The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra will open it’s 90th Anniversary Season with a bang on Saturday, September 21, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. at the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa. Pauline Barrett Artistic Director and Conductor Jason Weinberger will conduct From Havana to the Arabian Nights and welcome to the stage guest pianist, Ignacio “Nachito” Herrera. 

The concert is sponsored by Gallagher Family Foundation, Western Home Communities, Matt and Pooneh Glascock, Nancy and Scott Graen, Jan and Steve Moore, Kent and Barb Opheim, 93.5 The Mix, The Courier and KWWL-TV.


The concert program will include the Concert Overture No. 1 by Florence Price and two of the great classical selections in the orchestral repertoire, Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin, with Mr. Herrera as piano soloist and Scheherazade by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov. 


Recognized as a young genius, Ignacio “Nachito” Herrera stunned Cuban audiences at the age of twelve, performing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Havana Symphony Orchestra. Famed Cuban pianist and Buena Vista Social Club member, Ruben Gonzalez invited the 16-year-old Nachito to join him on stage and inspired the teenager to study the traditional rhythms of his native Cuba. Nachito’s classical grounding, natural abilities and enthusiasm have led him to be considered by many as the greatest Cuban pianist of his generation. 

Nachito has toured the world with the famed “Cubanismo” ensemble as its lead pianist, arranger and Musical Director. He was also a special guest with the “Afro-Cuban All Stars” on their U.S. tour. He has played at many of the world’s finest concert halls and prestigious jazz festivals. His many awards include the Minneapolis City Pages Best Jazz Artist (four times), an Emmy award, Grammy awards, Minnesota Music Awards and Immigrant of Distinction, among many others. 

Nachito performs often with orchestras including the Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota Youth Symphony, Metropolitan Orchestra (MN), the Cuban National Symphony, the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra and the Chippewa Valley (WI) Symphony. He has also appeared in our region as a soloist with the University of Eau-Claire Big Band and at UNI’s Tallcorn Jazz Festival.


Tom Surrowicz of the Minneapolis Star Tribune has called Nachito’s playing: 

“Hotter than the burning tip of a contraband Cuban cigar. Stronger than a straight shot of Havana rum…Explosive, Crowd-pleasing. Rhythmically intense. Romantic. Dynamic. Jaw-droppingly good.” 

The performance of Florence Price’s Concert Overture No. 1, is the first performance of a series of works by women composers during the 2019-2020 season.  Music by Peggy Stuart Coolidge, Fanny Mendelssohn and Joan Tower will be performed in concerts later in the season.

Pre-concert entertainment in the lobby of Gallagher-Bluedorn for this concert will be provided by the Hip Hop Literacy group of Waterloo.  

Tickets for From Havana to the Arabian Nights are priced at $54, $44, $25 and $20 for adults, $10 for college students and $5 for youth below college. Tickets may be purchased at, at the Gallagher-Bluedorn ticket office on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa or through UNItix by calling 319-273-4849. 

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