Puerto Rican Symphonic Orchestra Wins International Music Festival’s Gold Medal

The Symphonic Orchestra of the Ernesto Ramos Antonini Free School of Music won the gold medal at the New York International Music Festival held at Carnegie Hall in New York. The group was chosen over the youth symphony orchestras of Japan, California, and Switzerland. 

Puerto Rico boasted great talent as the Ernesto Ramos Antonini Free School of Music Orchestra obtained the first place, winning a gold medal in this global competition. In total, 67 students, between the ninth and twelfth grade, make up the Symphony Orchestra. Secretary of de Education, Jesús Rivera Sánchez thanked the youth by exalting the educational work on the island, as well as the staff of the agency working in the Free School of Music, underlining that “The students demonstrated great talent and commitment to music and its future.”

16-year-old Anthony Calderón Vizcarrondo, who plays the French horn in the Youth Symphony Orchestra, said that it was hard to forget what happened night at Carnegie Hall: “When we heard that we won we began to skip, we all embraced and sang ‘La Borinqueña’ [hymn].” Led by Fermín Segarra Vázquez, the group of teenagers achieved an overall score of 95% and the coveted gold medal. They had auditioned via YouTube and they were chosen to take part in the final event.

They performed Jean Sibelius’ “Finland;” “Spain,” by Emmanuel Chabrier; and “El Cumbanchero,” by Rafael Hernández with an arrangement by José Pujols. Segarra stated that “They are happy; they can’t wait to get home, but they are happy. Their presentation went very well. There was a colleague in the audience who plays in the Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera and he only has praise for them, especially for the execution of the “Spain,” because the end is difficult to achieve,” added Segarra, who also plays in the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra.

Director of the Ernesto Ramos Antonini Free School of Music in San Juan Víctor Rodríguez Deynes highlighted that from his seat in Carnegie Hall the delivery seemed “dreamlike.” He added, “It seemed to me that they were floating with their instruments, achieving a flawless sound. They even received a standing ovation when they ended their set with “El Cumbanchero.”

The students went on a tour of New York, before returning to San Juan.

Watch the students perform “El Cumbanchero” here:

For full article (in Spanish), see http://www.elnuevodia.com/cantamoslaborinquena-951506.html and http://www.elnuevodia.com/videoorquestasinfonicadelaescuelalibredemusicaganafestivalinternacional-951204.html

Photo from http://www.primerahora.com/rumbo_al_carnegie_hall_la_orquesta_sinfonica_de_la_escuela_libre_de_musica-379710.html

5 thoughts on “Puerto Rican Symphonic Orchestra Wins International Music Festival’s Gold Medal

  1. The truth is that they were not compiting against Japan, neither Switzerland. The final showcase presented Japan, Switzerland and New York.

    Surely, PR was awarded for a golden performance, but other orchestras did too. Before publishing news like this, please find a true resource.

  2. I completely agree with you, Mario. I actually happen to be a member of one of the orchestras who performed during the festival alongside our friends from Puerto Rico and it was made extremely clear from the start that the festival was NOT a competition – meaning that there was no 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place. As evidence, my school – along with Kasukabe Kyoei High School from Japan and Cerritos High School – also received a gold award. To make it clear, each musical group received a Gold, Silver, or Bronze award depending on the rating given to them by the judges.

    Honestly, this article was a bit of a slap in the face to me and all my fellow participants in the festival. The purpose behind this International Festival was to not prove who had the best orchestra; Rather, the festival was to serve as a platform for which bonds could be made between fellow musicians from around the world, showcase our hard work to the community, and – most of all – lend a helping hand to our brother and sisters in Japan.

    Which brings me to my second point: this article COMPLETELY failed to mention how all proceeds towards the festival would be donated to help the recovery process in Japan.

    Therefore, it is blatantly obvious that a poor amount of effort went into writing this article. Sure, our fellow musicians from Puerto Rico are extremely talented and absolutely deserved that gold award (in fact, me and the other members of my orchestra were the only school who gave them a standing ovation when the received their prize).

    But the blatant disregard to accurately report what happened and the complete disregard for the facts just disgust me beyond belief.

  3. I would like to agree with Mario and J.M. inn addressing the fact that not only was the festival not a competition, but numerous schools, including mine, received gold after a year or more of dedication and hard work.

    Please remember that journalism means reporting the facts. You are obviously either incredibly biased against the many talented groups (who did not only originate from California, Japan, and Switzerland, but also from New York, Washington, and other locations; in addition, you completely neglected that not all of these groups were symphony orchestras, but were also wind ensembles, string orchestras, and so on) who also participated in this music festival or you are simply too incompetent to do your research before writing and posting utter drivel such as this article. In the future, I advise you to refrain from writing such rubbish.

    1. We have kindly approved your comments in the interest of making information available to our readers. I will observe, however, that we are not reporters and this blog is a news aggregator–we aim to provide a service to our readers by compiling news about the Caribbean region for their information and perusal. The post to which you refer in your comments is simply a translation of an article that appeared in a Puerto Rican newspaper . . . and the writers of that report are quite unlikely to see your comments. I understand that you are upset because they failed to report accurately. There is a link to the original article at the end of the post and I encourage you to go to that link and write to those writers about your feelings. We–by which I mean my colleague and I, as responsible for this blog–did not write the article and would prefer it if you direct your abuse where it may properly be addressed.

  4. Hello there fellows! It’s been more than two years already since that wonderful event. I performed there with the group from Puerto Rico. I would like to apologize from part of me and my colleagues from the orchestra as these false news were, shamely, distributed around the local news on the island. Our group did everything to make it clear that it wasn’t an actual competition and other ensembles also won gold when we were interviewed on radio,tv, newspaper, etc…Unfortunately they chose to exaggerate the news and said we won over all of you guys, which is obviously not true. In fact, if it would’ve been an actual competition, the group from Japan would have won hands down, in my opinion (I still get goosebumps remembering their unbelievable presentation). Again, we truly apologize for the disrespectful publicity stunt our local media decided to spread around the country that year. You all are exceptional musicians and people. I wish you all good in future endeavors!

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