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  • Writer's pictureThe Rivers School

March 16: Recording Session at Abdala Studios, Sunset Dinner

Our recording day has finally arrived! We headed to the Miramar district of Havana to Producciones Abdala, the top recording studio in Cuba. 

After the soaring emotions and high energy of yesterday’s concert, musicians from all three schools had the chance to recreate the feel of the live performance in a professional studio. The walls leading into the space are lined with photos of famous Cuban recording artists, putting our band in the company of some of the greats!

We recorded “Mariella’s Dream” by Oscar Stagnaro, a piece that has served as the signature piece for the combined ensembles on this trip. The morning was spent arranging the musicians in the space, rehearsing, and getting used to the feel of the studio while the sound engineers adjusted technical details. Rivers jazz director Philippe Crettien conducted the groups and prepared the ensemble with a mix of one-on-one sectional coaching and larger ideas for the whole group. One notable change from the live version was the expanded solo section of the piece. As at the previous day’s concert, students took to the solo sections in duets, allowing Rivers, Nobles, and Escuela Nacional students to play off of each other, clarinet with clarinet, trumpet with trombone, and violin with guitar, as well as solo trombone, drums, percussion, tenor saxophone, bass guitar, and piano solos. This is another example of the beautiful partnership that has formed between the schools over the course of a week, and it now can be heard on a professional-quality recording. As Head of School Ryan Dahlem later shared with the group on the bus, “When you’re writing your music resumes later on, now you can say you recorded at Abdala studios in Cuba, the best recording studio in the country.”

We were also visited by a few notable guests. In a nearby studio, Roberto Fonseca, artistic director of the Havana Jazz Festival, was recording and paid a visit to our studio to say hello. “You’re in the presence of Cuban royalty,” Crettien told the group. “Roberto is the reason I came to Cuba in the first place.” We also received a visit from the head of Cuba’s national arts education system, who came to listen to our session and invite our three schools to officialize a partnership in the very near future, building on the friendship, camaraderie, and mutual interest of everyone involved this week. 

After a full day of recording and rehearsing, we headed to a beachfront restaurant to celebrate and take in the sunset on a terrace outside all together. Another wonderful day in Havana!


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