A few days ago this the 2018 CuE orchestra project ended with a final concert at the Ruhrtriennale after two weeks of rehearsal. Even the preparatory phrase proved exciting. We received more than 200 applications from outstanding young musicians all over the world. After a selection process that involved several separate stages and a series of auditions on the island of Cuba and in various towns and cities in Europe we had settled on the orchestral membership of this year’s Cuban-European Youth Academy: seventy-five musicians from fifteen countries from Turkey to the United Kingdom and from Portugal to Armenia and Cuba would come together this summer to rehearse, study and spend time together in a communal setting.

In recent years our Orchestra Projects have revolved around music from the Baroque to Classicism and Romanticism, but this year it was the turn of music from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Works from Cuba and Europe provided living proof of the intercultural exchange that is at the heart of our Cuban-European Youth Academy, including its concert programme.

The world premiere of Jan Müller-Wieland’s Maria offered the young musicians the challenging prospect of preparing a contemporary work in which literature, theatre and music are combined in the closest possible ways. Under the direction of Thomas Hengelbrock the Cuban-European Youth Academy performed the piece with the actress Johanna Wokalek, the baritone André Morsch and the Balthasar Neumann Choir and Soloists. The performance marked the culmination of this year’s Ruhrtriennale. Also on the programme were works by Cuban composers, notably Jenny Peña Campo’s Cuban Dance Suite, which generated such storms of enthusiasm when it was premiered in the summer of 2017 in both Berlin and Wiesbaden.

As always the rehearsals were complemented by a varied programme of events. Not only did the young musicians receive individual tuition from the experienced lecturers of the Balthasar Neumann Academy, but there were courses on historically informed performance practice and early instruments as well as workshops run by Cuban musicians on the subject of Cuban dance, Cuban rhythms, improvisation and the history of Cuban music. And, of course, there was sufficient time to perform chamber music, to play football and simply to enjoy a quiet drink together in the evening.




23 September 2018 Grand Hall of the Essen Zollverein (Ruhrtriennale)




Maria: Eine Vertreibung für Sprecherin, Sprecher, vier Herrensoli, Chor und Orchester (world premiere)


Cuban Dance Suite

Other works to be announced



Johanna Wokalek, speaker
Peter Simonischek, speaker
André Morsch, baritone
Balthasar Neumann Choir and Soloists
Cuban-European Youth Orchestra
Thomas Hengelbrock, conductor


CuE receives no institutional support, with the result that all its projects are financed by project partners and project-specific subsidies from various foundations.

The 2018 Transatlantic Orchestra Project is taking place in cooperation with the Ruhrtriennale and with the kind involvement of the Orchesterzentrum NRW. It is supported and financed by the RAG Foundation, the Foreign Office and Condor.