Experiencing Havana's Music: A Cultural-Historical Immersion

Yosvany Terry Quintet, Fábrica de Arte Cubano, on stage performing at the Jazz Plaza 2018.

Yosvany Terry Quintet, Fábrica de Arte Cubano, Jazz Plaza 2018.
L to R: Yunior Terry, Obed Calvaire, Mike Rodríguez, Yosvany Terry, Osmany Paredes.

Centered squarely on Cuban music, this unique course is simultaneously a history and geography class and an intensive experiential opportunity. Students can expect to read, write, and discuss, but also to move through Havana—walking the streets, visiting music venues, listening to new sounds, learning the rudiments of Cuban dance, studying the dynamics of festivity, and exploring the city first-hand while making discoveries about Cuba’s splendid musical culture.

Curriculum

Experiencing Havana's Music: A Cultural-Historical Immersion

IREMU-UT 1819.001 | 4 units | Instructor: Ned Sublette

Taught by New York-based scholar Ned Sublette, author of Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo, in collaboration with Havana-based Latin Grammy-winning music producer Caridad Diez, the class will revolve around Havana’s famed Jazz Plaza music festival; students will attend the festival for six consecutive nights, along with other events.

Students should expect an intense but rewarding schedule of events. Free time will be in the mornings, with afternoons taken up by classes and most nights by performances. While Jazz Plaza is the world’s premier festival for Cuban jazz, musicians from many different countries come to perform, with a significant US participation. Nor is jazz the only musical offering: the festival’s citywide roster of simultaneous programs includes a variety of Cuban musical styles, both traditional and contemporary.

Class discourse will unfold through daily lectures and discussions incorporating elements of a wide range of disciplines to offer the student the chance to shape his or her personal vision of the culture of the grand 500-year-old city of Havana. Class sessions will feature visits from distinguished musical guests as well as dance lessons, as music and dance in Cuban culture are often intricately connected.

The intellectual approach will be Postmamboist, i.e., taking music as the center of understanding and using music to interrogate other disciplines. Knowledge of Spanish is not required, nor is prior study of music required, although either of those will enhance the student’s experience considerably.

Program Dates

January 2020 

  • Student Arrival: Sunday, January 12, 2020
  • Student Departure: Saturday, January 25, 2019

Arrival and departure dates are subject to change.

Admissions

The January 2020 application will open on Friday, August 30, 2019.

Please read the following admissions information before starting your application.  

Two men looking out over the water onto the skyline of Havana.

Photo by Ned Sublette

Expenses

  • Undergraduate Tuition and Registration and Services Fee: $6,500

Additional Fees Include:

  • Program Fee (includes housing): $711
  • Airfare: Approximately $750 (Required group flight to/from Havana from New York)
    Tickets from group flight are non-refundable and non-transferable.
  • Geo Blue Global Health Insurance: $29.10

Please review the Tisch Special Programs cancellation policy.

Visit the NYU Office of the Bursar for additional information on tuition and fees.

Dancer representing the Abakuá íreme, Güiros de San Cristóbal, Regla.

Dancer representing the Abakuá íreme, Güiros de San Cristóbal, Regla
Photo by Ned Sublette

Housing

You will be housed in the Vedado district of Havana in home-stays (casas particulares). Students are provided with breakfast and dinner at their casas.

  • Double bedroom
  • Breakfast and dinner included in program costs
  • Limited laundry facilities on-site
  • No internet available in residence, but will be available nearby at additional cost
  • Rooms furnished with linens and towels
  • No overnight guests allowed
Havana skyline at sunset.

Photo by Ned Sublette