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Arturo O’Farrill Returns to Cuba for Repatriation of Father

Eight-day cultural diplomacy trip includes live performances

Composer, pianist and educator Arturo O’Farrill and his non-profit group the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance (ALJA) will travel to Cuba for a cultural diplomacy trip of repatriation for his father, the late Latin-jazz legend Chico O’Farrill, on Oct. 29.

The trip will commemorate Chico’s legacy and 95th birthday, marking his return to Cuba at the Basilica of San Francisco de Asís. With restored U.S.-Cuba relations, O’Farrill will fulfill his father’s dream of returning to his birthplace, nearly 70 years after he left Cuba.

“A son of Cuba returns home after decades,” Arturo O’Farrill said in a press release. “I felt the will of my father and his need to rest from whence he came. It became my duty to see this through. Our journey is not about politics, ideology, nationalism or patriotism, but instead shows how love is more powerful than time, distance or human pettiness. This moment was born in a dream but realized by people of goodwill: Presidents Barack Obama and Raúl Castro, and all those who’ve labored tirelessly to see that Cuba and the United States have a common destiny yet to be fulfilled but written in the stars and in the hearts of fathers, mothers, sons and daughters.”

O’Farrill has been labeled a “jazz ambassador,” having spent more than a decade fighting for the normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations. In 2016, his “The Afro Latin Jazz Suite,” off Cuba: The Conversation Continues (Motéma), received a Grammy Award.

The trip will also include a live performance by O’Farrill and members of the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra with the Havana Chamber Orchestra conducted by Guido López-Gavilán (Oct. 29: Basilica de San Fracisco de Asis), an official visit with the dean of music at the Instituto Superior de Arte, Maria Rosa Hernández, and a performance at the Palacio O’Farrill (Oct. 31).

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Originally Published