Heard in Havana

Heard in Havana

A musical delegation
Spencer Topel
Kati Agocs
Ingrid Arauco
Christopher Wendell Jones
Kai-Young Chan
Jeremy Gill
Amadeus Regucera
Michael Harrison
Cindy Cox
Jennifer Higdon
Third Sound
Sooyun Kim
Romie de Guise-Langlois
Karen Kim
Michael Nicolas
Orion Weiss
Patrick Castillo
Catalog Number: 
new classical

Havana, Cuba

Release Date: 
Feb 14, 2020
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

Third Sound, hailed as a “forward-looking, expert ensemble” (The New Yorker), presents its debut album, Heard In Havana, featuring music by ten living American composers.

In November 2015, the American Composers Forum (ACF) sent Third Sound and a delegation of ten composers to Havana, Cuba, to present a program of contemporary American music at the Havana Contemporary Music Festival. The program, presented in Havana’s eighteenth-century Basílicia Menor de San Francisco de Asís, offered a unique snapshot of the vitality and diversity of the contemporary American musical landscape. The concert moreover represented an historic occasion: against the sociopolitical backdrop of normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba, Third Sound presented the first concert entirely comprising contemporary American music, and with all composers in attendance, to take place in Cuba since before the Cuban Revolution.

Heard in Havana documents Third Sound’s Cuba residency, presenting the works performed at the Havana Contemporary Music Festival—music by Kati Agócs, Ingrid Arauco, Kai-Young Chan, Cindy Cox, Jeremy Gill, Michael Harrison, Jennifer Higdon, Christopher Wendell Jones, Amadeus Regucera, and Spencer Topel—all written since 2001 and representing a diverse group of composers from across the United States. The album encompasses a broad spectrum of modern musical aesthetics, reflecting the dynamism of American composition in the twenty-first century.

“When you think of Cuban music, contemporary classical music most likely isn’t the first – or possibly even the fifth – genre that springs to mind. But a group of American composers and musicians couldn’t resist an opportunity to travel to the island to present their own music and seek out their Cuban colleagues’ work... [Third Sound’s program] represented a wide diversity of aesthetics and backgrounds. The 10 composers came from all over the U.S., are at very different points in their careers and have varying degrees of public exposure – from students to a Pulitzer Prize-winner, Jennifer Higdon. And 40 percent of the composers chosen were women.” (Anastasia Tsioulcas. “A New Music Journey From the U.S. to Havana.” NPR Music, December 9, 2015.)

“Throughout this historic concert, Third Sound played with a level of commitment, joy, and ensemble cohesion that belies the short time they have worked together. The Cuban composers and musicians in attendance were duly enthralled with both the compositions and the performances, which bodes well for future collaborative ventures.” (Arlene & Larry Dunn. “New York-based Third Sound ensemble debuts in Old Havana.” I Care If You Listen, December 15, 2015.)

“Third Sound is already one of the country’s best contemporary music ensembles comprised of New York’s leading chamber musicians. For their debut concert at the Havana Contemporary Music Festival they selected an incredibly diverse range of ten works by leading American composers. Everything was executed with the kind of passion and precision that one only hears from the most experienced ensembles. Working with Third Sound is a composer’s dream!” –Michael Harrison, composer & pianist



"On Heard from Havana, Third Sound celebrates seventy-eight minutes of great music from ten composers who, in all likelihood, have very different relationships with what it is to be “American.” Right now–especially right now–that’s music worth listening to, and an idea worth appreciating." [FULL ARTICLE] - Adam O'Dell


"Heard in Havana shows how difficult, if not impossible, it would be to reduce the multitude of artistic possibilities currently in play to a single, unified expression. This comprehensive collection resoundingly shows the degree to which contemporary American classical music resists easy definition." [FULL ARTICLE



"there aren’t many common threads among the ten pieces chosen. But perhaps that’s the point. An abundant variety of artistic expression is a core value I can also get behind." [FULL ARTICLE] - Andrew Timar


"Many of these structures on Heard in Havana maximize space and silence as musical commentary on modern lives stuffed full of too much clutter, busy-ness and noise, and avoid bright tonal colors in favor of shades of grey and black. "Smash" (by Jennifer Higdon) represents contemporary society's insistence on more speed in communication, in transportation and in general. Flute and violin seem to bounce off the piano, which then sets off in hot pursuit of the flute and violin, chasing faster and faster around to the end. "Smash" suggests the accompaniment to a chase scene in a Bugs Bunny or other classic Warner Bros. cartoon, and simply stops dead like it ran into a brick wall." [FULL ARTICLE] - Chris M. Slawecki