Artistic Director's Report 2015-2016

Submitted bysite onSat, 6 Aug 2016 - 12:03 pm

AGM– Artistic Director’s Report – Jeff Goodspeed
LOS PRIMOS PROJECT Year End March 31, 2016
April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016

The 2015/16 fiscal year was pivotal for Los Primos. Our first trip to Romerias de Mayo International Youth Arts Festival in May Holguin, and the Back Alley Big Band performance in Havana at the Leo Brauwer Festival de la Voix Humanes, together created the biggest year yet for Los Primos “in Cuba”. Over 100 Nova Scotians traveled to Cuba as part our project. The reputation and respect that we are gaining with the Cuban Ministries of Culture, Education and Tourism, The Canadian Embassy in Havana and the Cuban Embassy in Ottawa, are leading toward a much higher profile in Canada and in Cuba. This is due in large part to the work and notoriety of Augusto Enriquez. Our partnership NSCC has become an important tool for delivering international learning opportunities to students at the College. We have also laid the groundwork for Alison Enriquez to be the first Cuban student to come to Nova Scotia for schooling with the help of Los Primos.

2015/16 Los Primos Projects

  1. Romerias de Mayo International Youth Arts Festival – 70 people with 70 instruments for donation, traveled to Holguin to celebrate 70 years of Canada/Cuba official relations by throwing 70 beach balls to the audience at end of the Romerias de Mayo parade. It was quite a scene and made the Cuban National Television News.
  2. In July, I made a trip to Cuba to prepare for a concert that Augusto was presenting in Revello Italy. Later in the summer Alison was accepted at Armbrae Academy with a close to full scholarship.
  3. The Back Alley Big Band with Augusto Enriquez performed Sinatra Meets Moré at the Festival de la Voix Humanes in October.
  4. Vocal Work shops in November by Augusto
  5. The Back Alley Big Band with Augusto was the headline at the Dance for All Ages
  6. February and March we spent fundraising for Alison’s attendance of high school at Armbrea Academy beginning in September of 2016

1. Festival Romerías de Mayo – May 2015

This adventure was the first time that the Nova Scotia Community College officially partnered with Los Primos and it was a big success. 27 NSCC music students (faculty and friends) flew to Holguin on Sunwing to make a cultural exchange with the music school in Holguin. Four days later two Satellite Primos groups (friends and family) flew on Air Transat to join them in the Romerias de Mayo parade. We also established what will, be the first of many “Dia Canada” concerts as part of the Romerias de Mayo youth Arts Festival. Our NSCC partners in this trip found a project that fits their international program and we assisted them in making a return visit to the festival for 12 students and faculty in May of 2016. The Satellite Primos group carried on to the city of Bayamo after the departure of the NSCC students, and enjoyed a cultural exchange with the music school in Bayamo. This is and important school in Cuba as it was build in the early 2000’s to help preserve the unique arts and cultural heritage of Oriente. We donated 34 instruments to this school including a guitar donated to us by Myles Goodwin (of April Wine fame). The school in Holguin received 30 instruments and at the “Dia Canada” concert 5 private donations were made to the Cuban students who joined us in this concert. The beautiful Cello that was purchased at cost price from the Bowed Instrument Shop (thank you Jim Danson), with funds raised with Alison’s classical concert at the Music Room, was donated to the National Symphonic Orchestra. It must be noted here in this report that Long and McQuade musical instrument repair department reconditioned all of these instruments at no charge to Los Primos Project. Our students played on these instruments and then we left them behind.

2. Summer

Augusto spent many years performing in Italy and last summer he was invited to return for a concert in the very prestigious Revello Music Festival. We rehearsed only 4 days before leaving for a very short trip to Italy. The band included Alejandro and Alison Enriquez, Yamile Casanueva, as well as two legendary Cuban musicians Frank Rubio on bass and Alfred Thompson on piano. It was a spectacularly beautiful setting with the stage sticking out of a mountainside over looking the Mediterranean. After returning to Cuba we then flew to Nova Scotia to enjoy the rest of the summer touring around Nova Scotia with performances that included Carla Bezanson on piano, Matt MacLennan on bass and David Burton on drums. The highlight was 3 performances at the Cape Breton Jazz Festival and a performance at a special Cuban Art presentation called Island to Island which was put together by long time friend of Los Primos Laura Mercer and arts advocate and Cuba fan, Brenda Durdle. The big news of the summer was my visit to the Armbrae Academy private school. After speaking with the headmaster Gary O’Meara about the possibility of Alison spending her high school years at his school, he invited her in for an interview. Augusto and I went with Alison and she played piano, sang and played violin for Gary. He immediately said that he would accept her into the school and that the tuition would be minimal.

3. La Voix Humanes

Perhaps the most exciting event of 2015/16 was the presentation of Sinatra Meets Moré at the Karl Marx theatre in Havana. Leo Brouwer (famous Cuban classical guitarist and composer) invited Augusto to play in his Festival de la Voix Humanes. They wanted to feature the music of Frank Sinatra as it was the 100th anniversary of his birth. They decided that it would be a great idea to juxtapose this iconic American singer with his Cuban contemporary Benny Moré. They decided to invite the Back Alley Big Band because they felt the swing would be more authentic. Thanks to the incredible energy and dedication of Los Primos co-chair Paul Barrett, this show became a reality. His investment in time and financial support should be noted here in this report because without it, 20 Canadian musicians would never have had this opportunity. And they were blown away. They loved Havana and got a chance to see how Los Primos Project has become a big part of the Cuban music scene.

4. Vocal Workshops in November

A Big thank you to Linda Rosborough and Cheryl Edgett who continue to promote and present vocal workshops under the Los Primos banner featuring Augusto and other high profile vocal mentors to the large community of singers in Halifax who love to practice their passion. This year’s session was held at Dalhousie.

5. Dance For All Ages

The sixteenth annual Dance for All Ages was held on Feb 27 again at the Olympic Community Hall. Augusto and the Back Alley Big Band were the headline act this year and although attendance was impacted by other events that evening, the attendance was up a bit from last year. The event again provided the Satellite Primos a great opportunity to play on a big stage with full production. NSCC students volunteering did an exemplary job and we must acknowledge the contribution of past member Tracy Hamilton and our chief bar manager and bottle washer, Jim Hamilton. Tiffinie Laing again did an excellent job of coordinating plans for the event, organizing volunteers and managing the house on the night of.

Annual Los Primos Raffle (review)

Total Raffle sales from our partners selling tickets across Nova Scotia were $38, 500, up from last year @$34,000, but down from our goal of $45,000. Of note is we had three long time participants who general have sales of $3000+ that were unable to do it this year as a result of change of schools. In addition to partner sales, Satellite Primos students sold $1000 worth which they were permitted to apply to their clinic fees. We sold $757 internally and at the dance we has $566 of ticket sales. There were another $3,500 worth of tickets sold by NSCC students working to pay for their trips to Cuba. As always students who are working towards a Los Primos Musical Study tour, are able to use 100% of their sales to offset the cost of their trip. We also used the raffle as a funding tool at Alison’s education fund raisers and we had another $1900 of ticket sales there. Total gross sales were $48,100.

Our raffle winners this year were... (Article)

Trip for 4 to Cuba - Don MacLean of Fall River who decided to take the $4000 option for his prize. The winning ticket was sold by Sackville Height Junior High Ticket seller Laiden Smith. Out ticket seller prizes of Gift certificates at Long & McQuade went to...

$750 Alyssa Tufts – Halifax Girls Honour Chior
$500 Rachel Loughery – Dartmouth All City Music
$300 Kate MacDonald – Madeline Simmons Middle School in Hammonds Plains
$200 Sam Gallant – Pine Ridge Middle School in Greenwood

6. Winter fund raising for Alison

We spent much of February and March playing special concerts to raise money for Alison’s education fund. We raised a total of $7,800 out of which we paid airfare for Alison and Avi (Garcia) to be here Nova Scotia. Special thanks to Janet Stevens Law, Colleen Ashworth and Paul Barrett each for their $1000 donations. Klarol Garcia was also with us as the coordinator of the Romerias de Mayo festival and we were involved in many planning meeting for the NSCC trip to Cuba in May 2016. Klarol also proved herself to be an amazing fund raiser. Alison’s education fund is currently with $6300. We will require at least another $6000 to ensure that she can participate fully at Armbrea Academy and we will work on that this summer.

Satellite Primos update –

The Tantallon Primos under the direction of Alexis Schurman and Kristen Wells and the Rockingham Primos under the direction of David Burton both went to Cuba with us in May 2015. They performed and presented themselves very well. Both groups remained very healthy throughout the year. In December of 2015 the Delmore Buddy Daye Learning Institute approved funding for the Preston Primos in the amount of $7500. These funds were used to pay for operational cost of the program during winter of 2105 and winter of 2016. There were no Preston Primos rehearsals in the fall as we were awaiting the approval of funding through this new body.

The Senior Primos were renamed Los Primos Meyores. All groups played at the June 5, 2016 celebration of 13 years of Sunday Jazz at Stayners Wharf.

Coming this year...

  • Augusto and I are putting together a band to feature music from his album Eclectic-Us. We will be featured at the Jazz Festival on July 16th.
  • Alison with be at Armbrae Academy in September
  • Planning of our April/May 2017 trip for 150 people to Holguin for the University of Holguin Canadian Studies Conference and the Romerias de Mayo
  • On Oct 3 the Back Alley Big Band will play in Ottawa with Augusto, at the invitation of the Cuban Ambassador to Canada. The invited guests will include the members of both the House of Commons and the Senate.

In closing I would like to thank the members of this board of directors who continue to help Los Primos and the exciting things that this project makes happen every year. It is a huge part of what I do in my busy life spent with young musicians and I am so grateful that these busy people feel that it is worth their time and energy to support.