More than 70 North Shore High School music students in the band, orchestra and chorus along with their teachers recently returned from a life-changing trip to Cuba. The historic public school performance tour came at the threshold of 21st Century global change as Cuba opens its doors to the United States. This year, the music department at North Shore High School was one of the first schools in the United States to perform in Cuba since the U.S. lifted the embargo at the end of 2015. Additionally, it came at the same time as North Shore celebrates its 10th anniversary performance tour.
“Art has always been part of the vanguard of social change,” said Michael Kerschner, director of choral studies. “Part of the mission of our touring program is to be artistic ambassadors between the people of different cultures and nations. This tour was part of a long American tradition where artists encourage diplomatic progress by humanizing events.”
“Our students got to perform across the country and interact with Cuban teens who were also musicians,” band director David Soto said. “The students connected despite the barrier. Music being the universal language really brought them together.” He continued, “Watching them play side by side. Watching them hear each other perform was eye-opening and I think the kids were transformed because of that experience.”
Over the years, North Shore students have consistently remarked that these tours have been truly life changing. Not only have they allowed them to pursue their love and passion for music, but also these unique and remarkable experiences will remain with them forever as they go to college and embark on their careers.
North Shore High School musician Matthew Greco said, “I can honestly say that this trip has changed my life forever.”
For a decade, North Shore musicians, under the supervision of their teachers, have toured numerous countries including Italy, Austria, Hungary, Spain, Argentina, Uruguay, Croatia, Slovakia and Slovenia. They have been invited to play in famous music halls and cathedrals around the world, performing for numerous people while also embracing their various cultures.
In Cuba, the North Shore musicians toured famous sites in Havana, Old Havana and Santa Clara, including Plaza de las Armas, Plaza de la Cathedral, Jose Marti Park, El Templete, Valle Palace, Government Palace, Caridad Theatre, Camren Palace and Ernesto Guevara Masoleum. Additionally, they performed at Teatro Marti, Teatro Terry and La Caridad Teatro.
“After decades of barriers between students from our two countries, they had the historic opportunity to be at the center of an extraordinary, cultural exchange,” said Jason Domingo, orchestra director.