Habana Radio


Vibrating strings: A gift of friendship

By: Ángel Félix Ferrera
Fotos: Alexis Rodríguez

A few hours before ending his latest visit to Cuba, Canadian J.D.Sage, poet, singer, composer, instrumentalist, music researcher and, most of all a human being of exceptional sensitivity, granted us an interview for cybernauts and listeners of Habana Radio.

Whenever he comes back to Cuba, J.D. Sage brings loads of instrumental strings donated by Montreal musicians for Cuban students of Art schools.

Since his first visit to Havana about ten years ago, he has brought tens of kilograms of these essential elements of teaching.Habana Radio Interview JD SAGE

"It's a small gesture on the part of Canadian musicians, as we have great respect for this country, its music and artists. It is a well-known fact that violin and guitar strings are very expensive everywhere. We hope our modest contribution will help new generations of Cuban musicians."

J.D. Sage recalls with emotion his first impressions of Cuba.

"Ten years ago as I was recording a few of my pieces in the EGREM studios, I fell in love with Havana, its traditions, its architecture, but especially its people who are the real treasure of this island. The culture and dignity of the Cuban people deserve the admiration of all."

Our Canadian friend, poet and musician, reminds me that although he has traveled to more than thirty countries in the world he always comes back here to enjoy meeting musicians, going to the beach and making new friends among people he considers a model of education.

I invite him to tell me more about the gift of strings to Cuban music schools.

"A few people, knowing my wish to make this small gift on behalf of Canadian musicians suggested I contact the Museum of Music to find out the best way to distribute strings to the schools, and this is the way we have proceeded ever since."

J.D. Sage shows me with legitimate pride a letter dated a few days previously in which the prestigious musicologist Jesùs Gòmez Cairo, director of the National Museum of Music thanks him for this generous gesture.

"I am aware that Cuba experiences some economic difficulties in the health sector to acquire needed medications, but, as a musician I feel the best help we can provide is in the domain of music: especially in the training (education) of new Cuban musicians. And we thank you for allowing us to do so".

I first met J.D.Sage when he brought his record "Troubadour", a sample of his songs with guitar accompaniment.

"Then I embarked on another project: "AMERICAS" in which I underline the differences that divide this continent like a kind of wall between North and South. As a poet I use stories of American Indians, Brazilian miners, Quebec… And also the unjust treatment of prisoners in fourteen American states who deny them their civil rights even after they have served their sentences. My best known song internationally "Guantanamo Bay" denounces the injustices perpetrated by the United States of America in East Cuba. Beside these songs about social ills, I do have also a romantic repertoire, like the troubadours of old."

Precisely. Listening to his new song "Tourbillon" sung in French and dedicated to women and their courage all over the planet, we say good-bye to this northern friend who keeps coming back with his gift of friendship so that the strings will keep on vibrating in this island of music.

de cuerdas

Haiti and Ethiopia need trees (reforestation) and Cuba needs strings for musical instruments. For most Cuban musicians and students the price of one string can be the equivalent of more than a day's wages: So please consider sending new or usable guitar, bass and violin strings for distribution to Cuban musical schools and colleges. They will be most welcome. Thanks, J.D.SAGE. Send to:

Museo Nacional de La Música. Calle Obra Pía No. 509 e/Bernaza y Villegas, Habana Vieja CP 10100. CUBA

Por favor, enviar las cuerdas musicales (guitarras, violines, etc.):

Gracias J.D.SAGE.

"Strings for Cuba" Interview with J.D. Sage by Mary Travis of the "Maple Leaf Mail Bag" show. RCI (Radio Canada International) Please Listen.