InterviewsMarch 2020

Puerto Rico Flute Symposium

What is the Puerto Rico Flute Symposium?

PRFS is a weeklong flute symposium in the beautiful island of Puerto Rico! There will be masterclasses, panel discussions, and performances to enhance the contributions made by people of color and other minorities in the music field. We are telling these neglected stories to bridge the gap between the realities of the underrepresented and the incomplete depiction displayed by the music industry.

Minorities add immense talent to the music community and we want to give it a space to grow. We believe the best way to serve our community is to showcase it in concert halls and classrooms.   

Historically, music has been used to carry the voices of the marginalized, yet minorities are not properly represented yet. Without acknowledging these voices music remains incomplete and through this symposium, we hope to add pieces to the puzzle.

When/ what events are part of the PR Flute Symposium?

PRFS will run from June 7th to the 14th. We will have masterclasses (solo, orchestral, and chamber music), lectures, discussion panels (inclusivity, entrepreneurship, and musician’s health), recitals, and concerts. Rehearsals for our sister organization, the Puerto Rico Summer Music Festival, will be happening at the same time so participants will also have the chance to sit in during orchestral and chamber music rehearsals as well as sectionals given by PRSMF guest artists.

Who will be the guest artists?

Our guest artists for our inaugural year include flutist and composer Valerie Coleman, piccolo specialist Christine Erlander Beard, international Yamaha soloist Alhelí Pimienta, and award-winning chamber ensemble Serenade Duo.

We also have invited guest lecturers Anne Pollack (Emergency Flute Repair), Dr. Elizabeth Janzen and Dr. Karen Demsey (Helping 1st Generation Students Navigate the Music School Process), Francesca Leo (Playing Without Pain), and Héctor Daniel Ramirez (Flute Improvisation in Jazz and Latin Music)

Additional lecturers and performers will be chosen from our proposal submission process so stay tuned on our website and social media for an updated list!

Who will be attending?

This symposium is open to musicians of all kinds, genres, and nationalities. We want to create a truly immersive and inclusive space where the contributions of members of all marginalized communities are exalted. Educating allies on how they can support and help our communities in spaces where we are fighting for a seat on the table is also a priority, therefore this symposium welcomes all.

Patricia Cordona


What are some of the challenges of running a flute festival?

The idea of creating the festival and what we wanted it to be about was the easiest part! Patricia, Flor, and myself are doing everything for the festival: contacting the artists and performers, writing contracts, scheduling, forming and editing the website and social media, coming up with the proposal guidelines, adjudicating, booking concert and rehearsal venues, acquiring equipment (pianos, stands, projectors…), booking flights for our guest artists, booking housing accommodations for everyone involved… the list is endless! 

We’ve been working non-stop for the past six months and while it is a lot of work, we’re driven to create a space that hasn’t been seen before in the flute community.

Is there an application process to attend?

Our application process is very simple and can be found on our website. Our program costs range from $75-$400 depending on how active the participants want to be.
Many summer festivals are out of reach for musicians of color due to their costs, we created a wide range of programs to make sure money was not an issue for participants.

You can find more information about our participant application as well as our Young Artist Competition (sponsored by The Flute Center of New York, Your Flute Works, and Celestine Flute Rexonator), here:

And about our different programs here:

Will there by exhibitors at the festival?

We are finalizing contracts so we can’t release that information just yet but stay tuned for the announcements!

How did you decide to run the symposium and How would you describe the flute culture in Puerto Rico?

This program has been I'm the back of my mind for some years now, I was just waiting for the right moment. I realized that there was never going to be a right or wrong moment.
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico and I feel that there is no better place to run an event like this. Also, who wouldn't want to go to Puerto Rico?

As for flute culture, I would say this is a work in progress. There are magnet music schools on the island, the Conservatory Pre-College, a couple of private instructors and institutions where you can find a more formal education, but I did not have a formal flute education until I was accepted to the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music.

Basically, a solid music education goes to the small percentage of students that can afford it. This is not only in the flute environment, but also on most instruments. As a flutist, I saw this as a huge problem because those who are in school bands do not receive flute specific instruction.

This is not to say that band directors don’t try their best. Band directors give their 120 percent to search for the best resources, but we lack basic resources due to our location and dismissal of the US government.

This is why this symposium is so important; it doesn’t only bring guest artists, lecturers, competitions and more, it also helps students and teachers advance, create, and provide new information and strengthen the flute community.

Ahleli Pimienta

Leave a Reply

You have free article(s) remaining. Subscribe for unlimited access.