Orquesta del Lyceum de la Habana

© Monika Rittershaus

As part of the Cuban-European Academy, many of the young Cuban musicians already performed at Young Euro Classic in Berlin in 2018; now they return as an independent orchestra in their own name. Only four years ago, the Orquesta del Lyceum de la Habana was founded, uniting students of the conservatory in Cuba’s capital. Their goal is to maintain the country’s musical heritage and also to blaze trails for composers of the future. Even in the founding year of 2016, the CD Mozart in Havana was recorded with pianist Simone Dinnerstein; this album was first presented during a tour of the USA, in which they Cuban youth orchestra performed in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Miami. After the 2018 European concert tour as part of the Academy project initiated by Thomas Hengelbrock, in 2019 the staged production of Mozart’s opera La clemenza di Tito in Havana was another highlight in the orchestra’s short history.

July 27, 2020 20:00

Konzerthaus, Berlin

José Antonio Méndez Padrón

© Fabrizio Sansoni

The Cuban conductor José Antonio Méndez Padrón was educated at the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) in Havana; he then studied at the Mozarteum in Salzburg with Peter Gülke and Jorge Rotter and at the Carnegie Mellon School of Music in Pittsburgh. Since 2009 Méndez Padrón has himself been the director of the ISA’s orchestra; he also founded the Orquesta del Lyceum de la Habana in 2016. In 2012 he was appointed associate chief conductor of the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Cuba; in 2018 he became the chief conductor of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Matanzas. The conductor has also recorded works by Cuban composers from the 18th century to our present day for CD. Since 2015 he has also been the director of the Festival Mozart-Habana.


Sarah Willis

© Gregor Hohenberg

Since 2001 Sarah Willis has been a member of the horn group of the Berlin Philharmonic; before this, she was a member of the Staatskapelle Berlin for ten years. Born in Maryland, USA, the musician spent her childhood in Tokyo, Moscow and London, as her father was a foreign correspondent. In London, she began playing the horn at the age of 14, subsequently studying at the Guildhall School of Music. During the past years, Sarah Willis has performed widely as a soloist and has not only presented the solo album Horn Discoveries, but also recorded the CDs Opera! and Four Corners! together with her colleagues from Berlin. She is highly active in the Berlin Philharmonic’s youth projects, especially its family concerts. As an enthusiastic champion of social media, Willis regularly interviews conductors and soloists for the Berlin Philharmonic’s internet presence and popularizes her instrument on Facebook. In 2011 she presented the final concert of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra live from Sydney, an event viewed by 33 million web users.




Overture to "Die Entführung aus dem Serail" K. 384 (1781-82)


Horn Concerto No. 3 E-flat-major K. 447 (1786)


"Rondo alla Mambo" (based on Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 3, 2020)


Symphony No. 39 in E-flat-major K. 543 (1788)


“Sarahnade Mambo” (2020)


“El Manisero” (arr. Jorge Aragón, 1927/28)     


“Dos Gardenias para tí” (arr. Jorge Aragón, 1945)

7 pm: Pre-Concert Talk with Dieter Rexroth at the Werner-Otto-Saal
Free admission with concert ticket


Why compulsively play Beethoven in a Beethoven year? The Orquesta del Lyceum de La Habana offers a conscious contrast by dedicating itself mainly to the other great composer of the First Viennese School: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In 2018 the young Cuban musicians were already part of an orchestra project which appeared at Young Euro Classic; now they are out to prove that they are just as good on their own! In order to do so, they have chosen one of Mozart’s majestic masterworks, the great Symphony in E-flat-major. They are further supported by the horn player Sarah Willis, of Berlin Philharmonic fame, who will perform one of Mozart’s horn concerti. In addition, there will be plenty of Cuban rhythm and temperament on this festival evening: Mozart’s Third Horn Concerto is transformed into a Rondo alla Mambo – and the crowning finale features Cuban classics and a mambo “Sarahnade”!

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