Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra
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The Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra (PRSO) (Orquesta Sinfónica de Puerto Rico in Spanish) is Puerto Rico’s foremost musical ensemble, and one of the most renowned orchestras of the Americas. Sponsored by the Government of Puerto Rico, it has 80 regular musicians from around the world performing a 52-week season which includes symphonic concerts, operas, ballets, pops, and other activities.
The history of the PRSO dates back to 1956 when famed cellist Don Pablo Casals visited the island to see his family and to discover the land where his mother was born. Soon after, he would dedicate most of his work to foster classical music in Puerto Rico. In 1957, he organized the first annual Casals Festival, where he invited internationally renowned classical musicians to perform several concerts to Puerto Ricans and tourists alike. It was during this multi-week festival that state legislator Ernesto Ramos Antonini presented a bill which would create the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, receiving much praise and support from both the public and other state legislators. After the law was signed by then Governor of Puerto Rico Luis Muñoz Marín, the task of organizing the orchestra was given to the same group which organized the Casals Festival. The first live concert was performed on November 6, 1958 in Mayagüez, hometown of Don Pablo Casals’s mother.
The PRSO has hosted various internationally renowned artists, including Plácido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, Justino Díaz, Kiri Te Kanawa, and Alicia de Larrocha, among others, and has performed in various Central and South American countries as well as in the United States. In addition to its 48 week regular season, the PRSO also organizes several concerts and activities for the purpose of fulfilling Don Casals’s dream of fostering classical music in Puerto Rico. These activities include: Conoce tu Orquesta (“Know Your Orchestra”), La Sinfónica en tu Pueblo (“The Orchestra In Your Town”), La Sinfónica en las Universidades (“The Orchestra in Universities”), and La Sinfónica en los Residenciales (“The Orchestra In The Projects”; i.e. public housing), as well as performing in the annual Casals Festival.
The PRSO is currently managed by the Musical Arts Corporation of the government of Puerto Rico, who also organizes the annual Casals Festival. The PRSO regularly performs at the Luis A. Ferré Performing Arts Center.
Its current roster includes 80 regular musicians from different nationalities, including Puerto Rico, Spain, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Argentina, Colombia, Great Britain, Germany, Russia, Romania, and the United States.
Music Directors (Conductors)
- Pablo Casals
- Juan José Castro
- Al Maestro Castro
- Alexander Schneider
- Víctor Tevah
- Sidney Harth
- John Barnett
- Odón Alonso
- Karl Sollak
- Eugene Kohn
- Guillermo Figueroa, Jr.(first Puerto Rican born director)
- Roselín Pabón (current associate director)
- Maximiliano Valdés (current music director)
- José Figueroa
- Henry Hutchinson-Negrón (current)
- List of symphony orchestras in the United States
- Classical music
- Music of Puerto Rico
- Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico
- Site dedicated to the PRSO (Spanish)