Here are some of the photos currently on display in the lobby of Sala Sinfonica, taken in the 1980’s, of members of the PRSO, past and present—a trip down memory lane! Let’s start with clarinetists:
Why, there’s Kathy Jones:
Jose Rafael Bracero-Lopez (“Bracero”) 2nd clarinetist before Pochi, beloved for being “buena gente”.
Bob Handschuh, may he rest in peace, was 2nd clarinetist in the early years of the PRSO, and, later, re-entered as bass clarinetist:
And a younger George Morales (with hair!) current bass clarinetist:
Here is David Bourns, now living in Orlando, FL, who was principal oboe in the PRSO for more than three decades, as well as professor at the CMPR, founding member of Camerata Caribe, once-Dean of Studies, fabulous arranger of Puerto Rican music, etc., etc. etc….. Oh, now, published poet. You can download his arrangement of Mislan’s Danza “Sara” from my music store.
Freddie Silva, may he rest in peace, was the principal bassist for many years:
Here is a photo of our current concertmaster, Omar Velazquez, as a young Assistant Concertmaster (with hair!):
Here are beloved Jaime Medina, may he rest in peace, and his nephew Fernando, who wrote “Netiquette”, recorded on my CD Caribe Clarinete. Jaime picked me up the day of my wedding and drove me to the church in his classic old black Packard, which will always be a special memory for us!
PRSO: Dec. 23rd was our festive and highly popular Christmas concert, led by Emeritus Conductor Roselin Pabon. Sala Sinfonica was sold out! And for good reason—among our soloists “from the patio” were Rafi Davila, tenor, now at the Met Opera; Tatiana Irizarry, up-and-coming soprano; the Sanz siblings, Lizbeth on guitar and brother Luis, composer, arranger and cuatrista, featured on the Latin Grammy show opening in 2018. The small choir, led by JoAnne Herrero, was PEPOSO! You had to look twice to believe that so few (highly trained) singers produced such a warm, rich sound. The crowd LOVED the concert! Feliz Navidad!
CMPR Coro de Clarinetes: Dec. 9th: A reduced, 6-member group played at a gathering to earn donations for the Beca Don Jesus Figueroa, for the trip to ClarinetFest 2019, and premiered the Coro’s new banner: shown here are Clara Ruiz, Wesley Rivera, Alejandra Vega, Jean Paul Irizarry, Joel Rosario (our thanks for producing the banner!) and Ezequiel Acevedo.
PRSO: Dec. 8th was the Messiah, using Handel’s original scoring with just 20 musicians on stage, Maximiano Valdes conducting, and an inspiring Coral Filharmonica directed by Carmen Acevedo up in the balcony. Sala Sinfonica was sold out, and the ovation at the end was thunderous.
CMPR: Dec. 3rd Laura Correa presented her graduation recital in the Sala Sanroma: Danzi Concert Piece #2; Kovacs Hommage to Bach; Saint- Saens Tarantella with flute and piano; after intermission, Sonia Morales’ Introspection, and finishing up with Piazzolla’s History of the Tango. Congratulations, Laura! Great job!
PRSO: Nov. 24th subscription concert with Guillermo Figueroa on the podium and Nestor Torres as soloist, playing a new concerto for flute by Mariano Morales (Ricardo’s oldest brother.)
Here we are after the dress rehearsal: Mariano Morales, Kathy Jones, Guillermo Figueroa and Nestor Torres. This is a very cool new piece– jazzy, Latin, and fun, yet with a serious dedication to the resilience of the Puerto Rican people after Hurricane Maria.
And here I am with sister Ivonne (fine pianist!) and Guillermo after the concert:
PRSO: Nov. 17th we played a show with Maria Callas in hologram. It was very interesting, and wonderful to hear that voice, from beyond the grave!
PRSO: Nov. 11th Margarita Pernikoff, a beloved member of the Asociacion Pro Orquesta Sinfonica (APOS) turned 95; four of us from the orchestra went to her apartment at 3 pm to serenade her with a Stamitz Quartet, thanking her for her many years of dedication to the Beca Sanroma, which offers scholarships to Orchestra members for summer study.
Pro Arte: Then at 7 pm that evening, Pro Arte Musical (a private music presenter) offered us a concert by the fabulous Anat Cohen, Israeli jazz clarinetist. Here she is afterwards, signing a CD for my student Natanael Oyola-Ramos:
CMPR: She came to the Conservatory the next day and gave a very well received master class. Anat ROCKS!
PRSO: Nov. 10th—our official 60th anniversary concert with Maximiano Valdes conducting. We opened with Roberto Sierra’s Symphony #5 (Rio Grande de Loiza) and closed with Brahms Symphony #1. In between were arias with the incomparable voice of our own Ana Maria Martinez. We were all proud of our 60 years serving the people of Puerto Rico!
PRSO: Nov. 1 and Nov. 3—concerts on the island (Arecibo and Moca, respectively,) celebrating our 60th anniversary. We had never played in Moca before. Here is a picture of the gorgeous view from the bus as we went to work on Saturday the 3rd:
The PRSO was featured in the Latin American Music Awards at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles on Oct. 25th, accompanying Daddy Yankee in his hit “Yo Contra Ti” about the fight to conquer breast cancer, sponsored by the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Not our usual rep, but we are all proud to be part of this important effort.
It was a wonderful opportunity also to see two dear friends—Michele Zukovsky and Patty Massey. I missed the photo op at RDG Woodwinds with Patty, but here are Pochi (Emmanuel Diaz, 2nd clarinetist, PRSO) and I with Michele. Michele retired in December of 2015 from the principal chair of the Los Angeles Philharmonic; she entered the orchestra at the age of 18 in 1961. Her father, Kalman Bloch, was principal for more than 40 years. Talk about a dynasty! Both Michele and her father are legends in the clarinet world. I first met her in 1976, when she came to Puerto Rico as the principal clarinetist of the Casals Festival Orchestra. It was great fun having lunch in LA!
The Coro de Clarinetes del CMPR (the Conservatory’s Clarinet Choir) has made recordings of 14 works by local composers. The first is available to download NOW here in my music store: Acordes Cotidianos, by William Ortiz, who was just awarded the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award by Marquis Who’s Who.
The composer’s notes about this interesting work are:
“Written in 2003 for the clarinets in the Band of the University of Puerto Rico, Bayamon. It uses melodies and counterpoint to create interactions of chords between the four B-flat clarinets, producing in general an effervescent sonority. Also, the piece demonstrates the versatility of the clarinet, exploring possibilities of timbre, and different registers. The work invites the ear to smile, sing and dance.”
The choir’s recordings are $1 per download, and all proceeds go to the Beca Don Jesus Figueroa, the scholarship fund which supports trips to ClarinetFests and the purchase of instruments for the clarinet majors.
PRSO: Oct. 13– fourth subscription concert, with our beloved former principal cellist, Jesus Morales (Ricardo’s younger brother,) as soloist in the Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations. Also up was Copland’s Third Symphony, all led by our associate conductor, Rafael Enrique Irizarry.
PRSO: Oct. 6– third subscription concert, with Maximiano Valdes conducting and the fabulous violist Hsin-Yun Huang in the Bartok Concerto. Also on the program were Ginastera’s Panambi and Debussy’s Images. In this last work there are several impossible page turns; if you check both sides of the pages very carefully, you can “cut the chart,” as Bill McColl used to say, turning the top half first. It helps!
On September 24th in Eugene, Oregon, my home town, Nathan Cammack passed away, the beloved Eugene Junior Symphony conductor during my sisters’ and my high school years. Please see “On Conductors” on my Writings tab to read my tribute to him.
PRSO plays Tosca with our wonderful local stars Yali Marie Williams and Rafi Davila on Sept. 13 and 15, with Maximiano Valdes conducting. If you are ever going to play this masterpiece, be sure your tenon joints and corks are in good shape—there are 22 changes between A and B-flat clarinets—11just in the first act of 23 pages…
Here are our stars!
PRSO season starts up right on schedule! First concert was a wildly successful concert of Broadway music on August 11th. Our second concert, on August 16th, was a heartfelt homage to our recently deceased and much beloved tenor Antonio Barasorda. Our subscription opener followed on August 25th, dedicated to music of Leonard Bernstein, who was born 100 years before, on that date. Another highly successful concert. We are praying for a tranquil hurricane season. CMPR started classes on August 13th—I have 14 (wonderful!) students. This is retirement???
I went to ClarinetFest in Ostend, Belgium. What a banquet! And it was a beautiful tribute to the much loved Guido Six.
The Fest’s custom artwork:
And here I am on the last day of the Fest, with friends Gerry Errante, Jan Phillips, and Jane Eller, ready to set off and see the Atlantic Wall, a site preserving Hitler’s World War II fortification just a few kilometers to the west. It was a sobering visit. A guide said it only took the Nazi forces 18 days to conquer Belgium.
Great recital on E-flat by old friend Jorge Montilla!
Ted Lane and I were cheering audience members at John Bruce Yeh’s great recital of works by James Stephenson.
The Great Paquito D’Rivera, after his fabulous master class.