Members of the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic were in Havana, Cuba last week on a MacArthur-supported cultural exchange, when the announcement of renewed diplomatic relations with the United States occurred. At rehearsals for an upcoming performance with music students at Cuba’s Universidad de las Artes, there were smiles, cheers, and some tears. CBS News’ 60 Minutes featured the historic moment in its segment on Cuba.
The Chicago Jazz Philharmonic cultural exchange in Cuba has its roots in a 2012 visit by Davis to conduct research for a new symphonic jazz composition. At that time, he met some of the students at the University; seeing their extraordinary talent and interest in jazz, he promised to return for a more in-depth training. The exchange was supported by MacArthur’s International Connections Fund.