Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico
Established in 1959 primarily as a school for preparing musicians to perform as part of the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico has developed into a noteworthy institution providing a wide variety of music-related education to local and international students. Located in the Miramar neighborhood in the district of Santurce, San Juan, the Conservatory has had a number of internationally renowned musicians as students – some of whom have taught at the conservatory over the years – and has a close working relationship with the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra (PRSO) and the prestigious annual Casals Festival.
The PRSO and the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico both came about thanks to the efforts of state legislator Ernesto Antonini who was inspired by the success of the 1957 Casals Festival held in San Juan. Between 1959 and 1995, the Conservatory was under the administration of a number of different government departments, but in 1995 it was granted administrative and financial autonomy by state law and is currently run by a government-appointed board of trustees.
In addition to helping aspiring musicians achieve their goals through formal education, the Conservatory supports a program using music as a basis for encouraging young Puerto Ricans to develop self-confidence and direct their lives in a constructive way. The Music 100×35 program is modeled on the program instituted in Venezuela by the renowned musician Dr. José Antonio Abreu 36 years ago, currently known as the Fundación Musical Simón Bolívar. Music 100×35 is helping more than 600 young Puerto Ricans explore their musical talent, in eleven municipalities – Arroyo, Bayamón, Cataño, Cayey, Dorado, Guayama, Guaynabo, Salinas, San Juan, Toa Alta and Toa Baja. The program also includes concerts by the Symphonic Orchestra of Puerto Rican Youth which features up to one hundred students between the ages of 12 and 21-years.
Under the banner of “Musical Awakening” the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico assist educators to include music as part of their curriculum, thereby encouraging children from a very young age to express themselves through music. The program is also being used successfully among children with special needs, such as those with Down Syndrome. Since its beginning, the Musical Awakening Project has trained up to 780 teachers, reaching more than 15,000 children and their families with the universal language of music.