News Sunshine State

Cuba’s Mano a Mano make beautiful music

Mano a Mano
Written by Richard Hack

This Saturday, July 23, at 8 pm, Mano a Mano, Cuba’s first and only gay men’s chorus will be joining Fort Lauderdale’s own Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida in a concert at the Sunshine Cathedral. Mano a Mano has been touring the country for over a month in their first-ever exposure to American audiences.

The group, consisting of lead singer Arian Ferrer, Orlando Cartier, Carlos Rajos, Yolan Arencibia and Miguel Angel Herrara, was the brainchild of Fermin Rojas, a Cuban-born filmmaker from Miami Beach who thought of forming a gay chorus in his homeland as a form of sharing his culture.

Rojas was in Havana filming the documentary Alumbrones with his husband, producer Jay Kubesch, when the concept began as a kernel of an idea that flowered with the hiring of musical director Ernesto Lima Parets, an adjunct professor at University of Havana School of Music. Auditions were held and the gay men of Cuba responded, apparently eager to share their music in a country where the concept of macho is an enduring one.

The connection with the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida was an easy one. Rojas’ friend, Cuban-American Chris Verdugo, is the executive director.

The upcoming concert will be the last for Mano a Mano on its current US tour, but the boys will be back. America, it seems, likes their sound, and the boys LOVE America.

The gay chorus takes part in Cuba’s annual festival that brings attention to homophobia and transphobia, as part of CENESEX, the National Center for Sex Education lead by Raul Castro’s daughter Mariela.

Tickets for ¡Fraternidad! (Brotherhood), with Mano a Mano and the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida are available at