Latino String Quartet has no problem this time
Posted in the The String Quartet Forum
#1 Jan 16, 2008
CUBAN MUSICIANS ARRIVE ON TIME!
Third time’s the charm as the José White String Quartet arrives
for its first complete, and uncurtailed, American tour
MIAMI, Jan. 12, 2008 — The arrival of four classical Latino musicians in Miami on Saturday to begin their 21-concert tour of the USA would ordinarily not be especially newsworthy. However, this is the third time a tour was arranged for the José White String Quartet, based in Aguascalientes, Mexico, half of whose members were born in Cuba, still considered a “terrorist nation” by the Bush administration.
The last time the Quartet was set to perform in the USA, in 2004, the musicians’ temporary visas were delayed by the State Department for a number of frustrating weeks, even though they had been approved by the Department of Homeland Security months before. Rather than submit the Cuban-born musicians’ names for the special security clearance required post 9/11, their application sat on an administrator’s desk at the American Consulate in Guadalajara; when they were finally approved and given their visas, they had already missed thirteen of their twenty scheduled American appearances, which were either canceled or filled by various last-minute replacement ensembles.
No such delays were encountered this time, thanks in part to the changes in USCIS regulations which allowed the Quartet’s American management to apply for their P-1 visa classification a year ahead of time, rather than the previous 6 month limit. When they were granted the security clearance in late October and received their passports back with their visas, relief was expressed from Florida to Ohio, where the current four-week tour will take the Quartet.
For their 2004 debut in Cleveland then they were praised by the Plain Dealer for their “world-class artistry ... Their collective energy set the magnificent music ablaze. Their well-balanced sonorities bloomed with richness and depth.... Their rhythmic intensity was exhilarating, their emotional involvement electrifying.”
As if the 2004 mostly-canceled tour were not enough of a disaster, the Quartet’s first American tour, which had originally been scheduled for January, 2002, had to be completely canceled at the very last minute when just a few days before the ensemble’s scheduled arrival in the U.S., Orlando Espinosa, the group’s cellist, came down with a severe case of chicken pox, which can be quite dangerous in an adult. Those opening concerts had to be canceled and a substitute ensemble was found to fulfill the rest of those engagements.
The José White Quartet’s 9-state tour is highlighted by its first appearance at Spivey Hall in Atlanta on February 2nd, performing Brahms’ Piano Quintet in F minor with pianist Michiko Otaki. Other works being played on the tour are masterworks of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Ravel and Shostakovich, as well as Latino pieces by composers including Silvestre Revueltas, Astor Piazzolla, and the eponymous José White himself.
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