Mozart y Mambo
La Bella Cubana

Mozart y Mambo – La Bella Cubana

With this album, subtitled La Bella Cubana, the Mozart y Mambo trilogy is complete. My dream of recording all four of the Mozart horn concertos has been fulfilled and I have learned so much about Cuban music – and Mozart – along the way. I feel changed as a person and as a musician. At this moment of farewell at the end of a most wonderful journey, there’s much joy, sadness and nostalgia all mixed up together.
Over the past three years, the Mozart y Mambo project has grown and grown. It’s incredible to think that in this time – a significant part of it during the Covid 19 pandemic – we have produced three albums and three documentary films, played two European tours, published the sheet music and created an instrument donation fund which has raised money to help many of my Cuban musicians. In Havana I have found another place on this earth to call home and have worked with incredible and dedicated musicians whom I am proud now to call my family. In the words of the famous pop song, I feel that ‘half of my heart is in Havana’ and one of the best compliments I have received during this project is that my friends there now think of me as a ‘Cubana’.

Having my Berlin Philharmonic colleagues join me in Havana to record Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante has made this third album even more magical and I am so grateful to them. And we had so much fun! But my biggest thank-you must go to my musical soulmate during the entire project, José Antonio
Méndez Padrón, known to us as Pepito. None of this would have been possible without him and I
will be forever grateful that the stars aligned us up to meet and to dream up this crazy, wonderful
project together. With Pepito at my side on the conductor’s podium (and as my salsa partner onstage in every concert!), I could embrace being a soloist which I had never done before. I have been inspired and dared by him to venture deeply into Cuban music and have loved every second of our collaboration. Pepito – gracias de todo corazón.

Sarah Willis, Havana 2023

Photos from La Bella Cubana Havana 2022 – by Monika Rittershaus