Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Puentes Caribeños: Symposium of Art Music from across the Caribbean

C Force Performs Carrillo

Dr. Christine Gangelhoff writes:

Symposium of Caribbean Art Music Unites Musicians and Scholars in Puerto Rico

The third installment of the Symposium of Art Music from the Caribbean was held April 4-6, 2019 at the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico (CMPR) in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The CMPR hosted the event as part of its annual Symposium of Music Research, now in its fifth year. For this third Symposium of Art Music, the event adopted its new name, Puentes Caribeños (Caribbean Bridges). The goal of the event’s organizers and participants is to hold it, with its new name, bi-annually at alternating locations throughout the Caribbean.

The Symposium began in 2013, conceived by Dr. Christine Gangelhoff from what was then the College of The Bahamas (now the University of The Bahamas), as the International Symposium on Composers of African and Afro-Caribbean Descent. The Symposium brought together musicians, composers, scholars and students to engage with the topic of Caribbean art music. This symposium drew participants both local and international and was continued - with the same format and the same goals - in November 2014 at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT), where it was organized by UTT’s music faculty member Dr. Adam Walters.

The third Symposium was spearheaded by Dr. Carlos Carrillo (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign), who was formerly on faculty at CMPR. Puentes Caribeños (Caribbean Bridges), focused on strengthening bonds between composers, performers, artists, and scholars throughout the Caribbean and its diaspora, and with specialists from outside the region. The three-day event featured a mix of scholarly presentations and topical discussions as well as opportunities to network and hear performances of relevant musical works. Sessions included presentations of academic papers, talks by regional composers, and concerts. Performances included local traditional music from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and pieces recently composed for the concert hall. The organizing committee was comprised of Jaime O. Bofill Calero (Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico), Carlos Carrillo, Christine Gangelhoff, Adam Walters.

Concerts were offered by faculty musicians resident at CMPR and by featured visiting ensemble C Force, the faculty trio from the University of The Bahamas. The trio is comprised of Dr. Christine Gangelhoff (flute), Dr. Paul Jones (piano), and Mr. Christian Justilien (euphonium). Since its formation in 2008 (with pianist Dr. Christy Lee), C Force has performed Caribbean art music in concerts throughout the region, including many of the family island of The Bahamas. One goal of the trio is to showcase little-known classical composers of the Caribbean region in original compositions, transcriptions, and arrangements.

The performance by C Force included several works composed specifically for members of the ensemble: Bahamas Island Suite, composed by trio member Christian Justilien,  Sonate à Christine, composed for flutist Christine Gangelhoff by Haitian composer Julio Racine, and Where the sand meets the ocean, by Dr. Carlos Carrillo Cotto. The performance of Sonate à Christine was the premiere of all three movements of the work. Dr. Carrillo’s work was composed for C Force earlier this year, as part of his residency as International Visiting Scholar at the University of The Bahamas (UB).  His residency and original composition were completed in conjunction with UB’s Colour of Harmony, a collaboration between the university’s visual art and music departments. The theme of the event was the sea, which served as inspiration for the composer and artists. Dr. Carillo’s composition for C Force was performed on 22 March, 2019 and accompanied by the projection of artwork from prominent Bahamian artist, Lilian Blades. The premiere of the complete work took place at Puentes Caribenos, with Dr. Adam Walters on horn and conch shell joining C Force in the opening welcome concert for the Symposium.

Other performances of particular note included Sept Pièces Créoles, composed by Alain Pierre Pradel of Guadeloupe, performed by renowned Puerto Rican pianist Harry Aponte, and Songs of the Islands by Trinidadian composer and keynote speaker Dominique Le Gendre, sung by vocal students at CMPR.

The Symposium was capped by an outdoor evening concert by Flambo Combo, a student ensemble from Bertha C. Boschulte Middle School in St. Thomas. Flambo Combo specializes in quelbe, the local traditional music from the Virgin Islands. The concert ended in a jam session, with several of the participating musicians and composers joining Flambo Combo onstage.


Title of Event: Puentes Caribeños: Symposium of Art Music from across the Caribbean
Location of Event: Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Date of Event: 4-6 April 2019

Organizing committee:
Jaime O. Bofill Calero, Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico
Carlos Carrillo, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Christine Gangelhoff, University of The Bahamas
Adam Walters, University of Trinidad and Tobago

Videos can be found on the following youtube playlist:

College of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Charitable Arts Foundation of The Bahamas
Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico (CMPR)

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