A Farewell to Remember

July 15, 2016

CIMG1773This whole trip has been absolutely amazing, but this day in particular was very special to me and I’m sure for everyone else.

It started off with us visiting the house Ernest Hemingway lived in while he was in Cuba. In his home, we found many unique treasures. There were hundreds of books available to read in every room. On the balcony there was a breathtaking view along with a telescope to examine it all. What really fascinated me was the number of animal heads mounted on the walls. I had learned from our tour guide that he was a hunter, but I had no idea that he would have so many trophies. From Deer to Bulls to Bears, there were at least a dozen of them. I was both intrigued and frightened.

IMG_5472After visiting Ernest Hemingway’s old home, we got to rehearse in a beautiful recital hall in Havana’s National Theater. We spent a couple  of hours rehearsing with a Cuban choir and several Cuban musicians from a different youth orchestra. And this time we had air conditioning, so it didn’t look like I had just taken a shower before I started playing.

We got to spend the evening at a beautiful five star restaurant for our farewell dinner. We kicked it off with a bunch of youth orchestra members(including myself) and some chaperones putting on a surprise goodbye song. We performed our own arrangement of Guantanamera which included improvised solos on the Viola, Trumpet, Violin, and Clarinet. After our performance, we got to sit down at our tables and enjoy our meals while watching live performances of extravagant dancers and soulful singers. I sat next to one of our supporters who told us all kinds of stories about the places he’s traveled to around the world. It was very interesting getting to know one of the people who helped us get this far.

After we finished our meals we began to acknowledge everyone that made this trip a reality. We appreciated everyone, from our generous and understanding supporters to our kind and hardworking chaperones. Most importantly, we acknowledged our outstanding manager, Tiffany Bayly, for the unbelievable amount of work she put into this tour. We all gave her a standing ovation to honor the countless hours she spent on her feet for us. Then lastly, our incredible conductor, Omid Zoufonoun, gave a very heartwarming speech about how much everything and everyone meant to him. I don’t think the evening could have been more perfect.

Everything that needed to be said was said tonight. We gave all of our appreciations, said all of our goodbyes, and cried all of our tears. Everything that’s happened during this tour so far has been so amazing and emotional, I didn’t know how I could ever leave. But thanks to everything that’s happened tonight, I now know, I can leave this country, and this orchestra, feeling complete.

~ Cassidy Hall

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