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St. Olaf Jazz to tour Cuba

St. Olaf Jazz, conducted by Dave Hagedorn (far right), will tour Cuba March 20-25.

St. Olaf College has received an invitation from the Cuban Ministry of Culture for its St. Olaf Jazz ensemble to perform a series of concerts in Havana this spring.

Led by St. Olaf music faculty member Dave Hagedorn, the nationally recognized ensemble will tour Cuba March 20–25.

Along with performing several concerts, the band’s 21 undergraduate musicians will have the chance to work with Cuban jazz artists and play alongside local ensembles. A patron group will accompany the jazz ensemble, joining the student musicians on historical and cultural tours and enjoying the band’s performances.

“The opportunity to perform in a country that has played such a significant role in the development of jazz, and to absorb the culture there, is incredibly exciting,” Hagedorn says. “This will be a great experience for our student musicians.”

The St. Olaf Jazz Program is home to three bands, each of which offers outstanding performance opportunities to students of any major. St. Olaf Jazz I was voted the “Best Undergraduate College or University Big Band” by DownBeat magazine in May 2011.

The jazz ensemble will be the first St. Olaf music group to perform in Cuba.

“This is a historic moment between the two countries, and a fitting time for St. Olaf’s premier jazz ensemble to participate in this type of cultural exchange,” says St. Olaf President David R. Anderson ’74. “It’s also an important recognition of the quality of the St. Olaf Jazz Program and our student musicians.”

Arrangements for the tour will be managed by Classical Movements, the same company that organized the Minnesota Orchestra’s historic tour to Cuba this past May. A leading concert tour company to Cuba, Classical Movements has arranged musical tours to the island nation for 19 years.

“When we approached the Cuban government about bringing the St. Olaf Jazz band to Cuba on tour, they were very keen as they understood the great role of music at the college and the very high standards of musicianship at St. Olaf,” says Classical Movements President Neeta Helms.

St. Olaf will also offer a study travel program to Cuba May 30-June 7 for alumni and friends of the college, led by Associate Professor of History and Latin American Studies Jeane DeLaney and Professor of Spanish Gwen Barnes-Karol.

About the conductor
Hailed as one of Minnesota’s top jazz musicians, Hagedorn has led the St. Olaf Jazz Program for nearly two decades. In addition to his work with the jazz ensembles, he teaches percussion, jazz studies, and world music at St. Olaf.


He earned a D.M.A. in percussion performance from the Eastman School of Music, where his principal teacher was John Beck. He also holds an M.M. in percussion performance from the New England Conservatory, where he studied with Vic Firth of the Boston Symphony, and a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Minnesota, where he studied with Marv Dahlgren and Paula Culp of the Minnesota Orchestra.

Hagedorn released a jazz album, SolidLiquid, on the Artegra label in 2003, and another album, Horizon, with pianist Dan Cavanagh ’01, in 2010. He is featured on an album released in April 2014, Chris Bates Good Vibes Trio, that also includes St. Olaf colleague Phil Hey on drums.

Hagedorn has recorded with the George Russell Living Time Orchestra on Blue Note Recordings, jazz singer Debbie Duncan on Igmod Recordings, and also with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO) on Teldec Recordings. He regularly performs in the Twin Cities with groups such as the SPCO, Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota Opera, VocalEssence, Pete Whitman’s Xtet, and the Phil Hey Quartet.