Camerata Caribe, a chamber music group in residence at the Conservatorio de Música de PR, was formed in August of 1982 by Peter Kern, flute; David Bourns, oboe; Kathleen Jones, clarinet; Alan Brown, bassoon; and Vanessa Vassallo, piano. All of us were full-time professors, and (except for the pianist) full-time principals in the PRSO, with an interest in playing chamber music together. We played dozens of concerts, including presentations at the CMPR, UPR, Festival Casals, and in St. Croix, USVI; Orlando, FL; and Spartanburg, SC. More than sixty-six works have been dedicated to the group, which has as a goal, the fomenting of works by local composers. (An Annotated Bibliography of these works, and some others of interest is available by request— see Writings.) All of us original members have, by now, retired, and have been replaced by the current professors at the CMPR.
On November 29, 2010 our beloved Vanessa passed away at the age of 72. We were taken by surprise, because she always took very good care of herself and we assumed she would live into her 90’s. Cancer apparently paid no attention to her clean living and angelic spirit. I offer the pictures and text below as my tribute to Vanessa, who, for me, was a paragon of grace and beauty. I am so grateful that I knew and worked with her, and she shall always be “en mi corazon.”
One of our most prestigious “gigs” was in the 1989 Casals Festival, when we played a program in four cities around the island, including works by England’s Paul Harvey and Puerto Rico’s Narciso Figueroa, amongst others. Here are two pages from the Centro de Bellas Artes magazine, showing we were in rather stellar company in that Festival! (Shown are Narciso Yepes, the Juilliard String Quartet, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Rostropovich, and Camerata Caribe.)