While Cuba might have been on the minds of many at last night’s Lincoln Center Fall Gala, it wasn’t due to the smashed plantains in the bread basket nor the island decor by party planner extraordinaire, Bronson van Wyck. Instead, the evening acted as somewhat of a homecoming for a delegation of musicians who traveled to Cuba last April at the behest of President Obama. Now that the doors are open for Americans to visit, there’s the opportunity for some cultural exchange, which was showcased masterfully by violinist Joshua Bell.
Following dinner, Bell hosted an evening concert inside Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall where he brought out an eclectic rotation of guests, all of whom he had crossed paths with during his time in the newly accessible country. Some local musicians hailed from Cuba, including the Chamber Orchestra of Havana who were also celebrating their first ever visit to New York, while others were recognizable names, none more so than Dave Matthews, who played a set of four songs to close out the evening that raised $3.1 million in total.
“We had a nice time together,” Matthews recalled of his trip to Havana as Ambassador José Ramón Cabañas Rodriguez of Cuba, and a slew of members from Lincoln Center’s informal first family, The Tischs, sat in the audience including the evening’s honoree, Laurie M. Tisch. “We drank a lot of rum, and smoked a lot of Cubans before they were easier to get here. We never played that song together or the next one we’re going to do, but I think it sort of echoes what’s wrong with the world. Maybe, what could be right is realizing what we have in common, and to embrace all of our amazing differences.”