Posted by: Marysol | October 27, 2014

Back from a long hiatus

I can’t believe it has been over two years since my last fieldwork trip to Cuba, and I have not posted much on this site during that time period. In fact, my last official post dates from July 2012! Although I have not returned to Cuba I continued conducting research and I’m in the last year of writing my dissertation. Since July 2012, I visited two archives in the U.S. which hold an extensive and impressive amount of documents regarding Cuban history: the University of Miami’s Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC) and Florida International University’s Diaz Ayala Music Collection. As its name implies the Diaz Ayala Music Collection focuses on music, in particular recordings of popular music from Cuba, and the Caribbean in general. But, it also holds many rare recordings of classical Cuban music produced in Cuba during the 1970s and 80s. The CHC does not specialize in music, but holds periodicals, documents, monographs, and personal collections regarding all aspects of Cuban culture and history. I highly recommend visiting the CHC to anyone working on projects dealing with anything Cuban.

In these last two years I have also been busy teaching, working at Indiana University’s Latin American Music Center, continuing my research and writing, presenting at conferences, and making progress towards my dissertation. In preparing an annotated bibliography on Classical Music in Cuba, I have come across newer resources that mat be of interest to this blog’s readers. One significant resource is the Gabinete de Patrimonio Musical Esteban Salas, sponsored by the Oficina del Historiador de la Ciudad de La Habana. I created a tab on this blog page listing Archives and Research Resources in Cuba. Because my research focuses on twentieth-century music, I did not use the Gabinete’s resources when I visited Havana. However, I did meet the scholars leading the research initiatives and I have read some of the (impressive) publications that have resulted from their research efforts. Anyone focusing on music from Colonial Latina America should take advantage of the Gabinete’s connections to the church and cathedral archives throughout Cuba.

In these last two years I also created a personal website to list my past and current scholarly activities. I will be adding new links to the resources pages of the “My Research in Cuba” site. Please follow the blog and sign up for updates.

Posted by: Marysol | July 7, 2012

Reir es cosa seria


I have spent the last couple of weeks finishing up at the various archives. Yesterday I went to the National Electroacoustic Music Lab, which is run by one of Juan Blanco’s son, Emanuel. They have a treasure-trove of electroacoustic music recordings, which will have to wait for a later project, after I finish the dissertation. I interviewed composers Roberto Valera and Hector Angulo. I met Valera at his office in the UNEAC (Artists’ Union), since he is the vice-president. The office is located on the second floor in a beautiful building in Vedado, which must have originally been a residence. I had to go up an elegant, neo-classical marble staircase illuminated from the light of a stained glass window to reach the second floor, a reminder of the wealth some Cuban families enjoyed prior to the Revolution. Valera’s interview was candid, and at times I didn’t know if he was joking or being serious, he has a deadpan way of delivering punch lines, good thing I am used to it.

I interviewed Hector Angulo in the balcony of his 17th floor apartment in the middle of Vedado, which had a great view of the City. Well into the interview a neighbor a few floors up dumped a bucket of water out their balcony, which conveniently landed all over me. Angulo was outraged, and yelled all kinds of things to the neighbors, threatening to call the police. He was extremely apologetic, and didn’t know how to make it up to me. I told him not to worry, that it was not big deal (the water didn’t smell like anything in particular, so that was a good sign). He had all kinds of stories of his experience in NYC while he was studying at the Manhattan School of Music back in the 1960s.

On Thursday Prisca and I went to a comedy show, “Reir es cosa seria” (Laughing is a serious matter), which featured characters from the “teatro vernáculo.” The main figures were the “negrito” and the “gallego,” and it included appearances of a mulata (Cecilia la O, a play on the two most famous Cuban zarzuela mulatas, Maria la O and Cecilia Valdes) and a chinito. The “plot” of the show consisted on the “negrito” convincing the “gallego” of putting together a cabaret show to make money, now that Cubans can open their own businesses to make a profit. The show included several musical parodies of well-known Cuban popular tunes, such as “Mama Ines,” where they pointed out all the frustrating situations Cubans have to deal with on their daily lives, such as not finding certain food staples at the bodega, or paying really high taxes. The show had a house band, and a choir of men in straw hats, kakis and long-sleeve guayaveras, who had their own numbers, and accompany the negrito and the gallego. After the show Prisca commented that most of the jokes would not be broadcasted on television, because they were too critical of certain situations in the country and therefore would be censored. After being in Cuba for almost two months, I was able to get most of the jokes, and I could see how they would not be tolerated on radio or television.

The weather has following the all-too-familiar patterns of summer in the Caribbean, sunny and hot in the mornings, with a shower or two in the afternoons.  I return to the U.S. on Wednesday, so my next blog post will be back in Bloomington, Indian. I think I will post something about the things I will miss and I will not miss from Cuba.

Posted by: Marysol | June 23, 2012

I can’t stop the rain


This last week has gone by a lot more slowly than the others. I think the slower passing of time signals the nearing of the end of the research trip. It has rained every single day, which makes the temperature cooler and the shoes wetter. The rain was so torrential on Wednesday that my tennis shoes were completely soaked by the time I got to the house. I had to cross a few small rivers to get home.

Last weekend I spent a few hours each day coaching three singers on their English pronunciation. Raul, Prisca’s husband, is putting together a band to play at a club called “El submarino amarillo,” (The Yellow Submarine). As you can imagine, all the music played at this club has to be in English, so Raul selected a repertory of good ol’ classics from Kool and the Gang, Earth, Wind and Fire, and the like. I’ll just say that some of the singers have a better ear for catching the little nuances of the English language than others.

Last Sunday was a beautiful sunny day, and I got to interview Alfredo Diez Nieto, who turns 94 later this year. Without giving too much away (I have to save this info for my dissertation, after all), I’ll say he has some great stories about concert life before the Revolution, and after too.

This week I went to the UNEAC (artists’ union) to see if they had any of the programs from the new music festivals they have had throughout the years, but the people who are in charge of that type of information right now have no idea of where they could be. Luckily, the librarian at the CIDMUC saved many of them, and was able to show me many other concert programs that music ensembles themselves haven’t kept throughout the years.

The power was out when I got to the CIDMUC on Friday, and the administrators decided to send everyone home, since they could get little done without power. It wasn’t a very productive day, but I had time to go pick up my plane ticket at a special office of the travel agency in Cuba that made my reservation for my flight back to Miami. When I got to the office there was a line, and several people were “discussing” (to put it politely) with other clients all the horrible things they were going to encounter when they got to the U.S. The conversation got pretty heated, and I stayed out of it, knowing nothing good could come from getting involved. There was this one lady who currently lives in the U.S. and told a couple of other ladies who were traveling to the U.S.  for the first time that they were going to cry once they got there, and they were going to want to return, because things are so bad in the U.S. The ladies who were traveling to the U.S. probably have an idealized, romanticized view of what they will encounter in the U.S. and the other lady probably has an idealized, romanticized (nostalgic, probably) view of what life is like in Cuba. It was an interesting situation to witness, but I was glad when they left, as the office got a lot quieter.

Less than three weeks remain until I get to come home, and although I still have a bit of research to get done, I’m looking forward to being back home, and ­_not_ eating rice and beans and fried food every day (I will definitely need to do a detox diet when I return).

Posted by: Marysol | June 16, 2012

Cuando calienta el sol


Last Sunday I went to a recital with Prisca, at the Palacio de los matrimonios. It was on the top floor, in a large, beautifully decorated room. The recital featured pianist Leonardo Gell, and most of the music was by Cuban composers. Juan Piñera was there, since two of his pieces were premiered in the recital. The rest of the week was pretty uneventful, more of the same: going to the libraries, doing research, coming home—and it has been much hotter than the last few weeks, with a lot less rain. While I was at the CIDMUC on Thursday there was a presentation by a person who works on economics and culture, and in particular for the Colibrí record label. He focused on how the changing economic models affect music production, a very interesting topic considering that the political party recently restructured their economic plan. It remains to be seen how this will affect the production and dissemination of Cuban music on the long run.

On Tuesday, two American documentary film makers called me at the house, since we had already made contacts through email through a friend. They wanted to meet and talk, and they also needed a place to stay, and since Prisca had a free room at the house, they ended up coming to the house where they stayed until today. They are on a recon mission to figure out who they will feature in their documentary, and plan all the logistics for when they return to Cuba to film the documentary. They want to capture the daily lives of people in Cuba, but focusing on some musicians and people involved in the music industry, but their project is still taking shape (much like mine).

On Wednesday I was able to photograph several scores I still needed from the CIDMUC, I set up an interview with Alfredo Diez Nieto for this next Sunday. Die Nieto is one of the few living composers who lived before and after the revolution, so this interview in particular is of extreme importance. I also received an email from the lady at the Havanatur travel agency with the reservation number for my return flight, which means I have my flight back to Miami confirmed for July 11!

After a busy and productive week I got to visit Varadero with Raul and Prisca on Friday. Raul had to go to Varadero to pick up their son, Ruly, and bring him back to Havana, and asked me if I wanted to go visit Varadero, and go to the beach, and I obviously couldn’t say no. We got there around 1pm, the beach was quiet, the sand was fine and white, the water clear and clam; it was the perfect beach day. We had a great lunch from a street vendor who had congri, mariquitas, fufu and lomo de cerdo ahomado (smoked pork chops), yum! Some stormy clouds rolled in around 3pm, so we decided to leave the beach and go wait for Ruly at the hotel where the tour bus was dropping them off. We had to wait longer than expected, but that is how timing works in Cuba. We got back to Havana around 7:30pm, tired and salty from the beach, and I was wishing that my husband had been here to enjoy the beach with me. He’ll definitely have to come to Cuba with me next time I have to do research here.

Posted by: Marysol | June 5, 2012

Charanga y musica electronica

Last week was extremely productive, and very busy. On Sunday, May 27 I went to a concert with Prisca. The Matanzas Symphony Orchestra played two guitar concertos, as it was the closing concerto for Cuba Disco, which this year focused on string instruments. On Monday I went to the ISA again, to see if my academic visa was ready, and to interview Sigried Macías, a young composer who teaches at the ISA and who works mostly on electroacoustic music. On Tuesday I went to the UNEAC to skim through some documents from the first UNEAC meeting, and then I hopped on a collective taxi to go to the Music Museum in Habana Vieja. As I look (I’m still looking) through the boxes of materials for the José Ardévol collection I am finding more and more documents relevant to my research, but which bring up more questions than what they answer, that’s a good thing, right? I finished my week by spending Wednesday and Thursday at the CDIMUC, and Friday at the Museum. While I was at the CIDMUC on Wednesday I met a Cuban student who currently lives in Canada, and is moving to Pittsburg in the fall to pursue a doctorate in history. We talked about our research interests, and exchanged contact info, and we have seen each other at other research institutions.

Last Thursday the CIDMUC library closed a little early because the CIDMUC was hosting an educational concert with the Charanga Rubalcabal. The CIDMUC honored Gonzalo Rubalcabal, and the orchestra performed for about 45 minutes. A social group of older people, who get together to dance danzones and other music traditionally played by charanga bands, was there and danced while the orchestra played. After the Charnanga performance I went to the UNEAC, where there was a concert of new music by younger composers, including an electroacoustic piece by Sigried. A group of students from Michigan State University attended the concert. The students from MSU are completing courses on cultural preservation at the Colegio San Geronimo in Habana Vieja. It was a day of extremes in terms of music performances, first with the Charanga Rubalcabal, and later with electroacoustic music. After the concert Sigried introduced me to Juan Piñera, one of the composer I need to interview, and we agreed to meet the following Tuesday at the ISA to do the interview. I also reintroduced myself to composer Guido Lopez-Gavilan (whom I met in my visit last year), asking him if I could interview him sometime, and he gave me his home number so we can later get in touch and figure out when to do the interview.

On Saturday morning I went to the Hotel Melia Coiba again to video chat with my husband and my parents. The internet was not as fast and efficient as the last couple of Saturdays, but I was still able to talk to my family for a little bit. This weekend I tried a new Paladar (which is the term Cubans use to label nice restaurants that are privately owned, and that offer good food for a moderate price; there is a story behind the term Paladar, but I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to explain it correctly). The paladar “El Acertijo” is a few blocks away from the house I’m staying at, and they make a really tasty almond milkshake.
On Monday I went to the Music Museum to continue going through José Ardévol’s personal collection. While returning from the Museum in the late afternoon I asked the cab driver to drop me off on 23st and Ave. de los Presidentes, where I planned to buy an ice cream cone before heading home. To my disappointment, the ice cream place was out of cones and they were selling any ice cream, so I went home hot, sweaty, sticky and without my ice cream cone .

On a happier note, I just went to the office of International Relations at the ISA, and got my academic visa, which allows me to stay in Cuba until July 11, and now I can go to the travel agency to change my return flight to July 11.

Posted by: Marysol | May 26, 2012

Rain, lobster and flan


Last Monday I went to the ISA, where the librarian, Mercedes del Sol, showed me new files and materials on the Cuban composers I’m studying. These included scores, recordings, documentaries and books, all in digital format that I easily copied to my external hard drive. I had lunch with the dean and vice-dean of the music department, and later went to the main library to look at thesis written by ISA students on the composers and music that I’m researching. The library had air conditioning and wifi, which made it feel comfortable and familiar. I was able to chat on facebook with my husband, my dad, my sister, and one of my best friends. Heavy downpour started around 2pm. I camped out in the library, until I thought the rain had eased up enough to head back to the house where I’m staying. To get back to the house from the ISA I have to take one of the collective taxis, usually a 1950s Chevy, or something like that. But the rain hadn’t really stopped, and after walking in the rain for two minutes, oh did I mention I didn’t bring an umbrella that day?, I decided to wait under a covered area until it subsided a little more. I waited for about 20 minutes, and then headed to catch one of the taxis. The roads and sidewalks were flooded, which made just walking to the taxi stop an adventure in itself. I waited for a cab, but everyone that drove by was already full, so I had to walk further up the line to catch one before it got packed. After I got in the cab a group of three college-age girls got in. They did not stop talking until they got off the cab. As we drove by another cab, they noticed the driver and commented on how good-looking he was (they actually said he was good “para procrear,” “to procreate”). Our cab driver then turns to them and says that the other cab driver is his brother, which made the whole situation a lot more uncomfortable for the girls, and a lot funnier for me. Our cab driver slowed down to let his brother catch up with us, and shouted to him across the cab that the girls were interested in him. I experienced an authentically Cuban situation.

Tuesday wasn’t very productive. Most of the musicologists and music institutions were busy with an academic conference in relation with Cuba Disco (the recording awards). There was a report on the evening television news on the musicological conference, surprising for someone coming for the U.S., where musicological events do not receive any major national press coverage. I attended a panel of the Cuba Disco conference, where they paid homage to a guitarist known for her pedagogical work, Clarita Nicola. After receiving a prize she thanked everyone, including Fidel Castro and the Revolution, because it supported the formalized teaching of guitar in schools, and to train music teachers.

I spent Wednesday at the Museo Nacional de la Música, where I looked at binders and binders full of newspaper clippings, letters and other documents, all organized by composer. I was only able to photograph the contents of two of the binders on Wednesday, and I will have to return to look at the rest in the next few days. I also met Roberto Nunez, who knows the archives inside out. Roberto informed me that there are more extensive and individual collections for some of the composers I’m focusing on, so I’ll return to the Museo in the next weeks to look at these collections more carefully. I have already found some interesting correspondence in Edgardo Martin’s binder, especially letters between him and Guillermo Espinosa, which reveal Martin’s position in regards to the OAS, and Espinosa’s insistence in getting catalogues of Cuban composers’ works.


I attended a lecture by Prof. Danilo Orozco on Thursday morning. He talked about the participation of Cuban musicians in the 1989 Smithsonian Folkways Festival. He recently travelled to Washington D.C. to visit family and also the Smithsonian Institutions. He also focused on the long history of exchanges between the Cuba and U.S. Afterwards I went to the Museo Nacional de la Música to continue going through their materials. When I came home that evening Prisca prepared lobster in a tomato, onions, peppers and garlic sauce, as an early birthday dinner.

On Friday I went to the Museum in the morning, and then met composer Seigrid Macías at the Electronic Music Laboratory in the afternoon. The Laboratory is located in Vedado, and holds most of the music and materials from Juan Blanco’s career, and the director is one of Juan’s sons, Emanuel. They were busy trying to figure out what to do in case of rain, since they were holding an outdoor electronic music concert in the evening. I was still able to get some information, and I will be returning later to get more materials. I returned to the house, and after dinner Prsica gave me a slice of flan that she had made for my birthday.

I really miss my family and friends, especially for my birthday. I was able to talk to my husband through gmail video chat, but the prepaid wifi card timed out, so I had to buy another one to get back online and finish doing what I needed to do.

As I keep talking to musicologists and composers I get more names of people to talk to and archives to visit. It’s great how helpful everyone has been, and I hope that I can get everything I need in the next month and a half.

Posted by: Marysol | May 19, 2012


This was a very productive week. I visited the Centro de Investigacion y Desarrollo de la Musica Cubana (CIDMUC), the Writers and Artists Union (UNEAC), and Casa de las Americas on Monday. It was nice to be able to come in and say hi to all the librarians and musicologists I had met last year, and they were all very enthusiastic about my second visit. On Tuesday I visited the Instituto Superior de Arte, where I went to an undergrad thesis defense on the Grupo de Renovacion Musical (1940s). It was great to hear a Cuban musicologist present on a topic I had been doing research. Some of the composers of the GMR later became the professors and supporters of new music after the 1959 Revolution, so the thesis presents much of the background information I need to provide the background for composition in Cuba after 1959. I had met Jose Luis (the student who defended) during last year’s trip to Cuba, and he ws very happy to see me at his defense. After he passed his defense with the highest marks, his family offered lunch to all who attended. Among the people there was the librarian of ISA, with whom I have been in touch since last year’s trip, and with whom I established a more personal relationship. It was opportune that I saw her this week, since she is leaving for three months at the end of May to visit her son in Spain. Almost everyone I have met has a family member or a close friend living in Spain, since it is relatively easy for Cubans to get a visa or residency in Spain, especially if they have parents or grandparents of Spanish origin. After the defense, I went to the office of International Relations to give them all my documents so they can process my academic visa. Because of their regulations I opted to stay only until July 11, so I will be returning home earlier than anticipated. I’m only losing about two weeks of research, but after talking to several librarians and musicologists, it seems like two months should be enough time for me to collect all the materials I need.

I spent Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at the library of the CIDMUC photographing books and thesis relevant to my research topic. The librarian, Tamara, makes and sells lunches to the people working at the CDIMUC for a very low price (1CUC), and they are very substantial, healthy, and delicious. They are definitely an improvement over the bocaditos on which I was surviving last year and earlier in the week. Tamar loves to cook, and every day she tells me how she made all the different items she brings in the fiambrera, which included a green bean salad, croquetas, stewed garbanzos, and, of course, rice. I think this year instead of losing weight, like last year, I may gain a few pounds. When I got to the CIDMUC on Thursday I talked to one of their musicologists, Ailer, for a while. She recently finished her thesis on the Contemporary Music Festivals that took place in Cuba during the 1980s and 1990s, and she is very familiar with the music and composers I’m investigating for my dissertation. She suggested several other archives to visit, and she is going to set up a time for me to go interview Alfredo Diez Nieto, who is in his 90s and is one of the few living composers from the generation of the Grupo de Renovacion Musical (although he did not belong to that group).

This next week is going to be less productive because most musicologists and music centers will be busy with Cuba Disco, which is the equivalent of the Grammy’s for Cuba, except that musicologists are a lot more involved in Cuba Disco. Prisca, a musicologist and the owner of the house where I am staying, works at Cuba Disco, and tells me that there will be a series of conferences and scholarly events during the whole week which are connected to Cuba Disco. Musicologists seem to be a lot more involved in the music industry (including popular music) than in the U.S. Among the events featured will be a conference by musicologist Danilo Orozco, who spent a few months in Washington, D.C. this last year and has written a great deal about popular music exchanges and influences between the U.S. and Cuba. I met him last year, and I hope to get together with him over the next month or so to pick his brain in regards to my dissertation, so I will be going to his conference this next week.

It has been a lot easier getting used the different life style and pace of life this year when compared to last year. After going to through it once, I already knew what to expect, like the power going out without notice, or having to bring toilet paper with me everywhere, or not knowing when I’ll be able to check my email next. I do miss having someone like Annia (the Polish student from Manchester, who was here when I visited Cuba last year). But there have been a few things that remind me of home, like the occasional episode of a U.S. sit-com or tv drama, like The Big Bang Theory and Private Practice. And I can’t complain about the food, which is just like my grandmothers’ (lots of onions, peppers, garlic, rice and beans, yum). Prisca and I also end up talking for hours after dinner, mostly about musicology, but about life in general too. It helps that her husband and son are percussionists, which makes me feel right at home.

The national baseball playoffs are in full swing. Two nights ago the team from Havana, Los Industriales, beat the team from Matanzas, Los Cocodrilos, wining the champoinship of the Western Division. The finals are this next week, and the Industriales will be facing the champions of the Eastern Division. As most of you may know, people here breath, live and eat baseball. When there is a game on tv, the entire city goes quite, and you here the occasional city-wide cheers when a player from the Industriales hits a “honron.” It reminds me of my grandfather, who is ALWAYS watching “besibol.” It is a very different experience from watching a MLB game, a lot lauder and more intense. When I walk to the archives in the morning I can hear men, women and children discussing the previous night’s game, and even arguing about how the manager should have handled certain situations.

This morning I got to the hotel Melia Coiba, which is a 30 minute walk from the house, at 9am to use the wifi and try to video chat with David through gmail, and IT WORKED! Yes, it froze and got a little choppy from time to time, but I was able to talk to him for 20 minutes! Last time we tried skype, but it didn’t work, and so he called me at the house three times throughout the entire month using skype credits, which cost a little more than a dollar per minute to call Cuba, and get a little pricey. Although I have to pay for the wifi at the Hotel, it is definitely cheaper than the skype calls, and I can even see his face! This is going to make it a lot easier to get through the two months I will be here, and I know it will make it easier for him too.

Posted by: Marysol | May 14, 2012

Waiting for a VIP


I arrived last night after a long day of travel. Left Bloomington at 3am to catch the 5:10am flight from Indy to Charlotte, then from Charlotte, NC, to Miami, where I picked up my luggage to check in at the Skyking airline counter at 10:30am, four hours prior to the scheduled departure time of 2:30. After an hour in line, and paying $67 in excess luggage, I was informed that the flight was delayed until 5pm. Great! I get to spend three more hours at the airport while on one hour sleep. I tried to rest by laying down on some chairs, but the chatter of other restless passengers and the playful cries of toddlers running around the terminal kept me up. So I found a sunny spot by a window facing the place on the tarmac where our plane was to pull in. We waited and waited, 5pm came and no sign of our plane, and of course no word as to the status of the flight from the Skyking crew. There were two large groups of U.S. passengers that were traveling as part of a tour. One was organized by the Smithsonian Institute, which has just started doing arts and culture tours to Cuba. It seems that the new U.S. travel regulations to Cuba allow for cultural institutions to organize short educational trips to the island. (This is a tip for those of you who have been asking my how to travel to Cuba without an academic visa, find a cultural organization that is planning tours to Cuba.)

The departure time for our flight changed from 4pm to 5pm to 5:30pm on the gate monitor. In my sleep deprived condition I could not muster one ounce of energy towards fury or anger at the airline, which other passengers clearly had no problem finding.  At times I stared out the airport window, seeing planes land, yet not thinking anything at all, reaching a zombie-eske state. The plane finally arrived around 5:40, the crew took about an hour to clear and clean the plane, and we didn’t take off until 6:45. The flight itself took less than 45 minutes, which was barely enough for the flight attendants to do one drink service. Once we landed we had to wait in the plane for 30 minutes, because we couldn’t approach the terminal until a VIP plane took off. After the first announcement from the pilot a flight attendant let us know that the VIP was Hugo Chavez. Now I can say I have been on the same tarmac as Hugo Chavez. After we were finally got to the terminal we were herded, like cattle, well more like sheep, into the airport to go through immigration. I struck a conversation with a married couple waiting in line behind me. They were part of the Smithsonian tour, and as we talked I found they were from Louisville, and the husband had been involved in the negotiations of the Louisville Orchestra strike not so long ago. They are both very interested on culture, especially in the northern Kentucky area, and they have even heard the Owensboro Symphony, where my husband plays. Small world! Once we passed immigration we proceeded to pick up our luggage, not an easy task when the entire luggage claim area floor is covered with massive shrink-wrapped bags and suitcases. Since I did not shrink wrap my suitcases they were easy to find, but after seeing the ware on the outside I may opt for the shrink wrap next time. Waiting for bags to come through the belt took about one hour. I made my way through customs, exchanged some cash, and hailed a cab driver. I finally arrived at Prisca’s house at 10:30pm, only 19 and a half hours after leaving Bloomington. Luckily, Prisca had fried chicken and sweet potatoes waiting for me; I took a shower, went to bed, and didn’t wake up until 11am the next morning. This must have been one of the longest days of my life.


Today I called all the cultural institutions and archives where I’ll be conducting research. I made appointments with the librarians of the institutions located in Vedado, and with the National Museum of Music. It’s bee one hot day, and I’m looking forward to taking a shower after walking all over Vedado in the hot and humid climate. Tomorrow I’ll be going to the Instituto Superior de Arte, to get my academic visa and to catch a master thesis defense on the Grupo Renovacion Musical, which is related to my research topic. I’m missing my husband and my dog the most, since I haven’t gotten to talk to him since last Friday. I hope he can call the house I’m staying at soon, or that at least we can chat a little bit in the next few days.

Posted by: Marysol | May 11, 2012

Buscando guayaba…

…ando yo! It’s almost time. Tomorrow, err, today, I’ll be flying from Indy to Charlotte, from Charlotte to Miami, and from Miami to Havana. There is no telling exactly when my next blog post will be, since internet connections in Cuba are not easy to find, but rest assured I’ll do everything in my power to post within the next couple of days. Everything is packed, and the husband is patiently waiting until it’s about 2:30am to drive me to the airport to catch the 5:10am flight to Charlotte, NC. Sadly he cannot accompany me for this trip, and being the drum nut that he is, he is not very happy about missing out on going to Cuba for a second time. It doesn’t help that I’ll be staying in a house with percussionists, but maybe I’ll get him a nice chekere for a souvenir.

Next time I post I’ll be sending saludos desde Cuba!

Posted by: Marysol | April 23, 2012

Up-coming research trip

I am currently planning my next research trip to Cuba. I’ll be leaving on May 11, and returning on July 31. During my almost-three-month long trip I’ll be conducting research in the archives of several cultural institutions, and I’ll be interviewing several Cuban composers and musicologists. This trip is funded by the Latin American Fellowship from IU’s Office of the Vice-President of International Affairs, and by IU’s musicology department’s A.P. Brown fund. I am very lucky to be at an institution that supports my research, and I can’t wait to report my findings next year at a musicology department colloquium or some other form of academic dialogue.

Please stay tuned, and I welcome any comments or suggestions on planning an extended research trip outside of the U.S.

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