Classically Cuban Concert

Image: carlos-averhoff.png
Text adapted from Gisela Valencia's article for FIU News

Since 1994, FIU's Cuban Research Institute (CRI) has organized an annual concert series featuring music on Cuban themes by Cuban and other composers. The purpose of this public event is to celebrate, preserve, and promote the rich and diverse musical heritage of Cuba and its diaspora.

CRI held the 13th installment of its Classically Cuban concert series on December 3, 2017, at the Wertheim Performing Arts Center of the FIU School of Music on the Modesto A. Maidique Campus. This year's concert was dedicated to Latin jazz, in honor of the renowned Cuban saxophonist and former FIU music professor Carlos Averhoff, Sr. FIU President Dr. Mark Rosenberg welcomed the audience to the event.

"The Cuban Research Institute was pleased to recognize the work of Carlos Averhoff Sr.," Cuban Research Institute Director Jorge Duany said. "Mr. Averhoff made a significant contribution to the development of Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz, since his days as a founding member of the Cuban ensembles Irakere and NG La Banda to his memorable jam sessions in Little Havana and his mentoring of several generations of music students in Miami."

To honor Averhoff's legacy, his son—a Latin Grammy-nominated tenor saxophonist, contemporary Afro-Cuban Jazz composer, and educator—directed this year's Classically Cuban Concert.

Titled "Together: In Memory of Carlos Averhoff, Sr.," the concert boasted an impressive lineup of artists—all of whom performed with the musician during his lifetime. The set list included Grammy award-winning trumpeter Brian Lynch, flutist Néstor Torres, and saxophonist Aldo Salvent; vocalists Malena Burke and Maggie Marquez; and pianist Jim Gasior. They interpreted pieces the elder Averhoff performed during his career.

"I am very happy that we were able to celebrate this concert at FIU, the place where he was working until his last days," Averhoff Jr. said. "He had a lot of students and former students from FIU, part of his life was here. We tried to bring this energy, remember him, and try to share some stories, try to play for him."

At the concert, the younger Averhoff played several tunes from his father's albums. He also played a piece he was able to record with his father in the summer of 2016, just a few months before the musician's death. This piece and various others were originally intended for Averhoff Jr.'s special album, "Together"--a labor of love that he envisioned as an album father and son would, as the title suggests, work on together.

Carlos Averhoff, Sr., was a recognized tenor saxophonist in the Latin jazz world, as well as an educator. Born in Matanzas, Cuba, he graduated from Havana's Conservatorio Amadeo Roldán with a major in classical music. In 1973 he was a founding member of the world renowned Cuban jazz group Irakere. In 1980, he received a Grammy Award for the album Irakere. Throughout his lifetime, he collaborated with prominent musicians such as Chucho Valdés, Paquito D'Rivera, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Emiliano Salvador, and Horacio "El Negro" Hernández. He was a Professor of Music at Florida International University until December 2016.

Carlos Averhoff, Jr., is a tenor saxophonist, bandleader, composer, and educator. Born in Havana, Cuba, he was classically trained in Cuba's top music schools Manuel Saumel Conservatory of Music, Amadeo Roldán School of Music, and Higher Institute of Art. He continued his education in the United States, earning a bachelor's degree (Summa Cum Laude) at the Berklee College of Music and a master's degree with honors from the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music. He recently earned a teacher fellow position at the University of North Texas in Denton, where he started his doctoral studies.

The event was cosponsored by the FIU School of Music, the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center (LACC), the FIU Libraries, the African and African Diaspora Studies Program, and El Nuevo Herald.

Click here to see pictures of the 2017 Classically Cuban concert.

To view videos and photographs of the 2016 concert, click here.