Updates and News

Dear Friends,

The fall semester is quickly approaching, with registration taking place September 7th and classes beginning September 20th.  As always, there has been lots of activity at the Conservatory, and much exciting news to report.

We are proud to announce Conservatory Director Ramon Rodriguez has been awarded a 2010 Bobby Capo Lifetime Achievement Award. The Bobby Capó Lifetime Achievement Award was created by Battery Park City Authority in 1997 in honor of ‘Hispanic Heritage Month’.  There will be an awards ceremony on September 8, 2010 at 6:00 pm  followed by a concert at 7:00 pm featuring the California based Central American group, Opa Opa. The ceremony and concert will be held at the Battery Park City, Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park, and are free and open to the general public.

The award honors Hispanics within the State of New York who have distinguished themselves in the public, cultural, social sectors and in the arts. Joining Mr. Rodriguez in receiving this prestigious award are Susana Tubert, Co- Founder and Executive Director of the Latino International Theater Festival of New York, Shirley Rodriguez Remeneski, Founder and Executive Director of 100 Hispanic Women and Inspector David Colon, Community Affairs, New York City Police Department.

Serving as a testament to Rodriguez’ gifts as an educator, the Harbor Latin Youth Ensemble has been invited by Jazz at Lincoln Center to participate in their October 22nd and 23rd Afro-Cuban Jazz Celebration entitled, “Jazz Meets Clave.” The weekend celebration features Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in the Rose Theater, and Chucho Valdes performing in The Allen Room.  This is an exciting opportunity for Harbor students to share billing with such major figures in the world of Jazz.

Keeping the music playing, on November 6th, the New York Historical Society will present the Harbor Conservatory Latin Big Band under the musical direction of Louis Bauzo in a tribute concert honoring the great King of Latin Music – Tito Puente. Produced by Puente’s right hand man—Joe Conzo, and featuring Ronnie Puente, the concert is part of the society’s programming in conjunction with the historic exhibition, Nueva York which opens this fall at El Museo del Barrio and examines Spanish speaking New York from the 1600s to 1940s.

The year ends with the December 26th Kwanza Celebration at the Museum of Natural History produced by Communityworks featuring Harbor Conservatory’s GESTURES Dance Ensemble. Joining GESTURES for this program is the world renowned Dance Theater of Harlem and other outstanding New York arts groups.

Nina Gale Olson
Director of External Affairs


Class Registration and New Videos on Youtube

Hello Friends,

The fall is fast approaching as summer nears its end.  Registration for fall classes begins September 7th; for more information call us at 212-427-2244 Ext. 573.  In preparation for the upcoming semester, we’ve been putting together videos highlighting our Music, Dance, Theater, and Little People’s Creative Arts programs here at the Harbor.  We’ve put three of these videos up on youtube, which can be seen here (for all programs), here (for dance) and here (for Little People’s Creative Arts).  Enjoy the videos and we’ll see you all in September!

The Making of a Musical Theater Student: Performance

Hello Friends,

For those of you who read part one of “The Making of a Musical Theater Student”, you now know what a day in the rehearsal life of a musical theater student is like.  If you haven’t read it, you can do so here.  Last Friday, following two weeks of rehearsals, the group performed what it had been perfecting behind closed doors…

The show opened with a Medley of Broadway songs, containing On Broadway (from 42nd Street), Greased Lightning (Grease), Ease on Down the Road (The Wiz), Little Shop (Little Shop of Horrors), and Part of Your World (Little Mermaid).  The songs were sharp, and the kids remained un-phased when an audience member began cheering before the piece was over.

Next came a hip-hop dance piece to the song Pump it Up by Joe Budden.  Dance instructor Natrea Blake explained the challenge in choreographing this song to the audience, as the students’ had different levels of dance experience.  The group did a great job, as the choreography worked well and the students were all in sync.

The following piece was a loosely written skit called “Elevator Breakdown”, which  required an audience member and improvisation from both the performers and audience participant.  This scene featured some great individual performing by Ohene Okera, who played a man freaking out on an elevator, requiring very specific, hilarious instructions to bring him back to normalcy.  Ohene shined, as did the very energetic woman brought in from the crowd.

Next was a piece called “Two Lost Souls”, with pianist Michika Fukumori accompanying performers Zoe George and Mylenia Lopez.  This clever, short skit had the girls singing, arguing, praising one another, and eventually angrily parting.  Well executed and very funny, the Zoe and Mylenia also got to showcase their impressive vocal abilities.

“The Kidnapping” followed, starring Bailey Lawson along with instructors Michael Awusie and Amy Hall.  Bailey played the wife of a kidnapped man, while Michael and Amy played interviewers for a major news station.  Bailey realized this interview would be seen by “thousands of people” and laughter ensues.  Her performance was mature and funny, and she did a great job oscillating between genuine emotion and made-for-tv emotional theatrics.

A tap dance piece featuring guest artist and professional tap dancer Marshall Davis Jr. (currently touring with Savion Glover) was next.  This was my first time seeing tap performed, and I was very impressed at the group’s ability to dance and create rhythms simultaneously while remaining in sync.

“My Fellow Cavemen” followed, the satirical caveman skit I mentioned in my rehearsal article.  The class completely embodied these characters, and performed the piece very well.  One of the kids briefly forgot a line, but recovered immediately and the scene continued without a hitch.

In “Tomorrow”, individual monologues were interspersed with the singing of Tomorrow (from the Broadway play Annie).  The ideas for these monologues, based on issues teenagers and young adults face, came from the kids themselves.  I really enjoyed seeing the serious side of the group, as this sad, somber piece gave new meaning to the song.

Another skit, “Landshark”, was performed next.  This comical piece had a killer land shark visiting peoples’ houses, fooling them into opening the door, and murdering them.  Switching between the shark break-ins and commentators covering the phenomenon, this skit was clever, hilarious, and very good.

To finish the show, the group sang and danced to You Can’t Stop the Beat from Hairspray.  I had this song in my head all weekend, and the performers’ infectious energy reached its pinnacle on this song.  This was the perfect way to end the show on a high note.

So there you have it; from rehearsal to performance, the making of a musical theater student.  What this group achieved in two short weeks was nothing short of amazing.  I look forward to next year’s group already, and highly recommend any young teenager with an interest in musical theater check this camp out.

The Making of a Musical Theater Student: Rehearsal

Hello Friends,

Last Friday marked the end of our two-week long Musical Theater Intensive for children ages 11 to 14.  After being wowed by the quality of the final performance last summer, I decided to find out exactly what goes into the making of a musical theater student.  I spent last Wednesday observing the day long rehearsals in order to understand how class introductions turns into a professional production in two weeks.  Here is what I saw:

The first class was run by Theater Arts Program Coordinator Michael Awusie.  I arrived about an hour into the class, and the students were working on a scene about cavemen. This skit asked the students to be forceful and primal while playing a satirical role containing references to leadership and politics in the real world. I can’t imagine this is a role any of the kids have played before, and it certainly wasn’t an easy one.  As I discovered throughout the day, the ability level varies from student to student, but the goal of a successful overall scene regardless of individual talent is paramount.  To reach this goal, Michael prodded the students with plenty of encouragement, but refused to accept anything less than their best.

As the primary acting instructor, much of Michael’s instruction revolved around how best to present a given role. In order to embody a character, it is essential to understand the meaning behind who they are supposed to be.  This skit in particular came across to me as a complex combination of the rawest, most organic human condition (the actors as cavemen), the challenges of politics and leadership, and an understanding that behind it all, this was a comedic scene.  Certainly not an easy concept to grasp. The students are challenged both intellectually and artistically here and in every other piece as the day progressed.  Michael did an excellent job comparing the situations on stage to real life scenarios the young performers could relate to.  Through the struggles that come with developing a difficult scene, Michael and the students showed exceptional patience.  The actors’ themselves did a great job pushing each other, and communicating amongst themselves adjustments that needed to be made.

The next class was hip-hop dance, run by dance faculty member Natrea Blake.  The group worked on a choreographed dance piece to a popular hip-hop song, and was run at an extremely fast pace.  Corrections were made on the fly with only brief pauses, but for the most part everybody kept up and showed a remarkable memory of the dance steps.  Natrea did not tolerate a loss of focus, telling one of the younger students, “you’re a young professional, not just a young person” when her attention began to wander.  Natrea was extremely supportive, and the kids did not get angry at each other after mistakes, instead shouting encouragement and offering advice throughout the session.  It was clear the students really enjoyed this portion of the class.

After lunch, the camp regrouped with pianist Michika Fukumori for a piece that required both singing and acting.  Musical Theater Director Darrell Moultrie and Mr. Awusie were present for this portion of the camp.  This was the first time I’d seen the group do a piece combining singing, dancing, and acting; this combination produced a different type of energy that the class really fed off of.  The students were later joined by guest vocal instructor Maureen Brown.  Maureen instructed the class on what they needed to be aware of while singing in a theatrical setting.  Specifically, Maureen stressed the importance of maintaining proper technique and vocalization while staying in character, along with how best to sing when your role requires an uncomfortable posture.  Maureen told the kids, “I’m not looking for perfection, I’m looking for participation”, an apt line, particularly for the shyer singers in the group.  There was a major emphasis on “performing” while singing.  A musical theater student needs to be able to sing with enthusiasm and attitude while staying in character.  Even something as simple as smiling while singing adds a lot to a scene in happier pieces.  Maureen fit right in with the rest of the teachers; a professional who wasn’t afraid to push, treated the students like performers, and knew how to get the most out of the group.

The last two rehearsals of the day were a medley of Broadway songs and a tap dance number.  By this time the students were hot and tired, but pushed through and finished strong.  One kid haphazardly said he didn’t like a line, and was criticized for his approach.  He was told expressing opinions is definitely encouraged, but he needs to approach the change in a constructive way. And on this note, a long day ended.

My immediate impression at the end of the day was an awe of the raw talent in the camp. But in reality this ten-day intensive is about so much more.  The talent aspect is obvious; anybody who can simultaneously dance, sing, and act has learned skills most of us will never pick up.  It is the process that makes the students, teachers, and school exceptional.  The classes are set up with an emphasis on professionalism, learning, and encouragement.  At one point during the class Darrell said, “What you do in the last hour, when you’re tired, distinguishes the leaders from the followers.” Forgiving the cliché, this exemplifies how what is learned here applies far beyond the realm of musical theater.  The focus, leadership, creativity, and intellectual challenges required to survive this camp are skills that apply to almost anything in life.  These students are learning to be far more than actors, singers, and dancers.  They are learning to be people.

Summer Jazz Program Schedule

Dear Friends,

Registration is now open for our summer Jazz Program!  Under the direction of pianist/composer Gustavo Casenave, the Harbor Conservatory  Jazz Program is designed to develop skilled performers, composers, and arrangers in preparation for advanced college level study and future professional careers.
Focusing on all aspects of Jazz education, this program offers an innovative curriculum, comprised of not only traditional Jazz studies, but a broader world – vision of Jazz and the art of improvisation. Master classes and concerts by major Jazz artists, are offered in addition to the arranging, composition, ear training, and performance courses and opportunities.  The semester runs from July 6th to August 13th.  The schedule is as follows:

Harbor Contemporary Jazz Ensemble –
Mondays:  4:30pm to 6pm (meets as usual)

The All Jazz Ensemble –
Mondays: 6pm to 7:30pm (meets as usual)

Ear Training 1 –
Wednesdays:  4pm to 5pm (different day from before, same time)

Arranging for contemporary Jazz Ensemble –
Wednesdays: 5pm to 6pm (different day from before, same time)

Jazz Composition –
Wednesdays: 6pm to 7pm (different day from before, same time)

Jazz Composition Ensemble –
Wednesdays: 7pm to 8pm (different day from before, same time)

The Harbor Jazz Ensemble –
Tuesdays: 6pm to 8pm (taught by Michika Ishikawa)
(different day from before, same time)

Jazz Private Instruction – (for schedule contact the office)

NOTE:  There will no Jazz Vocal Workshop during the summer semester.

NEW STUDENTS: Please call Gustavo Casenave @ 212/427-2244 Ext. 551 to discuss registering.

RETURNING STUDENTS: Please call the office @ 212/427-2244 Ext. 573 to register.

Harbor Conservatory Celebrates 40th Anniversary!

Nearly 400 people joined in honoring Arturo O’Farrill and Marcia Goldstein at Boys & Girls Harbor’s 18th Salute to Achievement benefit celebrating the Harbor Conservatory’s 40th anniversary on June 14, at the beautiful Hotel Mandarin New York, hosted by WNBC reporter Lynda Baquero. Arturo O’Farrill, GRAMMY Award-winning Musical Director, pianist, composer and educator was presented with the Tony Duke Founders Medal, which was given to him by Harbor Conservatory Director Ramon Rodriguez.  Mr. O’Farrill’s brief comments included reference to the fact that he personally knew so many musicians whose lives had been changed by the Harbor Conservatory. Also honored was Marcia Goldstein.  Ms. Goldstein’s remarks included remembrance of her early career, the many people who inspired her along the way, and her pro-bono and philanthropic work helping victims of domestic violence. The highlight of the evening was the wonderful performances given by Harbor Conservatory students featuring special guest artists from Broadway, Mandy Gonzalez, Rhett George and Nikki Renee Daniels.   More than $2 million was raised at this event to benefit the children and young people of Boys & Girls Harbor, and in celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts.

Nina Gale Olson
Director of External Affairs

Pablo Mayor Launches 7th Annual Encounter of Columbian Musicians




June 18 & June 19, 2010


Pianist/Composer/ Bandleader and Educator Pablo Mayor, a long time member of the music faculty at Harbor Conservatory will present the 7th annual Encounter of Columbian Musicians in New York at El Museo del Barrio on June 18th and 19th. This popular festival features nearly twenty of New York’s renowned Colombian musical ensembles as well as special guests from Colombia. This event highlights Colombia’s musical treasures and its multiple rhythms like cumbia, currulao, vallenato, bambuco, and more, on the eve of the Bicentennial year of Colombian independence. El Museo del Barrio is located in the same building as Harbor Conservatory at Fifth Avenue and 104th Street.

Encuentro developed from an all-day event organized in Bogotá in 1998, when Pablo Mayor was directing the jazz program at the Universidad Javeriana. Mayor had students present music utilizing Colombian rhythms and melodies, with results so productive and enjoyable that Mayor made it the model when organizing a New York event in 2003. Encuentro highlights the finest contemporary and traditional Colombian music, brought together on the same stage for one of New York’s distinct “hot ticket” events

The Encounter, or Encuentro, continues to inspire, educate, and awe its audiences with its varied artist showcases, ranging from the poetry of Marta Gómez, to the fire of virtuoso percussionist Samuel Torres, to the pure joy of the Afro-Colombian music of Diego Obregon‘s marimba de chonta, to the more subtle sounds of Spanish-derived Andean guitar music this year featuring Plectro Trio direct from Colombia. Dance bands like La Cumbiamba eNeYe, Pablo Mayor’s renowned orchestra Folklore Urbano, and more jazz-oriented and avant-garde veterans like Hector Martignon and Lucía Pulido, reveal how Colombian music has taken its place at the forefront of the world music scene here in New York City and beyond.

Adult: at the door: $30.00, in advance: $25.00
Students /Members: $20.00 (valid ID required at the door)
Children (12 and under): $15 (ID required)

To purchase tickets online
Click on the links below ($1 convenience fee may apply):
For Friday: https://www.ovationtix.com/trs/pe/8153625
For Saturday: https://www.ovationtix.com/trs/pe/8153635
For TWO DAY Passes: https://www.ovationtix.com/trs/pe/8153625

To purchase tickets by phone
Please call toll-free OvationTix customer service number 866-811-4111 ($1 convenience fee may apply)

To purchase tickets at Box Office
Visit El Museo’s store, La Tienda, Wednesday – Sunday, 11:00am – 6:00pm.

Afro-Colombian Rhythms Workshops

Harbor Conservatory presents:
In conjunction with
Pablo Mayor and the VII Encounter of Colombian Musicians in NY
4 workshops on Afro-Colombian Rhythms from the Caribbean coast of Colombia

June 15, 16, 17 and 18, 2010
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Individual sessions are $15, a series of all 4 are $50.

Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts is pleased to host 4 workshops on Afro-Colombian Rhythms from the Caribbean coast of Colombia taught by MARCO VINICIO OYAGA, master drummer and musical director for Toto la Momposina as part  of the VII Encounter of Colombian Musicians in New York Festival founded and directed by Pablo Mayor. Individual sessions are $15 each, and a series of all 4 are $50.  To reserve a space please call Pablo Mayor at 917-655-1927, or  Anna Povich de Mayor, at folkloreurbano@earthlink.net. Harbor Conservatory is located in the Heckscher Building along with El Museo del Barrio at One East 104th Street and Fifth Avenue

Learn the African roots of cumbia and other rhythms like porro, fandango, and puya from Colombia’s atlantic coast.  Selected workshop participants will play and participate in a culminating performance in conjunction with El Museo del Barrio’s Super Sabado Target Free Saturdays on June 19th event and Pablo Mayor’s “VII Encounter of Colombian Musicians in NY”

The Encounter, or Encuentro, continues to inspire, educate, and awe its audiences with its varied artist showcases, ranging from the poetry of Marta Gómez, to the fire of virtuoso percussionist Samuel Torres, to the pure joy of the Afro-Colombian music of Diego Obregon‘s marimba de chonta, to the more subtle sounds of Spanish-derived Andean guitar music this year featuring Plectro Trio direct from Colombia. Dance bands like La Cumbiamba eNeYe, Pablo Mayor’s renowned orchestra Folklore Urbano, and more jazz-oriented and avant-garde veterans like Hector Martignon and Lucía Pulido, reveal how Colombian music has taken its place at the forefront of the world music scene here in New York City and beyond. For a full schedule of performances please visit www.elmuseo.org.

A Conversation with Legendary Vocalist Toto la Momposina

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm

El Barrio/East Harlem – Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts & the Raices Latin Music Museum are pleased to host A Conversation with Legendary Colombian Vocalist Toto la Momposina moderated by pianist/composer Pablo Mayor on Tuesday, June 15th at 5:00 pm in the Third Floor Theater located at One East 104th Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.  Admission is $10.   Pablo Mayor is the founder and Artistic Director of the annual Encuentro Festival of Colombian Musicians in New York City scheduled for June 18 and 19, 2010 at El Museo del Barrio.

******Seating for A Conversation with Toto is limited, to reserve a seat  please contact: Pablo Mayor at 917-655-1927, or Anna Povich de Mayor, at folkloreurbano@earthlink.net.

In this informal dialogue, Columbia’s foremost vocalist will discuss her career, and her music which brings together the music of three races, indigenous porro, puya and gaita with Afro-Latin cumbia, mapale and sexteto. Toto, whose given name is Sonia Bazanta Vides was born in the northern Colombian village of Talaigua, in the island of Mompos. As its name suggests, Talaigua was once an Indigenous land. The Spanish invasion five hundred years ago forced the population inland. “The music I play has its roots in mixed race,” she explains. “The flutes are pre-Columbian, the drums of course are from Africa, and the guitar from the conquisadors.” However, she points out that the Spanish guitar actually has its roots in Moorish Africa.

“However, I don’t think of it as `folklore’,” adds Toto. “To me, folklore means something that is dead, in a museum. Traditional music, music from the old days is alive.” There probably isn’t a single person who has done more to revitalize the music of Northern Colombia’s shores. In 1993, she recorded the landmark album, “La Candela Viva” for Peter Gabriel’s RealWorld label and ever since has been busy performing at the world’s top music festivals.

She is a rare performer whose energetic and passionate recordings capture the energy of her live performances. With a fiery voice and a remarkable spontaneous wit, whether she is leading flute and percussion driven porros or brass section and guitar led Afro-Latin cumbias and sextetos, Toto La Momposina uses her torrid vocal power to make sure that there her audience is out of their seats and onto the dance floor, ready to get a taste of some of the most evocative music on the planet.

“We are excited to be able to partner with long time faculty member Pablo Mayor, on this historic conversation with one of Columbia’s foremost artists,” said Nina Olson, Director of External Affairs.   Our focus on Afro-Caribbean music dovetails so perfectly with that of Columbia as many of Totoa la Momposina’s   songs sound a bit Cuban, it is for good reason.”  Through the 19th century, there were huge waves of Cuban immigration along the northern Caribbean Colombian shores near Baranquilla. These slaves brought with them Cuban music, which led to the development of the sexteto, Colombia’s cousin to Cuba’s son. In addition, while Salsa was born among Puerto Ricans, Cubans and Dominicans in New York City it spread to Colombia. Native salsa groups like Fruko y sus Tesos and labels that recorded them like Discos Fuentes emerged. Artists like Joe Arroyo followed, inventing a distinctively Colombian form of salsa.

Nina Gale Olson
Director of External Affairs

All Jazz Ensemble and Harbor Jazz Composers Concerts Announced!

Harbor Jazz Composers: Concert Tuesday, June 8th at 7:30 PM.  Show will be held in the third floor theater and admission is free.  This ensemble will feature works by the Conservatory’s jazz composition students.

All Jazz Ensemble: Concert Wednesday, June 9th at 7:30 PM.  Show will be held in the third floor theater and admission is free.  The ensemble will be performing an evening of jazz standards, and the Harbor Jazz Ensemble will be making a guest appearance.

Hope to see you all at the shows!

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