Antal Dorati, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Neville Marriner and, currently, Osmo Vänskä, who presides over a season typically encompassing 175 concerts that are heard live by 350,000 individuals. The Minnesota Orchestra makes its home at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis.