After the success of the first Casals Festival in 1957, State Senator Ernesto Ramos Antonini proposed the creation of the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music and the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra. Puerto Rico had had several symphony orchestras before, going back to the 19th century, but they had not been government sponsored and eventually disappeared. But this time, with the backing of a world known figure like Pablo Casals and the financial support of the Puerto Rican government, the project was a success.
The original Conservatory of Music was inaugurated in 1960 on Franklin D. Roosevelt Ave., across the street from where the “Fomento” and “Telemundo” buildings stand today. “Fomento” is the local Spanish moniker for the “Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company”, a government run organization which, at the time when the Conservatory of Music was created, had its offices on Juan Ponce de León Ave. in Hato Rey; about a mile northeast of its present day location. Telemundo is a local TV station (Channel 2) that at the time had its studios in the Puerta de Tierra area, close to Luis Muñoz Rivera Park.
In 2009 the Conservatory of Music was moved to the historic Miramar district, facing the Condado Lagoon and the hotel district. The present day structure is a totally remodel historic site built in 1882 to house the “Madres Hermanas del Sagrado Corazón de María” (Sister Mothers of the Sacred Heart of Mary) and it was also the last civil building that the Spanish government built in Puerto Rico (the last military building was the Ballajá Barracks in Old San Juan).
The original mission of the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music was to train Puerto Rican musicians for the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra and music teachers for the Island’s public education system. Today the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music is a full-fledged, fully-accredited, top-notch institution that trains all sorts of musicians in diverse disciplines such as: singing, piano, guitar, orchestra instruments, jazz, classical and Caribbean music, composition and musical education.
Right next to the teaching facilities there’s a multi-amphitheater complex where students and well-renown musicians perform regularly. Sometimes these events are presented at very low prices or completely free to the general public.