For over two decades, KoSA Cuba Travel, a division of KoSA Music has taken travellers from all over the world to experience the beautiful country of Cuba with its rich culture, on a very personalized and distinctive level. The director and founder of KoSA Music, Aldo Mazza, an internationally recognized drummer and percussionist, along with his wife, Dr. Jolan Kovacs, has organized and hosted groups on this magical island with the mission of creating a very high level learning experience by working with Cuba’s finest artists and its vast musical community. Orchestras, choirs, big bands, musical ensembles of all kinds, as well as groups interested in learning more and experiencing the culture that has developed in Cuba have all benefited from KoSA Cuba Travel’s experience.

Recently, KoSA Cuba Travel had the pleasure of organizing a week-long performance and musical exchange tour in Havana from the Montreal, Quebec school “College Marie-Victorin”. Under the direction of their big band leader, trombonist Matthieu Van Vliet, the 21-member jazz ensemble performed successfully to a large audience in Havana, where their first concert was held at the famous Yara cinema-theatre in Vedado. The Office of The Quebec Delegation, celebrating the annual Francophonie week in Havana, invited the ensemble to perform at the Famous Yara theatre as part of the event as well. The next day, the youth jazz group called “Cuba Swing” from Matanzas, directed by the great musician Bruno Villalonga Millares, was invited to open the Canada Embassy-sponsored concert headlined by the Marie-Victorin Jazz Big Band. The groups performed in the well-known Pabellón Cuba open-air theatre. It was an unforgettable time and a true testimony to the borderless community of musicians communicating with passion without even speaking the same language. The concert was a resounding success. The theatre was packed and attendees included many elite international Cuban artists such as drummer Giraldo Piloto, percussionist Yaroldy Abreu and others. The Canadian Ambassador to Cuba, His Excellency Mr. John Geoffrey Gartshore, spoke to the enthusiastic audience about the joy and importance of such musical and cultural collaborations on an international scale. Each group performed separately and then joined together to perform together in the grand finale piece, leading to a standing ovation by the entire audience.

During their stay, the Canadian group spent a day at the Amadeo Roldan Conservatory High School, where they performed for the music students and enjoyed a performance by the Amadeo Roldan students. They also performed and sight-read a score together, demonstrating, once again, that through music, they could all speak the same language. The conductor, Matthieu, then gave a master class on trombone playing concepts and swing jazz while the bass teacher from the College Marie-Victorin, Sebastien Pellerin, led a workshop on improvisation in the blues. Finally the Amadeo Roldan teachers gave a workshop for the visiting band on the Cuban approach to rhythmic interpretation. The event culminated with both groups performing a piece of music at first sight as a grand finale.

Other highlights of the day included tours of the historic city centre, the Fortaleza de la Cabaña, as well as rumba concerts and the opportunity to play with various musicians in

restaurants and rooftop music venues at night. The trip was indeed a full musical immersion night and day and the students are still talking about this unparalleled experience of playing with great Cuban musicians such as pianist Ernán López Nussa and drummer Oliver Valdés, among others, during their visit to Havana. Plans are already underway to make this trip an annual experience for the College’s students. Clearly, the Canadian-Cuban musical collaboration was a great success!(For Cuba travel program bookings: