Zenaida Romeu combines her artistic activities with teaching at the Higher Institute of Art in Havana and she has given masterclasses in choral and orchestral conducting as well as lectures on Cuban music in Spain, Mexico and the US.
She played a pivotal role in renewing the Cuban choral movement by founding the ‘Cohesion chamber choir’ in 1982, introducing body language, gestures and repertoire into the choir which replicated the instrumental traditions of Cuban orchestras.
In 1989, Zenaida Romeu was given the opportunity to work as the Assistant Orchestra Director to Gonzalo Romeu at the Estudio Lirico company, where she went on to found a choir and worked to revive Cuban lyrical music, presenting zarzuelas and operettas and gaining great recognition in Cuba and abroad. She also toured Italy, directing operettas for the Naples-based Bellini Theatre Company. Zenaida Romeu spent 1990 and 1992 living in Spain and giving master classes in choral conducting in Vigo.
Zenaida Romeu returned to Cuba and formed her chamber orchestra: Camerata Romeu in 1993, with sponsorship from the Pablo Milanés Foundation. The group’s name pays homage to the generations of musicians on the maternal side of her family, and its mission is to dedicate itself to the recognition and promotion of Cuban and Latin American music. The repertoire and the costumes of the musicians are designed to present a new, fresh image, along with a requirement of performing everything from memory: from Bartok’s Divertimento to Camerata in Guaguancó de Guido López Gavilán or Egberto Gismonti’s Music for Strings.
Just one year after it was formed, the Camerata Romeu was given the recently restored Minor Basilica of San Francisco de Asís in Old Havana to use as its headquarters and has had visiting composers, soloists, groups and orchestra directors who have worked with the orchestra within Cuba as well as overseas.
Zenaida Romeu has directed all the Cuban orchestras and has been guest director of the National Philharmonic of Cuba, including leading several national tours with them. Founder of the Orchestra of the Higher Institute of Art, she has also directed the Bard University orchestra and the Winston Salem Youth Orchestra in North Carolina. As a conductor she has conducted symphony orchestras not only in Cuba but also in the US, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Canada.
She has accompanied important Cuban soloists and international figures such as Michel Legrand, Egberto Gismonti, Horacio Franco, Ben Sung, Ernan and Harold Lopez-Nussa, Gonzalo Romeu, Barbara Hendricks, Arve Tellefsen, Øyvind Gimse, Joao Donato, Swami Jr., Maurizio D’Alessandro, Carlos Reyes, Polly Ferman, Antonio Peruch, Serranito, Gerardo di Giusto, Omara Portuondo, and Arturo O’Farrill among others.
As a musical director, she has worked on animated films such as, The Ugly and The Moon in the Garden of the filmmakers Yemely Cruz and Adanoe Lima as well as the films, The Annunciation by Enrique Pineda Barnet, The Skinny Award and Chamaco by Juan Carlos Cremata, Sold by Jorge Perrugorría and Boccacherias by Arturo Sotto.
She has received dozens of awards including two Latin Grammy nominations, several Cubadisco awards, the Marseille Medal, the Philadelphia Bell, a diploma as Illustrious Guest of the City of Los Angeles, and Havana, the Giraldilla, Awards Lucas, Cuba Disco Honor Award, and the Order for Cuban Culture, among others.