Registration for the 2011 summer semester for Music is now open.  Classes begin July 5th and will continue until August 18th.  Private lessons are available in piano, violin, guitar, bass, clarinet, flute, saxophone, trumpet, drums, Latin percussion and voice. Workshops and Ensembles will also be in session. Harbor Conservatory is located at One East 104th Street, corner of Fifth Avenue and is a division of Boys & Girls Harbor. To register go to the Conservatory’s main office in Room 573. For more information please call 212/427-2244 Ext. 573 or 557.
Harbor Conservatory is a member of the Berklee City Music Network, established by the Berklee College of Music. Our Music Program takes pride in its commitment to serving children, teenagers and adults in a diverse range of styles from Classical and Jazz to Folkloric and Latin. Our program includes both vocal and instrumental music and instruction is available through individual and group classes. The Conservatory offers exciting, innovative and challenging classes for beginner, intermediate and advanced students from ages 3 through adults.
The two main pillars of the music program are a strong theory foundation as well as an active performance calendar with monthly “in-house” student recitals, three major outside recitals and a guest artist series which hosts a variety of well-known performing artists and master teachers to work with our students.  A large number of ensembles and workshops in all styles and levels are offered to our young performers as an important part of their musical development.
The Harbor’s world-renowned Latin Music Program spans a curriculum that ranges from Contemporary Salsa and Latin Jazz to traditional Afro-Caribbean folkloric music, and a faculty of “who’s who in Latin music”.  Students study a variety of musical forms such as danzon, son, cha cha cha and mambo, as they learn music illustrating different periods and artists in Latin music history.
At the Conservatory students enjoy the unique opportunity to learn while playing classic music made popular by artists such as Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Johnny Pacheco and others. The Conservatory has been a recipient of the Tito Puente Scholarship Fund, Celia Cruz Foundation, Johnny Pacheco Scholarship Fund, Carlos Santana’s Milagro Foundation and Phish Fan’s Mockingbird Foundation.


Become a Latin Music Master

At the
Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts “The Home of Latin Music”
SPRING SEMESTER – February 2, 2011 – June 11, 1011
Registration on NOW

Our faculty comprises exceptionally talented artists and educators who bring a blend of musical skill and performance experience to the classroom and who have all performed with world-famous bandleaders Tito Puente, Machito, Tito Rodriguez, Mongo Santamaria, Ray Barretto, and more. Students can study almost any instrument in the Latin style and drummers may choose to specialize in conga, timbales, or bongo. Harbor Conservatory, a division of Boys & Girls Harbor is the first New York City member school of the Berklee City Music Network of the Berklee College of Music.
Harbor Conservatory is proud of its long-term history of celebrating the rich musical legacy of the Caribbean through individual and group instruction, special ensembles, public performances, master classes, and faculty and guest artists. Instruction is available for students as young as five years old as well as teens and adults, and the curriculum serves both novice as well as those with professional aspirations.
Harbor Conservatory conducts an array of Latin music workshops and ensembles preparing students with professional level challenges. Latin rhythm sectionals, Salsa workshops and a 21-piece Latin Big Band offer students the opportunity to advance as quickly as their talent, skill and commitment will allow.
To learn more about the Harbor Conservatory’s Latin Music Program you may visit us on-line at  For more information you may call us at 212/427-2244 ext. 573.

Paloma Gratereaux Awarded Bertin K. Rowser Scholarship

Dear Friends,

Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts is pleased to announce that Paloma Gratereaux has been selected as the 2010 – 2011 recipient of the Bertin K. Rowser Scholarship for Excellence.  Bertin K. Rowser was active in New York City Theater for more than 20 years and served as the Artistic and Theater Arts Director of the Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts for ten years beginning in 1986.  He passed away on March 5, 1998.

A passionate and tireless advocate for quality performing arts education for young people, Bertin Rowser had a remarkable gift for motivating and inspiring both students and colleagues.  By creating vital theater pieces that addressed issues facing the lives of his inner-city students, to preparing his students for a professional career, to building bridges for his Harbor Conservatory students with the Rye Arts Center and the Juilliard School, to creating a lasting love of the art of learning, Bertin’s presence enriched and inspired people’s lives.

The Scholarship was created in 1998 through the generous contribution of parents, students, friends, and associates with the goal of sustaining the signature of Bertin’s life for future generations of young performers.  It was established with a lead gift from long time friend and former college classmate, Jane Lindberg.  Bertin encouraged students to become “triple threats” performers skilled at acting, dancing and singing. The scholarship acknowledges the financial constraints of studying all three disciplines, and enables recipients to study music, dance and theater at The Conservatory on a full scholarship for one year.

Scholarship recipient Paloma Gratereaux has been training at Harbor Conservatory for six years in the Music, Dance and Theater Programs.  Last year, she auditioned for and joined the Theater Arts Program’s pre-professional musical theater company.  Paloma’s consistent hard work, limitless desire to learn, and steady growth have made her a top student at the Conservatory.  She has exhibited an ever-ready willingness to help her peers in group work, as well as eagerly met all individual challenges during her time here.  We look forward to her continued development as she becomes a leading member of the musical theater company, now called MT Kids.

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!

Virginia Herrera and Dominique Williams Interview

Dear Friends,

Several weeks ago I met with our Vocal Program Director Virginia Herrera and one of her students, Dominique Williams for an interview.  Virginia and Dominique recently performed together at a teacher-student concert presented at the Harbor.  I asked them about this and more in an enlightening interview covering the student/teacher relationship.

(M: Daniel, V: Virigina, D: Dominique)

M: My first question is for Virginia.  Tell me a little bit about your background and your vision for the vocal program.

V: I am from Mexico, and for as long as I can remember I have been studying music.  My parents were very supportive since they saw that as a child I was gifted.  They always encouraged me to go to conservatories and stuff like that.  I basically studied privately, with vocal instruction as a constant, along with a little bit of piano.  When I was sixteen we moved to another area of Mexico, and I studied at a conservatory.  One of the most important things that happened to me was one time when I entered a school I heard a sound; a tenor was singing.  So I followed the voice, and to my surprise this guy didn’t have a microphone!  So I thought “how can I hear him all the way at the entrance of the school?” And then I went to the directors office to audition and sing.  After I sang, the director told me if I wanted to go “pop” I was ready and could go.  Then he said “But you have the classical gift.  You can become something, do you know what opera is?” And I said “No, but I would like to learn how to sing without a microphone.”  And he told me that’s what opera is.  So I studied there for three years and then my parents helped me go to Italy. I studied opera in Rome for three years and then I came to the United States.  Now I have been here for 23 years, always singing as a soloist in churches, concerts, operas, Spanish styles, etc.  Then I started teaching by chance; my idea was never to be a teacher.  I was substituting for one of the teachers here, and after my first two lessons, they hired me as a part of the faculty.  Then 3 years ago, I became the head of the vocal department, I guess because of my ideas.  I am not afraid to do things and to be creative, and expose people to new ideas.

M: So do you think you brought any new ideas here that weren’t in place when you came?

V: I think so.  I think more than anything we have an idea… This is a great school I think.  It’s based, from what I’ve seen, in the roots of Latin American music.  But like anything, you have to go to the basics, and from there one can develop any style.   With the voice, if you are tight in your throat, you cannot create a good sound.  It’s the same as if you are a pianist and your hand is tight; you can never play any songs because you cannot move right?  So you have to be relaxed.  The tight hand is like the vocal chords trying to be forced.  So one of the things that I try to tell everybody is you don’t need to scream.  You can sing, let the air go by and anything will happen.  It’s like speaking.  Because speaking, producing a sound, is just breath passing through the vocal chords and making a sound.  Whether you sing or speak, that’s your choice.  And then on the styles, a lot of people are kind of intimidated because all of the singing teachers here are trained classically.  They think that we’re gonna be teaching them opera… no!  I’m gonna teach you how to understand your instrument, and then from there, you can do whatever you want.  I mean we have rappers, we have rock and roll guys, we have tex mex, like Pistolera performing all over the world, people who want to be in American Idol, people who are singing already in bars or karaoke, it doesn’t really matter.  As long as you understand that it is in a healthier way that we’re teaching them.  But of course my idea, my vision is to teach you to sing your style, lets say salsa, but then in the wedding of your niece, or the birthday of your grandmother, she will ask you to sing Ave Maria, and you’re able to do it in the right way.  That’s what we’re teaching here.  Another thing is the concerts, the exposure of the students.  Now we have several performances during the year, as opposed to when I came here it was one annual concert with all the musicians together.  Now we categorize more and we have specific vocal concerts.  Then we show them and expose them.  And I think they love it.  They are scared, but they love it! Ultimately, we are performers, we want to be performing.  And we want to be exposed to people, to be liked.  And to be in front of people, you have to have a certain ego that goes there.  And I don’t care how old you are, you know?

M: Absolutely.  So Dominique, how did you get involved singing here?

D: It happened maybe a year and a half or two ago.  The program downstairs, Genesis, they asked me to sing at a Kwanzaa program for the senior ed kids and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it but I decided I would.  So I sang Alicia Keye’s “A Woman’s Worth” there and I gotta say I was a little nervous.  Mr. Rodriguez saw some potential in me so he talked to my father and recommended I sign up for lessons here.  Then my dad and I came and met Virginia.  She asked who I was, what kind of music I liked and so on, so from then on I’ve been taking lessons here and it’s been going pretty well.

M: Great.  So have you performed anywhere?

D: Actually, over the summer my dad signed me up for a talent show where one of the former members of New Edition, was trying to find someone from 13-18 years old to give a record deal to. I was a little nervous.  The song that I picked was a Corrine Bailey Rae song “Like a Star”.  He said it wasn’t me that didn’t get through the competition, it was the song.  But regardless, it was a good experience.

M: So do you have a specific style that you’re focusing on?

D: Mostly I like a lot of R&B, but I do listen to my fare share of pop music, some rock music.

M: That’s what you like to perform?

D: Yeah, my favorite is Christina Aguilera.  I really like her because she can control her voice so well, and it’s so powerful! It’s just out there.  Usually when I go home I play a song by her or one of my other favorite artists and just sing it.  There was one song that she sang called Soar, and there was a note that she sang that was really high and I wanted to see if I could do it.  And then I did and I was like “Wow”!  And I didn’t think I could hit that note before I started lessons.

M: Virginia, this question is for you.  Two weeks ago you held a student-teacher performance where the students actually performed with their teachers.  Tell us about this, where you came up with the idea, how you chose the students to perform, etc?

V: Yeah, well the idea came because basically the parents of the students don’t really know who the teachers are.  You know, the students come on a one to one basis for 45 minutes and then they go and we don’t see them until next week.  Of course the relationship between the student and the teacher is very close because you are analyzing them and going through there emotional state every time they come into the classroom, so you have to kind of manage the student’s psyche.  So for me it was very important to let the students feel the support of the teacher, how much we believe in them, and encourage them to perform at a higher level.  And the other thing is for the parents, for the families, for the friends, to understand that even if the students don’t want to become opera singers, they will come out as well trained singers.  So the idea came up because I wanted to encourage them to realize they have the ability to be as good as their teachers, who they seem to and we hope they admire.  What happened was amazing.  The choosing of the students who were singing was basically the better prepared and more consistent students.  It was a challenge.  The pieces that we chose, even though they were kind of simple for some, for others were a challenge.  I will never put my student in a position to perform something I know she can not.  But I know my students.  So Dominique and I have been working on Pie Jesu, a duet from Requieum by Andrew Lloyd Webber, which basically was a real duet because we were doing harmonies.  And she showed how much she has learned through the process.  I think everybody loved it because it was unexpected, and a beautiful piece.  The challenge here was Dominique was holding the melody, and it was very high.  I was doing harmonies the whole time, so for her there was nothing that she could support herself or base her sound off of.  It was a big challenge because she was totally exposed.  She did a wonderful job, showed how much she has learned and how secure she has become.  And that again comes because of the numerous concerts and performances we expose the students to.  And another thing is, the bar was raised.  The students see the teachers with admiration (we hope), and it’s not the same when you’re just telling the student what to do as when you’re really performing together.  And I think she felt challenged, which is great.  I think it was a great, great idea, and we will repeat that in April.

M: That’s awesome!  Dominique, how did you feel about that piece?

D: It felt great!  I told her I wanted to show what I had been learning, and the way the student teacher concert was described was to show what we had been learning with our teachers.  Virginia said “yes, we’re going to do well with the song”, and we did even better than I thought and it’s just like “Wow”.

V: The beautiful thing is also seeing the reaction of others.  First of all, I know what she can do.  You see a student, you see the potential they have.  She’s my student, and with her I was doing the duet.  But basically the whole concert, all the other students that were challenged with their teachers did a wonderful job.  So we have seen the students grow, and it was a great thing for all of us.  Also for them to say “Ok if I am able to do this with a real performer, then what else can I do?”  And it was for everybody in the audience; very surprising, very enlightening, it was like “Woah, we didn’t know this” and for me I felt so proud of Dominique.  I haven’t met her mother before and despite the fact she has performed several concerts for us, I only know her father.  This was the first time I saw her mother and you should have seen the face on that woman. She said “I didn’t know that my child could sing like that!”  Sometimes it is very difficult because the parents have an idea of who their children are and the students also have an idea of themselves that basically the only time you can really really know what you are capable of is by performing.  Because I have an idea of you sitting here and chatting in jeans, but that is very different than being in concert form.  And Dominique looked lovely.  And that’s another thing I have been encouraging everybody here to understand that the way we dress, the image we give to others for concerts is very important.  After the concert, wear jeans it doesn’t matter!  But not for the performance.  We want to hear you, we want to see that you’re appearance matches your voice, we want to focus.  She was dressed beautifully, it matched her beauty outside with the beauty that was coming from her singing.  It was a very nice day,  I think the parents really liked it.

M: Sounds like it went great.  So you said there will be another one in April, correct?

V: Oh absolutely, now that I’ve done it and it went so well, we will definitely have this twice a year.

M: So Dominique, it sounds like you really enjoy the program here.  If you were to describe the program to a friend who might want to study here, would you encourage them to join, and what would you tell them?

D: I would encourage them to come.  I would tell them it’s a very good experience, you learn to improve your voice, and gain exposure through all the performances we do here.  So if you wanted to go to American Idol, or Broadway or Carnegie Hall you’ll be ready for that exposure except the crowd will be larger.  But you’ll know what to expect so you won’t feel that nervous feeling as you go on stage.  It’s a really good experience and it’s really good training for your voice.

M: Great.  Virginia, any last words you want to impart on the readers of this interview?

V: First of all, I’m very honored to be interviewed and thank you for the distinction.  As I said, I never thought I would be teaching, my life was going to be that of a singer.  But I have learned if you think a teacher is good, it’s not because of him or her.  It’s because of the student.  The student is the one who makes you shine.  I’m very strict and disciplined and I challenge them with that.  I want everybody to understand that if you’re able to speak, which is producing a sound, then you’re able to sing.  The difference is that you hold the air for a longer time, and that’s it.  Of course I want everybody to come study at the Harbor, to do it for the period of time they need to be.  Students come and go, we have kids that are going to high school, Dominique will be leaving us soon!  And that’s what we want, we don’t want you to come, and feel trapped in these four walls.  That’s not the kind of teaching we do here.  I am giving you the tools, now go on.  Go on and make yourself proud, don’t make me proud.  I am proud already.  Make yourself grow and be useful and encourage others to do the same.  Of course I want everybody to come to the Harbor, I think it’s a great program they have here for all the instruments.  This place is a great start to fulfill any purpose you like in music.  I want people to understand that music is not only salsa, only opera, only that style.  No, no no no.  In vocal instruction, we’re giving you the tools to do anything you want.  As long as you know how to breathe correctly, know the positions and the postures, then you can do ANYTHING you want!  Opening the mind of people that think you can only learn one thing, no no no!  Life is a rainbow of choices, with a good tool you can do anything you want.

Virginia Herrera’s Website:

Gustavo Casenave Interview

Hello friends,

This week I interviewed the new Director of our Jazz Program, Gustavo Casenave.  Mr. Casenave joined the Conservatory’s faculty in 1997 teaching composition and Latin Jazz piano. Over the course of 20 years as an educator, he has lectured and conducted Master Classes and workshops at numerous prestigious institutions.  As a performer, he has played all over the world in a variety of different settings,  presenting his music with his different Tango, Jazz, and Chamber ensembles.  He has worked as Musical Director, Pianist, Composer, Producer and Arranger.  Here is the transcript from our discussion.

(D: Daniel, G: Gustavo)

D: Gustavo, my first question is: I was looking at your bio and I saw that you have traveled and played music all over the world.  So I was wondering how you ended up… here?  How you ended up a teacher at the Conservatory and how you became the director of the jazz program?

G: Well basically, I went to Berklee.  First of all, I’m from Uruguay.  I studied music there; I studied composition, I studied jazz, a little bit of everything. But in Uruguay there are not so many opportunities and I wanted to study more.  So I got a scholarship from the Organization of American States and I went to study at Berklee.  When I graduated from Berklee I said “hey, what do I do now?” So you know how it’s Boston and New York for Jazz?  Like, you go to Boston thinking that will be the place and then when you’re there, you realize that’s not the place.  And I guess I did the same thing many jazz musicians do, I went to Berklee.  When I was looking online for where to go, that was in 1994, it seemed like Berklee was the place, and then once I was there I was saying, “Is this really the place?”  So it turned out New York, there were more opportunities.  So I started mailing every college, University, and everywhere looking just to teach somewhere so I could get a job to move here.  Of course I was touring and playing, but you know as a musician but I wanted a teaching job.  So I sent letters, and there’s a funny story with Robert Blumenthal, who was the jazz director here, my very good friend.  It’s a funny story because you know he got my letter and he was reading that I was a jazz pianist from Uruguay and at the same time he was reading my letter the phone rang.  So he picked up the phone and said “Ah yes, you’re a jazz pianist, you’re from Uruguay, ah you studied at Berklee” and the other guy answered “No” so Rob said “What do you mean? I have your letter”.  “What letter?”  So what happened was at the same moment he was reading my letter a jazz pianist from Uruguay called and his last name was Casenova and my last name is Casenave.  So you know it was a really weird thing, and actually after that Mr. Casenova ended up being my student years later.  And he was a jazz pianist from Uruguay calling at the same time. Rob had never heard of anybody from Uruguay, we are a very, very small country.  Only 3 million people in the whole country.  I guess it was meant to be, I guess he said “Ok I have to call this other guy”.  So he called me, that was late in ’97 and I came here for teaching, took the job, and I’ve been teaching here for 11 years.

D: Wow.  When did it become apparent that you were going to take over the jazz program?

G: Well Ramon offered me the position about three years ago and actually I didn’t take it because I was touring a lot and as a touring musician, with gigs everything I thought it wasn’t the right time to do it.  And now, it is the right time because I expanded my family and I have a four moth old baby, actually she is five months old today.  And you know, things change. I want to start touring less so I can be home, and be more steady here.  It’s really crazy to be a touring musician, it’s crazy.  With my first daughter, she’s six now, I had that experience.  For almost two years I was touring non stop; touring two months, then coming back home for two weeks.  And I was missing a lot of the changes with my daughter, and I had that experience and this time I think it’s time to start settling.  I’m of course glad to keep playing concerts and touring but, not so much.

D: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.  My next question is when did you first start playing music, and when did you realize that was what you wanted to do with your life?

G: I started playing when my father bought the piano when I was 6, and you know we were five kids, I have two brothers and two sisters. The piano arrived and we’re kids so everyone on the piano playing together for the first day.  The second day, we were four playing the piano.  The third day, we were just three of us.  And three weeks later, it was just me… until now.  And yeah, that’s the only thing I ever did in my life, was just play the piano, and teach.  Well, anything related to music, you know.   But that’s how it started, and I decided I was going to spend my life doing music at 13.   When I was 13 I realized “what do I do?” So I started putting my band together, and I started classical piano.  First I started classical piano, and still practice until today.  But when I was 13 I said “Ok this is it for me, I cannot do anything else but play music” and that’s what I did.  You know, playing music, I did a lot of different stuff, like music for movies.  I played all different kinds of music.  I played classical concerts, I played punk music, on electric guitar when I was 13, distortion, heavy metal, reggae, jazz, pop, a little bit of everything.  I think music is one whole thing and yeah you have different styles but… music is the same.

D: Agreed… that’s great.  So, what have you specifically found challenging about being a teacher and working with students of different ages?

G: What do I find challenging? Hmm.  Well I guess in teaching I am very confident, when I teach I know exactly what I want to do, I am very specific.  So I do not find that challenging, not the teaching process because I’ve been teaching for many, many, many years so somehow I’ve found a way to explain to the students and get them to learn.  And the way is very simple; I’m a student myself so I sit on the other side.  I’m a student so I think “how would I want the teacher to explain this to me”?  So I try to give them a very specific way to go, perhaps before it was a little challenging but now it’s become habit and I know how to work towards that.  For me, the most challenging thing is to teach my daughter.  I try that, and it’s almost impossible.  She definitely has to go with another teacher.  Father child is never the same as teacher student.  So that’s the most challenging thing.  And I guess also teaching children, that’s a different story also, and that’s challenging.  It implies a whole other psychological and other skills that I did study at Berkeley, but that’s challenging, not the material itself but to deal with the children, to understand, that’s a different chapter.

D: Are you currently playing with any groups or bands in New York?

G: I’m playing with several groups and of course I have my trio, a jazz trio.  I’m very active in three fields; in jazz with different groups, they call me for sessions or recordings.  But steady, in the jazz group I play is basically with my band, I try to promote my music, it’s very hard to get do that.  I do a lot of solo piano also, I’m going to Puerto Rico now for a week of solo concerts.  And my other big thing that I do is tango.  I play in almost every major tango show that appears in the US because there are not so many tango musicians, so there’s a lot of work with that.  I direct many of the shows and I play as a pianist in Tango Fire, Forever Tango, Eternal Tango, Tango Connection, any kind of tango.  And now I also have a painting tango, that’s a show that I do with my wife who’s a painter and she paints live on stage and we do it with dancers, and I play with my tango ensemble, everything together on one stage.  And we have one big date coming, March 20th of next year at NYU and that’s called “Tango Casenave”.  This relates to my next field, which is composition.  I basically compose jazz tango and contemporary composition.  With this tango ensemble what I do is I write my own tangos, and it’ s tango show of only original music, which is very unusual music nowadays because every tango show is like the jazz standards, you have the tango standards, they always play the same thing.  So I’m trying to change that.  And I do my own music at tango shows, only Tango Casenave.  As a composer, I mainly write in three styles.  I do tangos, I do jazz, and I do contemporary classical music.  And I write string quartets, large ensembles, chamber music, and piano solo music I have a huge book for piano solo music.

D: Always writing eh?

G: Yeah, I’m always writing.  That’s basically what it is.

D: What do you like to do when you aren’t playing music?

G: What do I like to do?  To play with my daughters… and to be with my wife.  Basically the time I’m not thinking about music… no I’m always thinking about music.  It’s very hard you know I try to grab minutes and seconds for thinking of music and trying to develop something from wherever I can.  Even when I go to the bathroom, I take a book or something.  I cannot waste one second.  Oh, and I like surfing.  That’s the other thing I like.  But it’s hard to do, I have to go Long Island, it takes two hours… but I surf all my life.  So that’s one other thing.  Probably the only thing apart from music and my family that I really enjoy.  When I go on tour in Puerto Rico, I surf the whole day, and I play the whole night.  Not a bad combination eh?

D: Not bad at all.  Last question: any parting words you have for our readers?

G: Any last words? Yes. My last words are that there is a new program here at the Harbor.  There are some courses that were not taught here before.  A whole new program that I put together that was not here before; ensembles, arranging and composition courses, and that’s a new thing here, and they have to really take advantage of this.  The courses are at a very low cost of $15 per class, per time you come, and that’s really something new.  I think it will be really great.  There will be new ensembles, and I want to use this opportunity to explain the program.  Basically, the new stuff, there will continue to be ensembles like there were before, but now there are also different kinds of ensembles.  We have a student composition ensemble which is basically a writing course where we do compositions for each student, and the complementary course for this would be an ensemble where we perform the stuff that we create in the writing course.  Meaning a student comes here, writes something, goes to the ensemble and actually plays, we do a recording and listen to see how it actually works.  There are different styles, different levels, beginner, intermediate, advanced.  We offer it with different types of jazz also.  We also have a new course, introduction to tango, which is probably the first course offered anywhere, in any music school, where we teach tango formally.  So we are probably the first one’s to teach a writing course, with performance, teaching tango.  In composition, there will be a big band also.  The main thing is the opportunity to be in a jazz environment but also get together with the other departments, like Latin and classical music.  So when they come here they get a little bit of everything.  And even if they are only jazz musicians they can get in touch with people and start playing with people in the Latin programs and you start getting that mix.  And at the end jazz is for improvisation and this is obviously the jazz department, but I’d call it the jazz and improvisation department because what we study mostly is not only the jazz style; I focus on jazz because it gives us the freedom to improvise and to create your own voice even with the different  fusions of jazz with different cultures, with Latin, with Arabic, with any kind of jazz.  Really, if you check in jazz there are so many people from different parts of the world and you take elements from that and create this kind of world music that’s related to jazz.  So I think the focus of this program is more towards that, it’s more open.  It has all the traditional jazz studies but not only that.  It offers that fusion with all the cultures.  And it gives real opportunity to international students or anyone from different parts of the world to come with something of their own and learn the tools of improvisation so they can get something on their own with their own voice.  So that’s my vision of where to take the jazz department.


Fall Registration Newsletter!

Hello friends,

It is now September and the fall/winter semester at the Harbor Conservatory is almost upon us.  Registration and auditions for classes begin very shortly!  General registration begins September 8th and runs through October 31st.

Registration 2009

Without further ado, here is a rundown of everything coming up this fall at the Conservatory!

Dance Program Auditions


Auditions are being held for our LEAP Dance Program Friday, September 18th at 4:00 PM.  LEAP is designed for dance students ages 11 to 13, who are focused on applying to specialized high school dance programs. Applying students must have at least three years previous dance training. The LEAP Dance Program is a partial scholarship opportunity with a curriculum that includes: 4 hours of weekly dance training in Ballet and Modern, 1 hour of weekly training in Jazz or African Dance, audition preparation through practice auditions, quarterly progress evaluations from instructors, and counseling sessions designed to help students concentrate on specific areas of their individual technical development. LEAP classes are held on Fridays from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm and on Saturday throughout the day.  To register for the audition, please call Naomi Shimashita at 212/427-2244 ext. 553 or Nina Klyvert-Lawson at 212/427-2244 ext. 570.


Auditions for GESTURES will take place Friday, October 2nd at 4:30 PM.
GESTURES, now celebrating its 20 anniversary, is the pre-professional resident dance company of Harbor Conservatory. The ensemble is a performance workshop for students, ages 13 to 19. Five years of technical training is required in order to audition. Acceptance into the Gestures Dance Ensemble gives a serious dance student the opportunity to experience what it is like to be in a professional company. From challenging rehearsals to fully produced public performances. This is an intense, accelerated program. Only those with strong commitment and desire to pursue rigorous dance training need apply. Modeled after a professional company, ensemble members are required to attend: -weekly 3 hour rehearsals, participate in a full performance schedule and training includes: Ballet, Jazz, Pointe Variations, Choreography and working with noted professional choreographers. Gestures has performed at the Papal Youth Rally, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Central Park SummerStage, Dances at Wave Hill, Aaron Davis Hall, HOSTOS Center for Arts and Culture and The Ailey Citigroup Theater.  To arrange to audition please call Naomi Shimashita at extension 553 or Nina Klyvert-Lawson at 212/427-2244 ext. 570.

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Theater Arts Auditions

Auditions for this fall’s Theater Arts Program at the Harbor Conservatory are Saturday, September 26th. Auditions for the Musical Theater Production are from 10AM-1PM, while auditions for the Theater Repertory Company are from 3-7PM. Please contact Program Coordinator Michael Awusie for more information at 212-427-2244 ext. 558.

theater arts description 2009

Apart from registration, there is some exciting unrelated news at the Conservatory.  Harbor Conservatory is pleased to announce that its Jazz Program is now under the direction of pianist and composer, Gustavo Casenave. Mr. Casenave joined the Conservatory’s faculty in 1997 teaching composition and Latin Jazz piano. Over the course of 20 years as an educator, he has lectured and conducted Master Classes and workshops at such prestigious institutions as The Juilliard School, New York University, Yale University, Berklee School of Music, University of Florida, University of Uruguay, Waldorf Schule in Austria, and Klagenfurt Music Conservatory also in Austria.

Gustavo Casenave Pic

Finally, Classical Music Director Martin Soderberg has been invited by the Tian Jin University in China to perform recitals of Spanish Music and conduct a series of lectures on Spanish Piano Music from October 10th to 17th.  This will be Martin’s first trip to China.  Best of luck to him on his adventures!

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Check back tomorrow for a new “Did You Know” and Friday for an interview with new jazz program Director Gustavo Casenave.

Until then,

Daniel Schwartz                                                                                   Special Projects Coordinator

Did you know?

Did you know…

Conservatory Director Ramon Rodriguez was a child musical
prodigy, who began his piano studies at age 4.

Ramon Nina and Others

Summer Newsletter

This summer at the Harbor has already been action packed, and it’s not even half over yet!  To kick the summer off, more than 175 people gathered on June 15th at the Ailey Citigroup Theater at the Joan Weill Center for Dance to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Harbor Conservatory’s GESTURES Dance Ensemble, established by Artistic Director Nina Klyvert-Lawson. Both GESTURES and Klyvert-Lawson received official letters from New York’s Governor David Paterson, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, congratulating Klyvert-Lawson and the company on 20 years of enriching New York’s cultural life. This was followed by the ensemble receiving “glowing” reviews by both Dance Teacher Magazine Associate Editor Tracy Krisanits and METRO US noted Dance journalist, Elizabeth Zimmer.

This summer the Harbor has provided several camps for aspiring musicians and actors. Our classical music summer camp, run by classical music director Martin Soderberg, was held from July 6th to the 17th.  Daily classes were held in Piano, Violin, Voice, Duets, Music Appreciation, Rhythm and Theory.  There was also a special visit from Ubaldo Diaz Acosta (Professor at the Manhattan School of Music and Director of the Juliet Music Center), who offered a master class to camp students.  Students who performed for Mr. Diaz Acosta included Mia Stevens, Aida Ortega, Jeremiah Castro, Quitze Eguigure, Concepcion Arellano and Antonio Lee.  A final concert took place on Friday, July 17th, 2009.

Our most recent camp was the Musical Theater Summer Intensive, which ran from July 13-24.  The camp was a crash course for students new to Musical Theater, and concluded with a performance by the students on July 24.  This year the instructors were Darrell Moultrie (Director/Voice), Natrea Blake (Hip Hop/Dance), Amy Hall (Tap/Dance), and Michael Awusie (Acting/Stage Manager).  Each day consisted of a rigorous regimen of acting instruction, voice instruction, dance instruction, and rehearsal for the end of camp performance.


Welcome to the Harbor Conservatory’s Blog!  In the very near future, this blog will become a forum for  up to date information on the Conservatory and will become another way you can interact and remain connected with us.  Stay Tuned!

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