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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

More music students from Caguas to play in Europe

Antonio Paoli Public Music School’s Symphonic Band will perform in the Lisbon International Music Festival in Portugal

The Antonio Paoli Free School of Music’s Banda Sinfónica, which is composed of 48 musicians between the ages of 12 and 18, left Sunday for Portugal to perform at the Lisbon International Music Festival, and will return home on July 15.

By Richard Gutiérrez

The Antonio Paoli Free School of Music (Escuela libre de música Antonio Paoli) in Caguas doesn’t have just one orchestra playing in Europe.

As previously reported by the STAR, the school’s youth orchestra recently played in the Summa Cum Laude Youth Music Festival in Vienna, Austria. But that orchestra is not the only group to play outside the island this summer. The school’s advanced symphonic band, directed by professional trombone player Miguel A. Rivera Trinidad, will also have the privilege of playing in Europe.

“We feel extremely honored that for the first time in the history of our little island, a Puerto Rico school band will participate in this festival,” Rivera told the STAR. “We are especially honored to be that band that will participate alongside so many other groups from around the world.”

The event marks not only the first time in the history of Puerto Rico in which a school band participates in the Lisbon International Music Festival in Portugal, but also the first time in the history of the Caribbean. The school will present its repertoire at Oporto City Hall, which is in the northern region of Portugal. The school band, better known as “Banda Sinfόnica, Escuela Libre de Música Antonio Paoli,” is composed of 48 musicians between the ages of 12 and 18. The group began its journey on Sunday and will come back home on July 15.

This is not the first time the band has had a major opportunity like this one. Some of the band’s most impressive successes include performing at the inauguration of Gov. Alejandro García Padilla in 2012, which was transmitted through public television, as well as participating in Disney Performing Arts on Stage, where it won the “Gold Mickey Award.”

The director talked about the continuous rehearsal process and how the band was invited on the current trip.

“They have been practicing all year long for this event, throughout weekly rehearsals, so that the students’ academic duties are not interfered with,” Rivera said. “The invitation occurred on our trip to Spain when the band played in The Pamplonesa [Pamplona International Music Festival].”

Rivera also discussed the process of gathering funds for the trip and decided to give a special thanks to many of the people involved.

“It was very difficult to fund this trip, but we have to thank so many people for helping us,” he said. “My apologies if I forget some, but some of the people involved were: the former secretary of education, Eliezer Ramόn Parés and his special assistant, Wendy Colόn, and the students’ trip director, Rita Fontanez. We are also extremely grateful to the mayor of Caguas, William Miranda Torres, and the president of the Cooperative Bank of Aguas Buenas, Buenacoop, Jesús Carrasquillo.

Rivera also thanked the school’s director, Dr. Nelida Hernández Bermúdez, “for her great amount of economic aid.”

“We cannot forget the tremendous amount of work done by the Committee of Parents led by Mrs. Sandra Rocio Lόpez, Sándra Meléndez, Ivonne Carrasquillo, Karime, Elisha, Rebbeca and Ernesto,” he added. “Without all of these wonderful parents, this project would’ve never been possible. We hosted a great number of events to raise funds for this trip, including a golf tournament. It was a long and arduous process, but it was so worth it in the end.”

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