From Inside Cuba

Distributed By The Cuba Free Press Project

(APIC), Havana, July 19, l997

A Cultured Society: Pro Arte Musical

In the republic of Cuba, prior to 1959, numerous organizations group united various segments of the population. For better or for worse this organization sustained the civil society of Cuba.

Rene Mendez Capote managed to transcend her social position and narrated the suffering of one of ours as follows: "One night Maria Teresa Garcia Montes de Giberga arrived at my home while I was playing ball with my brothers and sisters. Maria told my mother that she wanted to embrace on a new project.

I proposed to initiate an annual concert season in Havana and I will form The Pro Arte organization. We went from house to house to a variety of our wealthy friends proposing our tickets, obliging them to purchase season tickets. Maria Teresa thought of leasing the National Theater, which was then part of the Spanish society. Upon receiving a negative response from the President of the National Theater, Saturnino Ban-os, she leased the Pairet.

When we brought the violinist Nisha Elman, the theater was packed to the limit, it was an all around success. Then Maria Teresa decided to found a special membership class, which consisted of free student admission and a $2 or $3 monthly contribution. (Actual price depended on the locale)

And she continues: "I was the Secretary of Pro Arte for many years. Despite the limitations of its burguessier origin, it has been one of the most important cultural undertakings of Cuba. As a result, the organization built the Auditorium Theater".

"We brought splendid performers and these evening concerts became treasured memories."

And so ended Mendez Capote recollection of the founding of this organization.

Many years later the existence of this organization remains unknown for a considerable number of Cubans.

Some people jealously kept several issues of the Pro Rate Musical Magazine published by the organization. From its yellowed pages, the message of its cultural contributions were reread by many.

From these pages the faces of forgotten performers were rediscovered and previously unknown ones were rediscovered.

Marcova and Tevaldi, the best bands of the times, many foreigners as well as Cubans, also performed on its stage.

These pages illustrate the incessant labor required of this cultural group. An obvious preoccupation is evident in the profound exposition of its topics.

Different scenes of the Opera motivated the directive to publish different work on the opera and the Zarzuela.: "A century of opera of Cuba" by Daisy Losa Carrillo and "La zarzuela " a great Spanish tradition by Antonio Quevedo . "An essay about the Spanish influence in Cuban music" won a prize in l956. "Essay about the music of Esteban Sara" was published in one of the last issues in 1961.

The forced expropriation by the revolutionary government of the Auditorium Theater and nearby buildings occurred on the same year, l961. This was the end of such an important project.


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