SUMMER MUSIC SEMESTER

HARBOR CONSERVATORY FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
SUMMER MUSIC SEMESTER
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.

El Barrio Week 2011

EL BARRIO WEEK – JUNE 1-14, 2011
#EBWeek (Twitter)
JOIN LOCAL ARTS AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATIONS EATERIES IN EL BARRIO AS WE KICK OFF SUMMER WITH 14 DAYS OF
FUN, FLAVOR, ART, TRADITION AND CULTURE!
Full Schedule of Events:
6/1-5: East Harlem International Film Festival, Various Events. Fees vary.
6/1 –  Camaradas’ “Way Back Wednesday” – w/ DJ G-Bo The Pro spinning classic 70s-90s disco, freestyle, rap, house, salsa, merengue, and hip hop.
6/2 – Camaradas’ “Ritmo y Tumbao” – “La Descarga” Latin House Party w/ DJs Cuba, Ron Zilla, and Dres.
6/3 – 6-9 pm Taller Boricua’s opening reception for BARRI-O-RAMA!  On display from 6/3-7/16 at Taller Boricua Galleries, 1680 Lexington Avenue, “BARRI-O-RAMA” is a group exhibition Incorporating interactive and site-specific video, photography and mixed media installations. “BARRI-O-RAMA” celebrates the community of East Harlem and explores socio-political issues within the neighborhood. Featuring artists Nayda Collazo-Llorens, Rosalinda González, Johnny Ramos, Hatuey Ramos Fermín, Emcee C.M., Master of None and Marna Chester. http://www.tallerboricua.org
6/3 – 7-9 pm Poetry Unleashed! Spoken Word Performances:  9-11 pm, Music and Dancing. AFC Gallery: 1699 Lexington Ave (btwn. 106th & 107th St.) Basement Level – Poetry Unleashed: Voices of the Economy, drawing on the artistic wealth of our communities by highlighting voices of individuals.  Free.
6/4/11, 5 pm / Rain Date 6/5/11, 5 pm – Public art intervention, artist Zachary Fabri. Sponsored by Harlem Biennale. 105th Street and Lexington Avenue, North West corner.  Mirroring a human pin on a map of Harlem with a global positioning system inherent to the practice of the nomadic artist, Fabri’s intervention takes place on an iconic sidewalk of El Barrio. Fabri is one of the featured artists of HB2012, and this work is presented in association with Taller Boricua Cultural Center and Residency Unlimited. Free.
6/4 – 11:30 – 1 pm – El Museo Walking Tour of El Barrio. RSVP required: 212-831-7272. Free.
6/4 – 1:30-3:30pm, open to ages 4-12 – REFLECTIVE MOSAICS! LEARN THE ART OF MOSAIC WITH GUEST TEACHING ARTIST HAYAT GUL! AFC Gallery: 1699 Lexington Ave (btwn. 106th & 107th St.) Basement Level
Children will work with artist Hayat Gul to create their own mini-mosaics to take home using Mylar®, while learning some cultural history of the mosaic art form and learning art-making techniques of reverse painting on a transparent surface. Reflective plastic Mylar® sheets are enjoyable for children to experience painting on a surface other than paper or canvas. Fun for the whole family! Free.
6/6/11 – Camaradas El Barrio – DJ Bobbito Garcia a.k.a. Kool Bob Love
6/6/11 – 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm Harbor Latin Big Band, Musical Director  – Louis Bauzó
Open Rehearsal, Heckscher Building, 1 East 104 Street, Studio, B-21.  The Harbor Latin Big Band, under the direction of Louis Bauzó, is dedicated to preserving the New York sound and style of the golden age of Latin music.  Paying tribute to Frank “Machito” Grillo, Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez, Eddie Palmieri, Johnny Pacheco, Ray Barretto, Larry Harlow and other musical pioneers and innovators. Free.
6/6/11 – 6/7/11: El Barrio Eats! Participating restaurants offer art, music and exciting drink and food specials, including CREOLE RESTAURANT @ 2167 3rd  Avenue, DON PEDROS @ 1865 2nd  Avenue, La Fonda @ EAST 106th  STREET, BTW. LEX. & 3rd  Ave, CAMARADAS EL BARRIO @ 2241 1st  Avenue,  GRAN PIATTO D’ORO @ 1429 5th Avenue, AGUA FRESCA @ 207 East 117th Street, EL AGUILA @ 137 E. 116th STREET, MAKANA @ 2245 1st Avenue, El PASO TAQUERIA

6/7/11, 5 –7 pm: El Barrio Eats! Cooking demonstration and tasting @ La Marqueta by Creole, Agua Fresca and La Fonda. Free.

6/8 – 6/10/11, 5-7 pm: El Barrio Eats! Happy hour drink specials at participating restaurants.
6/8/11 6-9 pm: Wepa Wednesday at El Museo del Barrio – Free Evening Walking Tour of El Barrio, extended Gallery hours, live DJ-in-residence, and drink specials. RSVP: 212.831.7272 http://www.elmuseo.org
6/8/11:  6:30-11pm Salsa Wednesdays at Taller Boricua. Salsa Dance Party. Drink specials and admission.
http://www.tallerboricua.org
6/8/11: Camaradas’ Way Back Wednesday – DJ G-Bo The Pro spinning classic 70s-90s disco, freestyle, rap, house, salsa, merengue, and hip hop.
6/9/11, 5-8 pm: Enjoy local restaurant food tastings, a show by talented emerging artists, and El Barrio musical stylings at Modesto Flores Garden’s summer kick-off event! Free.
6/9: Camaradas’ “Ritmo y Tumbao” – Ritmo Y Tumbao “La Descarga” Latin House Party w/ DJs Cuba, Ron Zilla, and Dres.
6/10/11, 5-8 pm:  Mural unveiling. Come see the beautiful, moving new work “Soladeras” by El Barrio muralist Yasmine Hernandez as it’s revealed for the first time! Music, food and dancing at an art-driven, energetic block party! Free.
6/11/11 11:30 am – 1pm. El Museo Walking Tour of El Barrio – Free. RSVP required @ 212-831-7272
6/11/11, 12 noon – 5 p.m. 116th Street Festival. Celebrate 26 years of music, food and fun! Free.
6/12/11, 11 a.m. Puerto Rican Day Parade. Free. Fifth Ave. @ 44th Street – Fifth Ave. @ 79th St.
6/13/11, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm – Harbor Latin Big Band, Musical Director Louis Bauzó
Open Rehearsal, Heckscher Building, 1 East 104 Street, Studio, B-21.  The Harbor Latin Big Band, under the direction of Louis Bauzó, is dedicated to preserving the New York sound and style of the golden age of Latin music.  Paying tribute to Frank “Machito” Grillo, Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez, Eddie Palmieri, Johnny Pacheco, Ray Barretto, Larry Harlow and other musical pioneers and innovators. Free.
6/14/11, 6-9 pm: Museum Mile Festival. Free. Annual traffic-free, music and art-filled fiesta on Fifth Avenue, from 105th to 82nd Street. Art-making workshops, side walk chalk drawing, and Salsa and Bogaloo from East Harlem!  http://www.museummilefestival.org
For more information and a full list of events and promotions, please visit http://www.elbarriotoday.org

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK: WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/ELBARRIOTODAY AND FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @ELBARRIOTODAY
El Barrio Today Arts Cluster is comprised of local organizations that have joined forces to raise awareness about the cultural richness of the area. Come visit us in El Barrio and taste, shop, and explore all we have to offer. ¡Bienvenidos!
Lead partners: El Museo del Barrio, Hope Community, Inc., and Upper Manhattan Development Corporation. With support from: New York City Economic Development Corporation, Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation, and Deutsche Bank.
Special Thanks to our Community Partners: East Harlem Business Capital Corporation, East Harlem Restaurant and Bar Association, Harlem Arts Alliance, Harlem One Stop, La Casa De La Herencia Cultural Puertorriqueña, MediaNoche Digital Gallery, NY Restoration Project, PR Dream, Harlem Biennale and Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Art, Boys & Girls Harbor.

Become a Latin Music Master

LEARN TO PLAY LATIN MUSIC FROM A PRO
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 http://www.harborconservatory.org  For more information you may call us at 212/427-2244 ext. 573.

21st Annual Competition for the CHARLIE PALMIERI MEMORIAL PIANO SCHOLARSHIP

Dear Friends:

HARBOR CONSERVATORY FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS is pleased to announces the Twenty First Annual competition for the CHARLIE PALMIERI MEMORIAL PIANO SCHOLARSHIP established by Tito Puente.  The competition is scheduled for Saturday, February 19, 2011 from 12:00 pm until 2:00 pm at the Harbor Conservatory located at One East 104th Street in Manhattan .  For applications and guidelines and to schedule an audition, call (212) 427-2244 Ext. 557.

Serving as competition jurors are pianists Sonny Bravo, Pablo Mayor , and Gustavo Casenave.

The Charlie Palmieri Memorial Piano Scholarship is awarded to intermediate and advanced pianists ages 12-25 for the study of Latin style piano.  Applicants must demonstrate their talents in Classical and/or Popular Latin styles. The winner will receive one year’s training free of charge at Harbor Conservatory with one of our specialists in the field of Latin piano. The Scholarship in memory of Charlie Palmieri was established by Tito Puente to further the inspirational musicianship of the great pianist.  In style, versatility and instrumental virtuosity, bandleader/pianist/arranger Charlie Palmieri had few equals. In addition to recording, arranging and performing he taught music and Puerto Rican history in the CUNY system.  The late great Tito Puente, the “King of Latin music”, master timbalero, arranger, composer, and bandleader, also cared deeply about education for young students and the need for youngsters to continue and/or begin their musical studies, as well as to reaffirm pride in Hispanic culture.

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.  Profiled in People Magazine, New York Times, Daily News and on Channel 13 in the documentary, “Mi Mambo!”; the Conservatory’s Latin Music program has been a recipient of the Tito Puente Scholarship Fund, Celia Cruz Foundation, Johnny Pacheco Scholarship Fund, Carlos Santana’s Milagro Foundation, Phish Fan’s Mockingbird Foundation, D’Addario Music Foundation and the NAMM Foundation.

Hope to See You There!

Book Signing for “Mambo Diablo My Journey with Tito Puente” by Joe Conzo & David A. Perez

Dear Friends:

Harbor Conservatory and the Raices Latin Music Museum are pleased to host a book signing on February 14th a 7:00 pm celebrating the historic release of “Mambo Diablo My Journey with Tito Puente, written by Joe Conzo with David A. Perez.  The event will be held at the Harbor, the “Home of Latin Music” located at One East 104th Street and Fifth Avenue in Fifth Avenue , Third Floor Theater.  Here’s an opportunity to purchase this in depth look at the genius of East Harlem’s most famous son—Tito Puente, and have it signed by the man who knew the King best—Joe Conzo.

Adding to the excitement, will be the performance of several noted Puente tunes presented by the Harbor Latin Big Band under the direction of Louis Bauzo, one time member of the Tito Puente Orchestra.  In recognition of the Harbor Conservatory’s commitment to maintain Tito’s legacy through its Tito Puente Scholarship Fund, Latin Percussion will present the school with a set of Tito Puente signature timbales.

Joe Conzo and David A. Perez luminously recreate the life of widely acclaimed Afro-Cuban and jazz musician Tito Puente in the biography “Mambo Diablo – My Journey with Tito Puente.” The authors chronicle the life of the popular and combative New York Puerto Rican multi talented musician and entertainer who climbed from his poor environment in East Harlem (El Barrio), New York to international fame and recognition.Mambo Diablo My Journey with Tito Puente Cover Image.

Countless stories have been written about Tito Puente’s percussive musical abilities, but rarely has the talent, intuition, mishaps and controversies been presented in a vivid and personal biography. Joe Conzo was Tito’s close friend, confidant and chronicler for nearly 40 years – no one was closer to Tito or knew him better, not even his family. Joe tells the story of a man and his music the way it has never been told. David A. Perez sets down Joe’s personal recollections and fits them into the context of the social milieu and revolving world.Joe Conzo was Tito Puente’s publicist, confidant and archivist for close to 40 years. He maintains perhaps one of the largest recorded and non-recorded music collections that include works of Tito Puente and many others. From 1980 – 2002, he was the Chairman for the Tito Puente Scholarship Fund, producing numerous fundraising concerts and dances featuring such artists as Celia Cruz, Ray Barretto, Charlie and Eddie Palmieri, Art Blakely, Max Roach and others. He is a much in demand lecturer on the History of Latin Music and is considered the foremost expert on the life and music of Tito Puente, having spoken at Yale University , SUNY at Buffalo , New School for Social Research, among other institutions of Higher Learning. He served as a consultant on such projects as the Latin Tinge on WNET, with Beverly Sills, the naming of a US postage stamp honoring Tito Puente and served as compilation producer and writer of liner notes for countless recordings and CDs.  He is currently the Director of the Tito Puente Legacy Project at Hostos Community College .

DAVID A. PEREZ – is a former political and sports writer of the San Juan STAR in Puerto Rico . He also worked as a journalist in Washington , DC . David is a retired lottery industry executive. He is a published author and is an historical researcher of Cuban charanga music (violins, flutes and rhythm) and the “habanera” the foundation of Cuban danzón, ragtime, Argentine tango, Puerto Rican danza and other South, Central American and Caribbean music. He has an extensive collection of music – Afro-Cuban, jazz, theater and classical. He plays the flute (including the wooden unadorned six-hole, five key flute used by authentic charanga orchestras).

Mambo Diablo – My Journey with Tito Puente is now available at Borders, Barnes & Nobles and Amazon.com.  For additional information please contact Joe Conzo at 845/313-3621

Celebrating Tito Puente

Dear Friends,

It’s been almost 10 years since the passing of one our country’s greatest multi talented musicians, the great El Rey—Tito Puente, but his music and memory are being kept alive by Joe Conzo, Sr., Ramon Rodriguez, Director of Harbor Conservatory’s Latin Music Program and Codigo Records with their new release of the complete Tito Puente TICO 78s and Tito Puente El Rey. To learn more about the maestro’s enduring love for Harbor Conservatory– the leading school for Latin Music and his great friend Joe Conzo’s memories of the man behind the music as told in his upcoming book “Mambo Diablo My Journey with Tito Puente”, and the new Codigo release– set your television sets for WABC Channel 7’s “Tiempo” scheduled for November 21st at 11:30 am.  Hosted by Joe Torres, “Tiempo” is a weekly round-table discussion show about topics affecting and relating to Hispanic citizens.

A master timbalero, arranger, composer, bandleader, and proud son of East Harlem, Tito Puente cared deeply about education for young students and the need for youngsters to continue and/or begin their musical studies, as well as to reaffirm pride in Hispanic culture. Up until his death in 2000, The Conservatory was an annual recipient of Mr. Puente’s own scholarship Fund, and with permission from the Puente family we have continued the scholarship in his memory. The Tito Puente Scholarship Fund provides support for Latin percussion students as well as piano students through the Charlie Palmieri Memorial Scholarship which was established by Mr. Puente at the Harbor almost twenty years ago.

Nina Gale Olson
Senior Portfolio Manager

Celebrate Tito Puente with the Harbor Conservatory Latin Big Band

Dear Friends,

Join us on November 6, 2010 at 6:30 p.m. for a special concert produced by Joe Conzo celebrating the music of the late Tito Puente, the legendary composer and bandleader — one of the greatest figures in the history of Latin Jazz and Mambo. Louis Bauzó, a former member of the Tito Puente Orchestra, leads the Harbor Conservatory Latin Big Band in this thrilling concert honoring “The King of Latin Music” with special guest musician Ronnie Puente, Tito Puente’s eldest son, who continues his father’s musical legacy on percussion, bass, and saxophone. Adding to the excitement is a sizzling Salsa Dance performance. Celebrating Tito is a complement to the New York Historical Society’s current exhibition at El Museo del Barrio, Nueva York 1613-1945.

The Concert will be held at the New York Society for Ethical Culture at 2 West 64th Street at Central Park West. Full Price Ticket (Non-Members): $20.00, Member Cost: $10.00. Tickets for this program are sold through SmartTix, and can be ordered online at www.smarttix.com or by phone please call at 212-868-4444. The SmartTix Call Center is open 9am-8pm Monday through Friday, 10am-8pm Saturday and 10am-6pm Sunday. For more information on programs, please call the N-YHS Public Programs Department at 212-485-9205.

Nina Gale Olson
Director of External Affairs

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

Ed Morand Interview

Dear Friends,

I recently interviewed adult music student Ed Morand.  From his previous career in musical theater to finding Latin music years later, Ed had some fascinating insight on music, and how it has affected his life.

(D: Daniel, E: Ed)

D: Ed, according to your background you had a brief career in musical theater and dance. Care to elaborate on this?

E: Well what’s funny is I had access to music growing up.  My father was a city music teacher, a choral director, a church organist, and even now he works as a cantor.  So I had music in the house, but I did not get along with my father at the piano.  I grew up singing in church and doing shows in school and such, but the music studies as a discipline–in terms of playing an instrument–didn’t really stick.  I ended up doing shows in school and then going to college for theater. I then took classes and then getting my first paying job with the Dance Theater of Harlem.  That led me into a career in performing and began a wonderful time of my life where my horizons just opened up.  I ended up going into more musical theater eventually because of the opportunities to work, but I have to be honest.  My career wasn’t the most outstanding, but I did get the chance to tour through the states and a little bit in Europe.  It was really a great experience and opened up my mind, seeing the way the different people lived in different areas of the country and abroad as well.  But you know that was a really brief time period, really only a few years.  I soon found that it wasn’t necessarily where I wanted to be, but I always found myself gravitating towards the piano in the orchestra pit when I was on tour doing shows.

So what’s funny is that I ended up stopping the dance and performance career, and starting a new career in fitness.  At the time I was just trying to make a living between gigs.  Then it swallowed up my time.   It got to the point where I had no time for anything else in my life.   Now I run a Pilates studio, my own business, full-time—the fact is I could squeeze two full-time jobs into the hours I work.  But right after I stopped performing I really needed to find another outlet of expression for my artistic side. So I started to dabble with this developing interest I had in salsa and mambo.  I had no idea what it was about at the time.  I really didn’t get it.  But I had these illusions based largely on TV series’ I saw as a kid, Dirty Dancing with Patrick Swayze, some Latin cliché characters in movies.  And I wanted to be part of it; there was something I couldn’t put my finger on, but I found it infectious and contagious.

So I started to take salsa and mambo classes with Eddie Torres, who is considered the salsa king, or the mambo king.  And he had toured with Tito Puente for three years, so the music was really held up in high regard in those classes and in the dance scene.  It was only a matter of years before I wanted to go and study this music, because I knew I had some music background from childhood and never really made it work for myself.  I really felt like all the steps from that journey were amazing, and I made some revelations at each stage.  When I found out about this place, it was an incredible realization that I could study at a relatively low cost, because these lessons would be much more expensive downtown, at some places easily double the cost of what they are here.  I came in here not knowing what kinds of opportunities existed, and what I found was a series of opportunities.  And these were not available to me in the place I grew up at the time I was growing up.  There was the opportunity to really begin to understand rhythm because I started to take conga/music reading classes.  Soon after I started to study piano trying to free myself from my previous hang-ups about what it all meant.  I think I stuck with two classes for a while and the idea was that I wanted to play piano the way you play in a salsa group or a Latin ensemble, and to do that I had to learn my jazz basics.  So I had this great class with Gustavo Casenave, where he started to build this Jazz vocabulary which really called up a lot of my music fundamentals.  At the same time I studied the basics of playing the Conga with Steve Lopez, but more so emphasizing the reading of music rhythms.  So I got to sort of fill in all these things that had kind of been left by the wayside as a kid.   And I’d have to say that as a kid nothing really caught on.  I was at the church in this intimidating, conservative music environment. I knew I liked music and I got a great start having a musical parent in my Dad.  But at the Harbor I got to free up and explore what I think is much more advanced harmony in jazz and then I started to learn rhythm without thinking about it too hard, which is what I thought I was doing all along.

And there were deep issues connected to this; this was a father and son relationship where it was a lot of pressure to be the student of my father.  For some reason…sometimes…we hear stories where this doesn’t always so smoothly as expected, and mine was a perfect example of that.  I’m glad to say now, it’s a little therapeutic because I get to sort of bridge that relationship back and show an appreciation for what my dad was trying to do with me and resume what didn’t quite take at that time.  What’s funny is that as a performing artist in our current culture, in comparison to Europe and other countries where performing arts and artists are subsidized through unemployment and are paid fairly well when they you perform, here in this country you’re sort of an out of work actor,  an out of work dancer.  And knowing I’ve sung, acted and danced my entire life it was kind of put away all the years I was actively working as a performer.  During that time I found that I couldn’t afford to be a performer, and there weren’t opportunities coming up for me.  I mean this is a field where you have to actively make your own opportunities.  So being able to sort of very carefully and very gingerly walk back into the arts in this way, and to feel protected and very sheltered in this environment was amazing.  And what happened was that I said, you know, I love to sing this music, and I’ve dabbled on my own with singing a little bit of Latin music, and I thought since I had a little bit of vocal training in some different languages I would try to sing this stuff.  So I picked up a lesson with David Oquendo, who is a Maestro here, and that was meant to be a Latin vocal class.  But when you study with David you realize he is bringing in this culture of  Cuban Son, boleros and baladas and kind of light popular music with the rumba tradition, the soul tradition, the roots of today’s salsa and much older Cuban “country” music.  That class is like a percussion class, where you’re tapping this and banging that before you get a chance to do any bit of singing because he wants to know that you’ve got the rhythms down, internalized; so you’re getting the roots, the roots and the fundamentals of these Cuban rhythms.  So when you layer all these lessons together it’s amazing.

And what finally happened was it was mentioned to me that there existed a space in the ensemble where I started as a vocalist, and then a piano spot seemed to open up, and in this workshop on Tuesday nights here I get a chance to play the piano.  It’s basically a class in being a completely new start up salsa band, only under the guidance and supervision of two great musical directors like Ramon Rodriguez and David Oquendo.  These guys are both really good at developing students in there own ways because they both have expert eyes and ears for this work.  They see exactly what you need and work to mold you.  They only push you to the degree that you can be pushed, then step back, observe you and then come around from a different angle.  So I’m enormously grateful to them for this opportunity.  Once my lessons turned into playing with this group of people I just felt like it all took off to a new level.  My practice, the discipline I put into the practice, looking to show up prepared for the next class, the next rehearsal with improved material and being able to handle those tricky parts that might have posed a problem on first viewing.  And you know…the group becomes a little family: some of my friends play conga, one of my other friends plays bongo, this other guy plays timbales.  It’s a group and you want to look good in front of your friends and make them look good too.  So we are slowly improving, and we’ve got a hot little group vibe going on and we’re hoping to continue moving forward.  I have to say as a kid I had three years of piano lessons; I was a singer; I could practice for a while; I could put it down; I knew I could always go back to singing.  As a kid I practiced…once a month I think.  And now, you know before beginning this workshop, I was probably practicing at least four days a week for an hour to two hours.  Now that this workshop is happening, there’s so much more motivation to pile on the practice hours, there’s really no limit to what you can strengthen in terms of your rhythmic chops or finger dexterity, or rhythm where I’ll play clave or the drum in practice and sing and work on some of the rhythms.  Although it’s a lot of work and it’s constantly trying to keep all the irons in the fire, it’s endlessly rewarding.  It’s an amazing adventure.  I really feel so indebted to this program, the existence of it, and all the work Ramon has done to keep it together and keep it going.

D: How did you hear about the Harbor Conservatory before you got started here?

E: You know that’s a funny question.  It doesn’t come immediately to mind how I heard about it… I remember wondering whether it was open to everybody, whether you had to be Latino or very young, at least school age, to take lessons.  I remember somebody telling me there were Salsa and dance classes being held here a number of years ago, five or six years ago.  And I knew about the existence of it but I thought it was more of a kids after school community project, I didn’t realize the extensiveness of the program.  Ah you know what!  I just realized those things were all true, but they never really made the connection for me.  What happened was I got very interested in playing and I said “I’ve got to learn to play this music on the piano. I want to play Latin music on the piano and I want to be able to sing and accompany myself.”  And in that instant I basically contacted this woman who wrote the “Salsa Guide Book for Piano and Ensemble” Rebeca Mauleon.  She’s an internationally-renowned pianist and Latin music educator.  I’ve read her books and they’re recommended by many teachers here.  I had found these books on my own and her contact information was there, so I wrote her an email and asked “Who do I study with in New York?”, and she recommended Oscar Hernandez.  Now this took some nerve because I knew about Oscar Hernandez.  He’d worked on The Capeman with Paul Simon, he’d been Ray Barretto’s pianist and arranger for years.  And he’d recently started his own big band, the Spanish Harlem Orchestra.

So I took a deep breath and found Oscar Hernandez’s contact information online.  I had seen him in shows with the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, so I stopped him during a show and found out how to get in touch with him.  So when I did he said, “Go to the Harbor Conservatory, Sonny Bravo teaches there”.  Then once I called the school they told me Sonny Bravo only takes advanced students so Ramon suggested I take lessons with Gustavo Casenave to work on Jazz fundamentals.  So that’s how it all started.  It was literally like finding some famous pianists who were hot players and asking from the source where should I go?  It was very gratifying that it happened; that I had access, I could pick up the phone and talk to somebody who could tell me “yes he teaches here, but his schedules full” and that was really gratifying. What’s great about this school is you’re linked in with the people that do play this music.  I’ll literally go out salsa dancing and I’ll see my piano teacher on the stage, and that’s amazing.  Or I’ll go to a gig that David is playing in, he’ll be playing guitar and singing, Gustavo is always playing out doing his jazz thing.  You’re studying with working musicians who are at the top of their craft.

D: Must be an awesome experience.

E: You know what I think is even more awesome is being an adult student and having access to this.  To get pulled in to this extent as an adult, you feel like your brain works better. You feel like you’re sleeping deeper, you’re living life more fully, you feel like you’re percolating and using all your synapses and your whole brain better because we always hear about how little of it we humans use.  And it really feels like, when they say older folks benefit from taking dance lessons or keeping limber and trying new things, playing sudoku and brain twisters and puzzles; in a sense it feels like when you’re doing this you’re in that mode constantly.  It makes you feel like a little kid.  It is truly a joy.

D: That’s great.  So how has taking lessons here affected your relationship with music?

E: I would say I listen to music a lot more intently.  I can hear things I’ve never heard before.  I would say I bring that enthusiasm to other people in my life, when I recommend music lessons to friends, their kids, or young people I know.  I feel like in the Latin music and dance scene which is a BIG trend right now, that twenty or thirty percent of the people I meet would love to study this music.  In a sense I feel a certain compulsion, a certain desire, to keep this music alive because it is roots music.  I’ve thought for a long time, long before going this direction that Latin music and Latin jazz is the best music in the world.  I had no Latin music growing up. I was in that strict kind of church and classical music environment.  All very square harmonies, with no bounce.  It wasn’t like a soul or a gospel chorus or choir, it was a traditional church choir.  When I say I think Latin music is the best music in the world, it’s the sophistication of the harmonies, combining these U.S. based jazz harmonies with the complexities of these Afro-Cuban rhythms, you’re basically layering all the tradition, all the richness that African and Arabic music has brought us, and when you look at the history you realize all the Eastern stuff including Asian, Persian, and Indian music found their way into this mix through early trade routes like the silk road.  And similar traders carried stringed instruments into North Africa where they inevitably ran into forest African drumming traditions.  Then you have the harmonic stuff that came from some of the same hybrid roots but became what we think of as European music.  Some of which came to be called romantic music and then more contemporary music.  You have all this breadth of rhythmic and choral and melodic and chordal music that is really the best elements of each of those kinds of music brought together.  Harmonic perfection.

D: Great way of putting that.  You mentioned that you play with the ensemble here.  Do you play with anybody else, and do you hope to potentially play gigs with the Harbor Ensemble in the future?

E: Those guys get excited, they talk about it.  The other day one of them told us of a place who wanted to use us as a band.  They asked Ramon about it afterwards and he said that we weren’t quite ready yet, that he wouldn’t want to throw us to the wolves right away.  The guys all have their delusions of grandeur, you have this one guy who’s ready to start this group with one singer, this other singer also suggesting a group of others become another separate group.  Then some of us want to keep this workshop and keep the same personnel and start a group.  Even David said the same thing a few months ago, that we should be a group and start something.  I dunno if we have the glue to make it stick, there’s something to be said for the sense of authority and the sense of trust that David and Ramon instill when they’re there administering that workshop and leading it.  Without our leaders, I don’t know if we’re strong enough.  I write my own songs and would love to start my own group playing original popular music, but they have these new jazz workshops here, a sort of renaissance of the jazz program here where they’re starting new things and having new ensembles, and I hope to get into one of those.  So it’s possible that much like the teachers here, maybe if I’m able to do this Latin workshop, then a Jazz workshop, then I can do my own music once I get my skills up in all those musical disciplines.  That would be the best outcome I can imagine.  It’s most gratifying when you’ve written something yourself and you also perform it. That puts together my singing, my writing, and my playing.  So that’s most definitely on my mind.

D: Cool.  Lastly do you have any advice you’d like to impart to somebody who wants to learn more about the conservatory, and possibly take lessons here?

E: I most certainly do.  I think that sometimes people think it’s a good idea to take lessons with a friend of a friend or a neighborhood person because it’s the economical choice, or it’s nearby.  The classes here are extremely affordable, especially with the high quality of working professionals they have teaching here.  I think it’s fair to say the teachers here go out of their way to serve this community, this institution, this conservatory.  If it was only about money you wouldn’t see the kind of character in the teachers here.  And I am extremely grateful for that.  I do know that in downtown Manhattan you might find these classes going for 3 to five times as much with the same teachers, so it is a big deal that they’re choosing to serve the school, and this community.  I think it is a good idea NOT to take lessons from  a friend of a friend, or a person down the block.  I think it’s a good idea to come here because there is a structure and as I just said the way that things worked for me is I had two classes first, then realized I needed more and different skills, so I took a workshop.  Then once I took a workshop I felt part of a community here, and you start to know this player, and this singer.  And that’s the way to get a true artist to flower.  It’s not just one trait, one discipline; it’s really kind of that music has these different arms, these different wings.  Your skills really hang on your ability to both network socially and as a musician.  So there’s a network of teachers, there’s a network of peers, and there’s a family feel here, which is really, really awesome.  That’s why I recommend this kind of a place, this place specifically, over studying with a friend or neighbor.  So you asked “Do you have any advice?”  This is the advice I’m constantly giving people.  You know, my friend’s son might want to study guitar, another friend’s son might want to study percussion, another friend’s daughter might want to study piano.  I have spoken highly of this place because I believe in it.  I will recommend it time and again, and deep down, I just want everyone to experience for themselves just how special it is.

Three Palmieri Scholarships Awarded!

Dear Friends,

To pay tribute to piano master Charlie Palmieri and to honor his memory, the 20th Annual competition for the Charlie Palmieri Memorial Piano Scholarship established by Tito Puente was held on Saturday, March 6th, 2010.  From a total of eight applicants, the Jury selected the following three young contestants: Tony Suero, Brian Olivo and Kevin Rentas, all of whom will receive half-scholarships to study Latin style piano at the Harbor Conservatory for a full year. The Jurors in this year’s competition were Sonny Bravo, Pablo Mayor and Gustavo Casenave, who reached a unanimous decision.

ABOUT THE RECIPIENTS

Tony Suero, age 19, a self taught musician, has been formally studying music at the Harbor Conservatory since 2007, with Pablo Mayor, Gustavo Schartz, and Gustavo Casenave. He is a three time Palmieri Scholarship recipient, who  enjoys the artistry of musicians like Pappo Luca, Sergio George, Michel Camilo and Gustavo Casenave because of their diversity in styles and creativity.  Tony’s goal is to become a composer, arranger, and to create his own musical institution in order to help others. He was given highest scores for his understanding and performance of the Latin style.

Brian Olivo, age 18, has been a student of Mohsan Rasool. He admires musicians such as Michel Camilo, Sergio George, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock. When asked about his goals, Brian stated: “Music is my passion and I want to be the best that I can be. I want to learn to compose and arrange, and become a music producer.” Brian was given high scores for his understanding and performance of the Latin style.

Kevin Rentas, age 15, has studied piano at the Bloomingdale House of Music as well as at the Harbor Conservatory, under the direction of Pablo Mayor. He received highest scores in his preparation for the Competition. As part of the prize, Kevin will continue working with Mr. Mayor as a scholarship student.

Over the course of its 20 year history, a host of talented young pianists have received the invaluable support provided by the Palmieri scholarship enabling them to pursue in-depth training and preparing many of them for entry into leading conservatories such as the Berklee School of Music, and the Jazz Program at the New School.  The Conservatory is proud that the majority of Palmieri recipients are currently active professional musicians who represent the legacy of the great Charlie Palmieri and the generosity and vision of the King of Latin Music, El Rey Tito Puente.

Previous recipients include: Danny Kader, Yecenia Gaitan, Dominick Agostini, Migdio Dominguez, Crystal Triay, Victoria Hoyos, Richy Rojas, Christopher Holder, Zacai Curtis, Luis Irizarry, Ruben Flamenco, Yeisson Villamar, Dennis Guevara, Mauri Frosio, Silvio Delis, Harold Gutierrez, Luis Gomez, Jr., Miguel Vargas, Matthias Bublath, David Santiago, Luis Fernandez, Angel Echevarria,
Roy Assaf, and Christian Sands.

Nina Gale Olson
Director of External Affairs

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