The morning after their big concert and the Afro-Cuban celebration of Chango, the Berklee students enjoyed perhaps the highlight of their Cuban experience—a visit to the home of Chucho Valdés. Just back from a tour, Valdés treated the students to the story of how he first met Berklee founders Lawrence and Alma Berk at the Havana nightclub Tropicana and was offered a scholarship to the school (which he unfortunately wasn’t able to accept).

Enrico de Trizio Playing Chucho's Piano

Photo by Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons

Finding out that Enrico de Trizio played piano, Valdés offered him the use of the piano in his studio. Enrico took him up on it, first playing an instrumental and then, with Julia Easterlin, “Silencio.” Then Enrico yielded the bench to Valdés, who played a song off his new CD, Chucho’s Steps. Discussing the structure of the song afterwards, Valdés even offered to email Enrico the changes.

Chucho Valdés and the Interarts Ensemble

Photo by Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons

It was an unbelievable end to a trip where students were not only exposed to a new culture but—in the course of preparing site-specific music for two concerts—were forced to discover new capabilities within themselves. Berklee is working to make the Interarts Ensemble’s trip a biannual event, in order to offer the opportunity to even more students, so stay tuned.

Read more posts from Berklee’s inaugural trip to Cuba:

Brenda Pike
Latest posts by Brenda Pike (see all)