Greenwich High School Band Planning Trip to Cuba

A different kind of spring break for student musicians.


This spring, Greenwich High School Band students will get a rare opportunity to serve as musical ambassadors in Cuba, a communist island nation which has been under a United States economic embargo for 50 years.

In a letter sent to GHS Band parents and students Wednesday, Headmaster Chris Winters announced the trip.

"I am very excited about the possibility for our band to travel to Cuba this April. With its rich musical history, Cuba offers a fascinating destination for our students," Winters said in the letter. (Please see attached PDF.)

"The final itinerary will be developed over the next several months. Activities will include GHS Band performances at Cuban schools, attending peer and professional level performances, master classes, cultural and historical tours, and a humanitarian project," according to a FAQ sent to parents. (Please see attached PDF.)

Winters explains in the letter that if there are "any travel warnings from the State Department" even "if up to the day of departure," then the trip will not proceed.

According to the U.S. Department of State, "travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens and permanent residents is restricted by U.S. law and regulations, and travelers generally must obtain a license or qualify for an existing license from the Department of Treasury," which "restrict the activities and transactions in which U.S. citizens and residents may engage while in Cuba."

Further, per the State Department," The United States Government, which does not maintain full diplomatic relations with Cuba, is represented by the U.S. Interests Section (USINT) in Havana, which provides a range of consular and other services."

The same departure policy was implemented for the was last overseas trip the GHS Band embarked on in April 2010 when more than 200 band students, faculty and chaperones traveled to Greece for a 12-plus day educational experience. The students performed 8 times during the trip including a once in a lifetime opportunity to perform in the world renowned ancient amphitheater of Epidarus.

As in any trip whether abroad or states side, the unknown is difficult to plan for. During the Greece trip, a volcanic ash eruption in Iceland shut down air travel, delaying the group's return to Greenwich.

The two years prior, 2008 and 2009, provided trips closer to home on the East Coast, visiting Washington D.C. and Virginia Beach. Other foreign trips for band students included a 2007 13-day trip to China for about 200 GHS Band students and 20+ chaperones and a 2001 trip to London, England.

Cort Wrotnowski September 20, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Cuba is a poor choice first, a questionable choice, second. Of the 165 some countries in the world, why Cuba? Brazil is a better choice. Musically, it has a richer tradition. Cuba is a musical backwater. Who performs out of Cuba? What Cuban composers are there? There are far better examples of Afro-Caribbean music in Trinidad and other islands. Jamaica's Reggae style has had greater impact on American music than anything out of Cuba. Salsa from Puerto Rico? It's a standard. Cuba's music stopped growing in the 1950s. Many popular dances came from Cuba, like the Cha-cha-cha. Since then? Nothing. Yes, that's right, thanks to the communist government there. So, if Cuba is a poor choice musically, why choose it at all? That leads to the questionable choice. The mention of a "humanitarian project" means a link with the communist government there. Such a project is supposed to somehow rise above political differences, when in fact all it does is lend support to a system of oppression of which too few people are aware or even bother to care about. Moreover, the comparison with Greece is highly instructive. What great innovations of civilization have emerged from Cuba? Where are the philosophers, the creation of democracy, timeless art, architecture? No, instead, it's jalopies, unpainted buildings, and children owned by the state. OK, great, so the kids get to see the birthplace of civilization and the death of civilization. Enjoy the trip, kids.
Steve Brule September 20, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Obviously you're just mad that your child didn't get to go to greece from the way you wrote that. You're making baseless assumptions and saying that cuba has NO musical/artistic impact on the modern world? Cuba has probably the BIGGEST influence in modern and contemporary music we listen to today. Also, comparing the greek architecture to the cuban music is complete and utter bullshit. you don't say that greece was a better trip because of the architecture and modern innovations that originated there. This isn't a trip for an engineering class, it's a trip for band. also, try not to be such a boner. thanks, Dr. Steve Brule
Cort Wrotnowski September 24, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Dear Comrade Brule, Sorry to see you feel so insulted about your beloved Communist paradise. Typical pinhead. Cuba's musical influence has come and gone. They are musical retreads today. I stand by what I wrote. What Cuba contributed before 1960 is mind-blowing. Just look at the Wikipedia entry, comrade. After 1960, as good as nothing. Obviously they still play music and lots of rich, wonderful music. But the difference is more than striking. Not "NO" impact, but it might as well be. So, loud mouth, where are the Cuban hits in America? Find one beloved Cuban, not Cuban-American, performer outside of Cuba. One. The Wikipedia entry has pages and pages about all sorts of musical innovations from Cuba - all before 1960. The so-called modern musical scene in Cuba gets maybe 2-3 paragraphs. That's a clue. As for the notion that I am making a baseless assumption, well, I guess Wikipedia is too. They did the research, and that's all they find. This is not a baseless assumption, consider the youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PTcLHAGpBU&feature=related Check the other youtube videos you will see lots of history and very little that is truly contemporary. Moreover, 50,000 hits roughly, is a drop in the bucket for music videos. Take the clue, there is no music scene in Cuba to write home about. So, instead, this becomes your liberal wet dream to make kids think Cuba isn't all that bad. What a lie. My point about Brazil, also stands.
Steve Brule September 24, 2012 at 08:53 PM
clearly you haven't stopped being a boner.
Moses Garza III September 25, 2012 at 11:02 PM
No way my child will be going to a COMMUNIST country. If I send my child to a communist country he will instantly change all his views to positive ones about communism and I can't have him having a different opinion than me. If he's in Cuba, he'll meet the citizens who so clearly are fans of their government and have nothing but good things to say about what communism has done for them. Additionally, there are so many other countries out there that have better music than aren't communist. My opinion trumps everyone else's opinion on music because I listen to music a lot and thus practically have a PhD in music. "What Makes You Beautiful" by One Direction (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJO3ROT-A4E) has 200 million views which automatically means it is the best song in the world, and they are from London. London is not a communist country so we should go there (but not Scotland because people there are all drunk cyclopses who toss around their little bombs all day). Also since Wikipedia is the most valid source in the world I remember one time seeing that Wikipedia said Nickelback was communist (it got edited back though, probably by damn Liberals). Nickelback? Communists? This means by association (because of my PhD in Logical Comment Posting) communists suck at music. SOURCE: Wikipedia because I spent all day looking for evidence to support my unchangeable opinion (which I formed before I did research) on why Cuba would be a bad band trip.


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