PUERTO RICO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
The Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra began to take root in 1956 when Pablo Casals accepted the invitation of the government to establish himself in Puerto Rico, where his mother, Pilar Defilló, was born and raised in the town of Mayagüez. The inaugural concert was held in 1958 in Mayagüez, directed by Casals. The soloist was José (Pepito) Figueroa, a local violinist who had already triumphed in Europe and the United States, and who from then until 1990 served as the orchestra’s concertmaster. The current musical director is the respected Chilean conductor Maximiano Valdés. Other prominent figures who have led the orchestra throughout the years are Alexander Schneider, Juan José Castro, Víctor Tevah, Sidney Harth, John Barnett, Odón Alonso, Karl Sollak, Eugene Kohn, Guillermo Figueroa and emeritus conductor Roselín Pabón. Recently, Rafael Enrique Irizarry was named associate conductor. Today the Puerto Rico Symphony brings together musicians with established careers and excellent young musicians also active on international stages. Its importance in the country’s musical life can be felt in its annual concert season, its educational, pop and outreach concerts and its collaborations with the Casals Festivals as well as opera and ballet companies. It has been the orchestra of Operalia, the singing competition founded by Plácido Domingo, and has left its mark with successful presentations in the neighboring Caribbean, Central America, the United States, and Spain. In 2008, the Puerto Rico Symphony proudly celebrated its fiftieth anniversary and inaugurated the Pablo Casals Symphony Hall, an ideal space for its performances, constructed as part of the cultural complex formed by the Luis A. Ferré Performing Arts Center and the Santurce Cultural District.