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Soas Cuban Big band: latin rhythms of diversity and joy

Viktor da Silva, BA Music and Social Anthropology

‘Orquesta Estelar’, also known as the SOAS Cuban Big Band, is a musical group that specialises in performing a wide range of traditional and modern Cuban music as well as Colombian, Puerto Rican, and other Latin repertoires. The band is directed by the lovely professional Latin musician Sara McGuinness. She brings her wealth of experience and knowledge to the band, inspiring and motivating the members to continuously improve their skills. We welcome all musicians and singers. We are 35-40 members strong and still growing. We feature members from all walks of life—SOAS and beyond—including students (undergraduate and postgraduate), staff, and members from the wider community. The band has even collaborated with Cuban musicians, including members of the legendary Buena Vista Social Club. 

One of the unique features of the SOAS Cuban Big Band is our commitment to maintaining the authenticity of Cuban, Colombian, and Puerto Rican music while also incorporating our influences and salsa dance moves. Many of the band members come from diverse cultural backgrounds and bring their own musical traditions to the group.

“We embrace our differences and celebrate our common love for music, creating a harmonious and joyful atmosphere that we believe radiates from the stage to the audience.”

In addition to our performances, the SOAS Cuban Big Band also offers workshops and masterclasses, where we teach students and other musicians about Cuban music and its rich history. The band has previously worked with schools, community groups, and other groups to teach young people about the rich cultural heritage of Latin American music.

The SOAS Cuban Big Band is a testament to the power of music in bringing people together across cultures and backgrounds. Our joyous, rhythmic performances are a celebration of the rich and vibrant musical traditions of Cuba and beyond, and a tribute to the talent and dedication of the musicians who make up the band. We believe we offer a unique and authentic experience that hopefully will transport you to the vibrant streets of Havana or the sultry beaches of Puerto Rico. Come join the party and feel the rhythm of the Latin beat!

We rehearse weekly on Tuesday evenings in G52 (Main Building) at 7:15 pm and play regular gigs in the JCR, the Post Bar and beyond. Our next gig is at the Post Bar on Tuesday, 21 March, at 7:30 pm, so save the date and come through with your dancing shoes!

Photo Caption: SOAS Cuban Big Band performing at a Post Bar gig in February 2022 (credit: Ian Shaw).

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