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Classical 101

The Return of Musica Cubana

black and white photo of Orlay Alonso
Orlay Alonso

Musica Cubana returns to Classical 101, Sundays in March at 1 p.m. The first broadcast is this Sunday, March 5.

The four-part series of one-hour programs is curated and co-hosted by local pianist Orlay Alonso. We received great responses from its initial run last fall. During the four Sundays in March, Alonso will present the sounds and rhythms of Cuban music on Classical 101.

I first encountered Alonso on a recording. The School of Music at Ohio State University sent over a stack of CDs of recent on-campus performance recordings. I whittled through a few of them, usually enjoying what I was hearing. The next in the pile was a program featuring favorites of mine, Schubert's Four Impromptus for Piano.

I began half-listening, then three-quarters, and before I knew it, I was absorbed, tickled and enthralled. I called Rick Blatti, then the director of the School of Music, who told me about who I was hearing: Alonso, a recent doctoral student at Ohio State.

Alonso was born in Cuba and raised in the States. He's a graduate of Juilliard and Yale (did good, huh?), and he completed his doctorate at OSU. Lucky for us, he still lives in the area, playing concerts and teaching at Capital University.

I'm trying to keep him a secret, so listen to the show but don't tell anyone. I don't want him lured away to Paris, Milan or New York (he's played in all three cities).

On second thought, do tell your friends. Alonso has a wonderful talent, and is a terrific raconteur on matters musical.

Before Musica Cubana, I knew nothing about Cuban music. But it seemed obvious I was missing a world of color and excitement, and this young guy from Cuba was the one to teach me. And you.

Rock on, dance on, tap along and enjoy the delights of Musica Cubana with Alonso, Sundays in March at 1 p.m. on Classical 101 and online.

The initial run broke the website. No kidding.

Christopher Purdy is Classical 101's early morning host, 7-10 a.m. weekdays. He is host and producer of Front Row Center – Classical 101’s weekly celebration of Opera and more – as well as Music in Mid-Ohio, Concerts at Ohio State, and the Columbus Symphony broadcast series. He is the regular pre-concert speaker for Columbus Symphony performances in the Ohio Theater.