Musician brothers Aldo López-Gavilán and Ilmar Gavilán grew up together as young prodigies in Havana in the 1970s.
At 14, Ilmar was sent to the former Soviet Union to continue his violin studies; as an adult, he eventually settled in New York, where he founded the Grammy-winning Harlem Quartet. Younger brother Aldo remained in Cuba after training in London, and was mentored by the island’s revered jazz and classical piano masters, his significant talent achieving renown internationally but eluding wider recognition in the States due to the 60-year-old US embargo on Cuba.
Reunited (and the subject of a 2020 documentary film, Los Hermanos), the brothers form a duo like no other, defined by a sweetly delicate lyricism one moment, and an infectious rhythmic energy the next. They play compositions by Aldo, recorded on their duo release Hermanos, that weave together dreamy chamber sonorities with Afro-Cuban jazz and folk forms. “[López-Gavilán is] a terrific composer, with range, imagination and technique…[his] superb pianism rock[ed] the house as well” (The Washington Post).
An Illuminations: “Place and Displacement” event.
Beyond the Stage:
In LOS HERMANOS/THE BROTHERS, virtuoso Afro-Cuban-born brothers—violinist Ilmar and pianist Aldo—live on opposite sides of a geopolitical chasm a half-century wide. Tracking their parallel lives in New York and Havana, their poignant reunion, and their momentous first performances together, this documentary offers a nuanced, often startling view of estranged nations through the lens of music and family.
This free stream is available January 16–30 and offered as part of Cal Performances’ Illuminations programming to both provide deeper context for the brothers’ Cal Performances concert, and to propose another lens through which to view and understand the 2021-22 Illuminations theme of “Place and Displacement.”
Tickets are free for this stream, but registration is required.