Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra Principal Clarinet Chair

The fabulous Duo Scarbó–Saint Saens’ Carnival of the Animals

The fabulous Duo Scarbó (Elena Hammel and Laura Sánchez, pianists) appeared with us on May 28th playing Saint Saens’ Carnival of the Animals on our 12th subscription concert. I still remember their performance of Ravel’s Rapsodie Espagnol in the Casals Festival several years ago—they got so many colors out of their two pianos that I was amazed not to be missing any of the instruments from the composer’s later orchestration of the piece. Elena, now mother of two beautiful young children, is pursuing a new career in Montesori piano teaching. Thus, their appearance marked their last performance as a duo. Their energetic and sensitive work will be missed!

Elena Hammel and Laura Sánchez with Cecilia Talavera, Elena’s teacher
Elena Hammel and Laura Sánchez with Cecilia Talavera, Elena’s teacher

Here they are with Cecilia Talavera, Elena’s teacher, who also just announced her retirement, at the tender age of 93, from Conservatory teaching. Doña Ceci has been a key figure at the CMPR since its doors opened in 1960, first as a student of Jesús María Sanromá, then as a professor, and always as a fine pianist, especially in duos with her sister, Luz Hutchinson. I call her Santa Cecilia, the patron saint of music, because she has been the personification of that ideal in Puerto Rico for so many decades. Mother of four, grandmother of eight, great-grandmother of 16, aunt of our concertmaster, and teacher of hundreds (including Elena and the CMPR’s chancellor, Maria del Carmen Gil,) Ceci must stay close to us all!



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