Born in Santiago de Cuba, Omar learned his love of violin from his father. As a student at Estaban Salas, Santiago's finest music school, Omar studied classical music under world renowned professors. At the age of 12 Omar left his family to travel alone to Havana and take up his place at Escuela Nacional de Arte. The next six years were spent studying classical music by day under Russian and Cuban masters, and Cuban music by night in Havana'a famous music Halls. After graduating from Instituto Superior de Arte (Cuba's university for the performing arts), Omar joined the Jose Maria Vitier band and toured Cuba, Mexico, and finished up at the New York Jazz Festival. He joined the Nacional Symphony Orquestra de Cuba (NSOC) where he progressed to first chair. During this time he continued to play with other bands and made an operatic tour of Italy, played at Club Tropicana, made tours of Europe with Ruben Gonzales and Latin America with Guillermo Rubalcaba. He also began to develop a recording career, working with the likes of Orquestra Reve, Charanga Habanera, Pabalo Milanes, Leo Brauer and Silvio Rodriques.
Since arriving in England in 1997 Omar has maintained an international profile, playing all over Europe, USA and Africa, playing with such musicians as Tito Puente, Kirsty MacColl, Jools Holland and Courtney Pine. Omar has appeared on the BBC and several ITV channels, various radio shows as well as at venues the length and breadth of Britain: from Aberdeen to the Isle of Wight, Newcastle to the Eden Project, Belfast to Cork including Ronnie Scott's, The Jazz Cafe, QEH and RFH.
Qualifications / Educational Background
Escuela Nacional de Arte, Cuba
Instituto Superior de Arte
Omar teaches jazz violin at Leeds College of Music, Cuban music at various places including LCM, and Trinity College of Music, London. He continues to teach in Havana, and maintains a close relationship with the Cuba Solidarity Campaign.