The University of Florida School of Music in collaboration with the UF Center for Latin American Studies and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church presented the concert Cantantes y Canciones de Cuba. The concert featured Yilam Sartorio and Ramón Centeno, singers from the island of Cuba, along with UF professors from the School of Music. The university faculty consisted of Dr. Anthony Offerle, a bass-baritone, and Dr. Kevin Sharpe on the piano.
Offerle met the Cuban singers when visiting Havana, Cuba, more than a month ago. He believed musically collaborating with them would help build bridges between both cultures, and broaden the international presence of the University of Florida. Sartorio and Centeno are alumnae of the Cuban Ministry of Culture, and have had training in both European and Russian approaches to performing. Centeno has earned many recognitions, one of them being two gold medals at the Canto Coral Olympics in Germany. Sartorio has earned global recognition from the musical community, she was awarded second place in the Florilege Canto Vocal de Tours Competition, held in France.
Many who attended the concert were Spanish speakers and Cuban-Americans from the Gainesville and Ocala region. There were 14 performances that combined classical operatic artists with songs from the island of Cuba. The performers received several standing ovations, which has opened the door to having a Cuban concert in 2017 if funding is made available, Offerle said.
“It would be ideal to continue building this relationship and strengthen ties with the Instituto Superior deArte and the opera training conservatory in Cuba,” Offerle said. “They have many highly talented and trained musicians but few places to perform. It would be eye opening for our students to travel to Cuba and perform alongside the singers in their conservatory.”