Harlem-Havana cultural exchange to bring Latin music, arts, food to New York



A passionate, generations-long affair between New York and Cuba is rekindling through the Harlem/Havana Music & Cultural Festival, a culture-packed exchange initiative of music, visual arts, dance, film, food and more, starting in Manhattan during Harlem Week in August.

After a half-century long hiatus due to the U.S. embargo against Cuba, the festival will bring Cuban musicians, artists, and culinary experts to Harlem Week-sponsored festivities Aug. 12 through 21, to start the annual event.

The festival continues in the winter, when Harlem cultural representatives reciprocate — traveling to Cuba to perform and share their talents with Havana audiences in February 2017.

“We thought that in made sense to go to Havana in February,” said Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Lloyd Williams at Sylvia’s Restaurant in Harlem Friday morning, raising chuckles from the audience of VIPs and media who agreed that Cuba’s year-round summer-like climate was much more desirable that a New York winter in February.


Respected celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson is working on the culinary aspect of the festival, which will start next month.

Afro-Cuban jazz groups, Cuban dance companies and others auditioned in March for the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce delegation, which visited the Caribbean nation during President Obama’s trip. Chamber reps selected the first Havana/Harlem festival participants.

Once back in New York, Williams said Harlem restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson and Ken Sunshine of Sunshine Sachs collaborated with the chamber to broaden the scope of the cultural exchange, which will also include a top Cuban chef and the participation of select New York restaurants.

Latin jazz saxophonist Cesar Lopez and Habana Ensemble; Jorge Luis Pacheco Y Su Grupo, led by the “fiery young pianist with “flying hands”; printmaking artist Eduardo (Choco) Roca; the JJ Folkloric Dance Company; the vibrant Fashion Project Arte Y Moda; and chef Raul Colon are the Havana contingent taking part in events at the Apollo Theater, The Dance Theater of Harlem, Samuelsson’s Red Rooster restaurant, Jazzmobile, the free SummerStage performing arts festival, Ginny’s Supper Club and other locations , in addition to activities at Macy’s department store and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.

More details on this exciting event can be found Here





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