Cuban musicians wrap up Canadian tour in Stittsville this Friday

Cuban musicians Omar Sicilia and Julio Caesar at a school workshop during their Canadian tour.
Cuban musicians Omar Sicilia and Julio Caesar at a school workshop during their Canadian tour.

Members of the Cuban musical group Kereya will be back at Gaia Java on Friday, October 3.  It’s the last stop of their Canadian tour.

The group started their tour at Gaia Java as well.  They arrived from Cuba at the beginning of August to share their music with Canadians and learn about Canadian music and customs.

Omar Sicilia, Julio Caesar and Virginia Alphonso are part of Kereya,the house band at Covarrubius Resort in Porto Padre, Cuba. With its amazing beaches and warm hospitality, this resort is a popular destination with cold Canadians during our sometimes endless winters.

Their tour has taken them to several communities in Ontario and Quebec.  I’ve been hosting the musicians and co-ordinating their tour.  A strong component of the tour has involved sharing the culture of Cuba with Canadian students.

It has been a significant eye-opener for the Canadian students to hear first hand from the musicians about the lifestyle and challenges of living in Cuba at this time. While many students had travelled to the resort areas of Cuba, very few have seen the everyday living conditions or are aware of the life challenges faced in other parts of the world. This opportunity to share a world view face to face with someone living the reality is a remarkable educational moment.


Montreal was the next stop on the tour with performances and workshops at two elementary schools. This time it was the elementary students who enjoyed hearing the Cuban music, but more importantly having the chance to play some Cuban percussion instruments.

In Montreal, the musicians had a rare opportunity to have a guided tour of not one but two of the Godin Guitars factory. Factory tours are not available to the public but Patrick Godin took a full day out of his schedule to personally guide the musicians through the factories.

The Godin company has five factories in Quebec and one in New Hampshire where they produce some of the finest and most popular guitars in the world today. The world-wide guitar manufacturing community itself has awarded the Godin brand with top honours while recognizing the company’s outstanding contributions to the guitar industry.

In addition to being enthralled with the beautiful guitars, Virginia Alphonso, the group’s Cuban manager, was thrilled with the tour for another reason: Virginia is a university trained engineer and being able to witness first-hand the manufacturing process and unique machinery designed exclusively for Godin was a real treat.

Kereya will be heading home to warmer weather shortly. Before they leave they will be visiting a few more Ottawa area schools for more performances and workshops. Your last opportunity to hear them live will be at Gaia Java on Friday, October 3. Don’t miss this rare cultural opportunity happening right here in Stittsville.

(Writer Bob Denney is a retired school teacher and is co-ordinating Kereya’s Canadian tour.)


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