MOZART y MAMBO BY SARAH WILLIS
There is a statue of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in Havana. On my first visit to Cuba in 2017, I was told by one of the local musicians: “Mozart would have been been a good Cuban”. I was intrigued by this comment and thus began the inspiration for this album which was recorded in Havana, Cuba in January, 2020 and released by Alpha Classics on July 10th, 2020.
At the time of my first visit to Cuba, I had already been dancing salsa for many years so I knew and loved Cuban popular music. Salsa, son, mambo, bolero – these are my idea of musical heaven. But the Cuban classical scene was completely unknown to me. I had been asked to give a French horn masterclass on my first trip there but had no idea what to expect – how many horn players could there be in Cuba? I was blown away by how many turned up to class, how well they played and how full of music they all were. I felt an immediate connection with my new Cuban musician friends and through them, I started to discover the classical music culture of Cuba. Mozart’s statue in Old Havana began to make complete sense. I decided then and there to do what I could to raise awareness for the wonderful classical music-making going on in Cuba.
Thus the “Mozart y Mambo” project was born. This exciting, unique and, I admit, somewhat crazy project combines much-loved solo pieces for French horn by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with traditional Cuban music. These are perhaps not the most obvious pairing but to all those who ask me, why record Mozart in Cuba, I can only say – once you hear it, you will know why. The energy and passion of these musicians is so inspiring and I hope you will be able to hear the special atmosphere we created during the recording. This project has been one of the highlights of my life and we are so happy that 3b Produktion were with us and made a wonderful documentary about the project called “A Cuban Journey with Sarah Willis, which was broadcast on Deutsche Welle TV.
I am happy and proud to have worked on this album with the Havana Lyceum Orchestra, a chamber orchestra made up of young and talented Cuban musicians and their Cuban conductor José Antonio Méndez Padrón (Pepe), and also well-known musicians from the Cuban popular music scene. I could not have wished for a more inspiring and hard working team of musicians with whom to realise this project. Part of the proceeds from the album will go towards buying instruments for the musicians of the Havana Lyceum Orchestra.!Disfrutar!
Havana, Cuba 2020
On June 27th 2020, Deutsche Welle TV broadcast the documentary film Mozart y Mambo-A Cuban Journey with Sarah Willis – directed by Magdalena Zieba-Schwind and produced by 3B Produktion. It is a wonderful film and I promise that these extra videos will make you smile too!