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Oct. 19-26, 2008, Cuba
KoSA Cuba 2008 review: Culture, Music and Fun in Historic Havana

In its seventh year, KoSA played host to participants and artist faculty alike in the legendary city of Havana. This year, the KoSA Cuba Workshop teamed up with the Havana International Drum Festival – "Fiesta Del Tambor" directed by the multi-talented Giraldo Piloto (Klimax). Fiesta Del Tambor was established to honor the great Cuban drummer, composer and arranger Guillermo Barreto (Tommy Dorsey, Nat "King"; Cole). Barreto was Piloto's uncle.

True to its worldwide reputation, the KoSA workshops in Cuba provided a one-of-a-kind experience to some 30 attendees. Coming from Europe, the United States and Canada, participants have described their experience at KoSA Cuba as "an unforgettable immersion of Cuban culture and music”. This year, KoSA Cuba expanded its programs to include tailor-made school band trips. Our guest high-school jazz band this year was from Brandon, Manitoba and is directed by Brent Campbell.

Throughout the week, all attendees were immersed in both intimate hands-on classes and in larger-group masterclasses featuring instruction on congas, bongos, timbales, dance, drumset, Cuban rhythms, sectionals and ensemble playing.

KoSa Cuba 2008 faculty included Giraldo Piloto, leader of the famed group Klimax, José Luis Quintana (Changuito), Enrique Pla (Irakere), Tomás Ramos (El Panga), Jean Roberto san Cristobal, Julio Lopez Sanchez (Klimax), multi-talented composer and KoSA Faculty AlumnusMemo Acevedo (LP), and KoSA Founder, international performer and instructor, Aldo Mazza. Other artists on hand were Amadito Valdez (Buena Vista Social Club), Adel Gonzales (Afro-Cuba All Stars), Tata Guines Jr., Oliver Valdez, and El Peje (Chucho Valdez).

The week began with an extremely informative session on the history and development of Cuban music by ethnomusicologist Dr. Olavo. Each day participants were treated to a full menu of activities including classes, visiting Cuba's music schools, attending authentic rumba sessions, practicing in Piloto’s personal rehearsal studios, participating in a traditional religious Yorubaceremony, visiting the historical sites of Havana and going to concerts by Cuba’s top artists.

A highlight for the high-school jazz band was their performances both at the Canadian Embassy and in Havana’s beautiful "Amadeo Roldan” theatre where the concert was filmed for Cuban television. Funds raised from this event were used toward Cuba's post hurricane rebuilding efforts.

Plans are already under way for the next KoSA Cuba at La Fiesta del Tambor in Spring 2010. KoSA Cuba "School Band Tours” are now offered at various times in fall and spring of each year. All KoSA events are open to the international community and include the KoSA Cuba International Percussion Workshops (directed by Aldo Mazza and coordinated by partner Dr. Jolán Kovács-Mazza).

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