By Charly SHELTON
If the recent muggy weather of late isn’t enough to inspire visions of old Havana, then it’s time for a more literal approach. Hot Havana Night is coming to Glendale this Saturday, July 25. A fundraiser for the Arturo Sandoval Institute, this gala event will bring enough of Cuba to have you reaching for a mojito and a hand fan.
“This is a unique experience,” said Mercy Velazquez, CEO of the Arturo Sandoval Institute. “We are bringing the old 1950s Havana into a courtyard in Glendale. We have mojitos, we have cigar rollers, we have salsa dancing, we have the old Havana, we have Tropicana girls, a DJ all night, we have special entertainment, Rosalia de Cuba. She is coming straight from Cabo San Lucas with her band. She is fabulous … Also,
Arturo Sandoval is going to play a few tunes.”
This event will help raise funds for the Arturo Sandoval Institute, which encourages students to continue their music education regardless of their financial position. ASI helps with scholarships, musical instruments, classes, concerts and even direct financial support. The success stories from those who have received help are inspiring.
“[One student who is a part of ASI is] going to Berklee [College of Music with a] full ride [as a] trumpet player,” said Velazquez. “He played trumpet to trumpet with Arturo Sandoval [at] our April concert. That was our third concert. What we do every year [is] audition the best music students [from] everywhere. And we put together a band which is called the ‘Arturo Sandoval All-Star Youth Band’
and they play with Arturo on stage at the Alex Theatre.”
This year a young musician gets a full ride kids to Berklee thanks to his talent, she added.
But this is where the ASI comes into action. In order for a student like him to accept that scholarship, he needs to have a certain type of trumpet or he cannot go. He has been playing in the high school trumpet [band] for years and his parents do not have the funds for a new trumpet. At one point, Velazquez said, the parents contemplated selling their car to buy the trumpet for him.
“So one day, at his last band performance, Arturo went and, in front of everybody, we gave him a brand new trumpet so he could go to Berklee,” she said.
In addition to the individual help that ASI provides, it also recently made a donation of several instruments to Marshal
Fundamental Secondary School, said Velazquez.
Marshal was burglarized in March and lost about $15,000 worth of band equipment. ASI helped to recoup some of the lost band equipment and kept the program on track. Fundraisers like Hot Havana Night and donations from sponsors are ways ASI can afford to help burgeoning musicians.
“When I say I’m part of the Arturo Sandoval Institute and I’m giving trumpets to kids that want to be musicians in the future’ [people are very responsive and willing to help]. That’s what I want people to understand; this is very a unique [program].”
Tickets are available at http://www.arturosandovalinstitute.org/events/hot-havana-night-gala and are $180 per seat, or $1,800 for a table of up to 10 seats. The price is hefty but, as
Velazquez said, it is for a good cause and it is something that you won’t find anywhere else.
“People [may not] understand what we’re putting together. People think this is another chamber mixer and it’s not,” she said. “I’m bringing Tropicana girls. We’re going to have cigar rollers. Suggested [attire for women is to wear white dresses] and gentlemen [are suggested to wear] white shirts, black khaki pants and their hats, like old Havana. We are going to have a fabulous auction. We’re going to have a trumpet signed by Arturo [which he played in a concert].”
Velazquez stressed this event is unique to Glendale and hopes people understand that and fill the seats not only to enjoy the performances but to help future muscians.
Hot Havana Night is on Saturday, at 5:30 p.m. at the Plaza at 801 N. Brand Blvd.