The University at Albany Department of Music is pleased to host a two day symposium focusing on the music of the picturesque Caribbean island of Puerto Rico.  Slated to start in the afternoon of Friday, October 26, 2012 and conclude on Saturday, October 27, 2012, the Boricua Rhythms Conference will feature presentations and panel discussions focusing on a wide range of issues related to Puerto Rican music. Topics to be examined range from popular music, including genres such as salsa and jíbaro music, to the influence Spanish cellist Pablo Casals had on the musical life of the island after relocating there in 1955 to the works of contemporary Puerto Rican composers such as Héctor Campos-Parsi, Ernesto Cordero, William Ortiz and Roberto Sierra. Grammy-nominated pianist and long-time UAlbany faculty member Max Lifchitz is the organizer of the conference and will be performing in the concerts offered as part of it.

The word "Boricua" means native from Borinquen (Puerto Rico’s original name). Scholars participating in the conference hail from throughout the country and represent many prestigious institutions including Columbia, Brandeis and Cornell Universities, Hartford’s Trinity College, the Puerto Rico Conservatory and the University of Puerto Rico.  As part of the conference, two recitals will be offered by distinguished Puerto Rican guest performers, mezzo-soprano Patricia Cay and violinist Narciso Figueroa.  Both are open to the public; conference participation is not required.

On Friday, October 26 at 8pm, Patricia Cay will offer a panoramic view of the Puerto Rican art song in a concert entitled Art Song in Puerto Rico. Inspired by texts of Puerto Rican poets, she will present songs by composers representing three generations including Héctor Campos-Parsi, Ernesto Cordero, Jack Délano, Narciso Figueroa, Rafael Hernández, William Ortiz and Luis Antonio Ramírez.

Cay began her musical studies at the Escuela Libre de Música in her native Puerto Rico before relocating to New York City to train at the Manhattan School of Music and the Juilliard Opera Center. She was awarded first prize in the Metropolitan Opera Regional competition in Puerto Rico.  Much sought-after as an opera and zarzuela singer, as well as oratorio soloist and art song recitalist, she has performed under the auspices of Puerto Rico’s Festival Casals, Festival Iberoamericano de las Artes, Opera de Puerto Rico, Virginia Opera, Augusta Opera, Opera al fresco, Houston’s Opera in the Heights and Il Teatro Lirico D’Europa. She has appeared as soloist with the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, the Florida Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonic and the Sinfónica de Puerto Rico.

On Saturday, October 27 at 3pm, violinist Narciso Figueroa will perform works by Héctor Campos-Parsi, Ernesto Cordero, Jesús Figueroa, William Ortiz and Roberto Sierra in a program entitled Puerto Rico’s Chamber Music.

A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Figueroa is a member of the most distinguished family of classical musicians on the island. After studying at the Puerto Rico Conservatory, he received a scholarship from the University of Michigan and did his graduate work under Dorothy DeLay at The Juilliard School. Following his successful Carnegie Recital Hall Debut in 1989, Figueroa was invited to join the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in 1990. He has performed as soloist, chamber musician and recitalist throughout Latin America and Europe. One of the works that Figueroa will perform is an arrangement made in the 1950’s by his grandfather – the violinist and composer Jesús Figueroa -- of La Borinqueña, the Puerto Rican national anthem.

Both guest artists will be accompanied at the keyboard by Max Lifchitz. Lifchitz has appeared as soloist with the Albany Symphony Orchestra, the Clifton Park Chamber Orchestra, México’s National Symphony Orchestra, El Salvador’s National Orchestra and the Neuchatel Orchestra in Switzerland. Robert Commanday, writing for The San Francisco Chronicle described him as "a young composer of brilliant imagination and a stunning, ultra-sensitive pianist." The New York Times music critic Allan Kozinn praised Mr. Lifchitz for his "clean, measured and sensitive performances." A graduate of The Juilliard School and Harvard University, Lifchitz joined the staff of the University at Albany in the Fall of 1986.

The Saturday recital will be preceded by a round-table panel discussion dealing with the future of Puerto Rico’s music. Participants will include composer and Cornell University Professor Roberto Sierra; composer and University of Puerto Rico Professor William Ortiz; pianist and Puerto Rico Conservatory faculty member Yvonne Figueroa; and Hunter College’s Center for Puerto Rican Studies historian Alberto Hernández. The panel discussion will start at 2:30 PM and will be held in the Recital Hall.

The Boricua Rhythms Conference and Concerts are made possible with grants from the Office of the Vice-President for Research; the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office; the University Auxiliary Services and public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts administered by North/South Consonance, Inc.

Conference registration is $25 per person and can be arranged by contacting the Music Department at (518) 442-4187 or  Tickets are $10 for the general public and $3 for students, seniors & UAlbany faculty/staff for each concert and may be purchased through the Performing Arts Center Box Office.  For further information, contact the Box Office at (518) 442-3997.