Ana María Martínez asks the members of the P.R. Financial Oversight & Management Board not to cut funds to the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra
Original English Letter:
Dear Ms. Jaresko, dear Financial Oversight & Management Board for Puerto Rico,
Thank you for accepting to read my letter.
With your kind indulgence, I will introduce myself, as I believe we have not had the pleasure of meeting in person.
I am proud to be Puerto Rican, and of all the great things Puerto Rico offers to the world. I am a Grammy-Award winning opera singer who has performed leading roles with the world’s most prestigious opera companies, including The Metropolitan Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Santa Fe Opera, Los Angeles Opera, The Vienna State Opera, Teatro Real (Madrid), Royal Opera – Covent Garden (London), and many others. My career has taken me around the world for more than 25 years, in roles such as Cio-Cio San (Madame Butterfly) Mimi (La Bohème), Violetta (La Traviata), The Countess (The Marriage of Figaro) and the title role in Dvorak’s Rusalka. I have sung alongside the most celebrated artists in the opera world, including famed tenors Plácido Domingo and Andrea Bocelli. I have sung at The White House, with Plácido Domingo, am featured in the series Mozart in the Jungle and I have recorded for many feature Hollywood films. I am the first ever Artistic Advisor for Houston Grand Opera.
I am a graduate of The Juilliard School, holding both Masters and Bachelors Degrees in Music and am an alumna of the Houston Grand Opera Young Artist Program.
In 2015 I established the Ana Maria Martinez Encouragement Award as part of the Annual Eleanor McCollum Auditions and Awards Competition with Houston Grand Opera, to help identify young singers with great vocal and artistic promise, who can benefit greatly from further training and artistic preparation for a successful career in opera.
Most recently, at 62nd National Puerto Rican Day Parade, in NY, I was distinguished as “Nuestro Orgullo” “The Pride of Puerto Rico”.
Through a talent which I received as a gift at birth, realizing that I had this gift, which has always been and continues to be a great joy, diligent, disciplined work and dedication, arduous training and sacrifice and the artistic opportunities presented to me, I have been able to achieve the above mentioned accomplishments and distinctions.
Why do I go into this degree of detail, you ask? Simply to set the stage, if you will, to state my firsthand knowledge about the vital importance of the classical performing arts in a society, in order for it to remain civilized, sophisticated in cognitive thinking and able to access an art form which elevates the soul.
The arts strengthen and inspire. A pillar of art and solid stance in our community in Puerto Rico, continues to be and with an emblazoned heart I hope will always be our Symphony Orchestra: La Orquesta Sinfónica de Puerto Rico. Established in 1958 by one of the greatest musicians in the history of music and foremost cellist, conductor and composer of the 20th century, the unparalleled Pablo Casals, the OSPR has continuously received international acclaim for its excellence, touring the world’s major concert halls, including Carnegie Hall in NY, and has hosted and accompanied world class soloists in our island. Incidentally, Pablo Casals inaugurated the Pablo Casals Festival in Puerto Rico in 1957, and the Puerto Rican Conservatory of Music In 1959.
In addition, some of the greatest orchestra members of major orchestras in the US are originally from PR and received the early music preparation exactly as their colleagues of OSPR. These famous orchestras include, among others, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Supporting an individual with talent to reach his/her maximum is the responsibility of a home and of our society leaders. If you decide to deeply cut into the funds of this extraordinary organization, I fear that the pillar which has raised us and our spirits in the most exquisite ways and in our most trying times since its inception, would cause a moral collapse. I realize that your objective is to correct many long-standing errors in fiscal judgement, and that is noble and necessary. It is also most challenging, and I do not envy your position. What I ask, what I beg of you is to not, in the process, cut the wings which allow our souls to take flight and what makes us rise beyond what we could ever dream possible.
Across society while not everyone is a classical arts fan, I can confidently say that even if it is not one’s favorite form of artistic expression, one likely appreciates having as a neighbor, colleague, collaborator and ally, someone who does celebrate this art form, if for no other reason than for their respectful nature and well informed opinions towards all topics of discussion.
The individuals who appreciate the classical arts are likely to be well traveled, well read, open minded and supportive of community programs which support growth and development in their surrounding communities and in the world at large.
A fun and accurate fact is that per capita, Puerto Rico has the largest number of outstanding performers and artists.
Please take this sentiment and passionate plea into consideration. Our OSPR and the classical arts in Puerto Rico not only represent us in the island but equally carry our flag internationally, melting boundaries, connecting the world, showcasing some of the best and most exquisite abilities abundant in Puerto Rico.
In the words of the great Pablo Casals:
“Es de gobiernos sabios fortalecer las artes. Ello crea un pueblo noble, en cuyo corazón cabe todo el universo.”
“It is the responsibility of wise governing bodies to strengthen the arts. That creates a noble society, in whose heart there is room for the entire universe”
Ana María Martínez