Puerto Rican Guitar Retreat Recap
Our first 2017 February Guitar Retreat was a success. We were very grateful we could use the Foundation Arana space, which is absolutely gorgeous. The feedback we received from our guitar students, friends and family demonstrated their genuine appreciation of the space and the accommodations.The guitar students worked hard and experienced strong cohesive musical ensembles. They developed relationships on a musical and personal levels and enjoyed each other’s company.
The Foundation Arana space highly increased the participants’ experience of the activities, which included yoga/relaxation, music classes, lunches, performances, and social events. The participants and their guests also benefited from interacting with the local artists community hosted by the Arana Foundation, in addition to the opportunity to discover the rich Puerto Rican culture.
Luis Alfonso, the Director of the Foundation Arana, was a terrific host and a pleasure to work with. He gracefully facilitated every single step of the guitar retreat activities with an effective problem-solving approach, which resulted in smooth transitions and more. His exceptional interactional skills provided an exciting multi-cultural and friendly environment for all, which enhanced the overall guitar retreat experience.
Sophie Glikson, Maurice Cahen & Steve Travis (Guitar retreat organizers)
"I have been playing guitar for one year and had
the honor of attending the very first guitar retreat in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, which was organized by Maurice Cahen, Steve Travis, Luis Alfonso Arana, and Sophie Glikson-Cahen. This was a very rewarding experience for me as a beginner-level guitar student and first-time visitor of Puerto Rico. The retreat team helped all of the participants and their families/guests with securing lovely accommodations nearby the very beautiful Fundación Arana, where the workshops were held. On the first evening, all of the participants and their guests were invited to an art reception where we were able to view the art of a local artist followed by our first ever witnessed clarinet-only concert, performed by 10 clarinet players and organized by the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico, which completely blew us away!
During the workshops, we focused on ensemble music, duets, and individual performances with maestros Maurice Cahen and Steve Travis. This was a great opportunity for me to learn and perform with more advanced students and to have exposure to an ensemble repertoire. La Fundación Arana provided a very unique and wonderful space that I felt lucky to be coming to every day.
Participants and guests were also invited to participate in Yoga each morning before the workshops began and treated to authentic Puerto Rican lunches, which were freshly prepared for us each day; we ate very well. The retreat team also organized other events to expose participants to various areas of the arts and to the culture of Puerto Rico, including an artist’s drawing session, a visit and tour of the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico, and a sight-seeing trip to the south of the island.
We concluded the workshop with a small group recital for our families and friends, which was a great experience to share what we had learned in our short time together. I traveled with my friend who had no prior guitar playing experience, but impressed us all with her first guitar performance duet with another guest during this recital after they had only worked with Maurice for 30 minutes! We were also able to attend a performance from our talented maestros as a final treat.
It was clear that a lot of effort and thought went into the planning and facilitating of this by the retreat team and they worked very hard in ensuring that everyone had a great time. I would recommend this to a music student of any level to attend with their families and friends as an experience that they will enjoy, learn from, and remember fondly."
March 11, 2017
I attended the February 2017 Guitar Retreat in Old San Juan, as a guest of my friends Sophie and Maurice. It was such a beautiful experience and I came home with many special memories. My heart is filled with appreciation for so many things. I remember the gentle but also challenging daily yoga classes. The classes offered great stretching and centering exercises and set the stage to bond with participants and other guests and family members on the retreat. This morning ritual made me look forward to the amazing Puerto Rican lunches provided each day. The retreat was filled with experiences fostering a deep appreciation for learning; art, music and relating to one another. When the participants performed their duos and ensembles I was in awe; knowing how hard they, Maurice and pianist, Steve Travis had worked.
I will always remember the joy of visiting the Music Conservatory of San Juan and listening to musicians who had earlier performed one evening at La Fondacion Arana. On another occasion, there was a trip to nearby Ponce and the joy of festival time and salsa dancing.
There are numerous other things I will always treasure; the Mercado, the International Poetry readings I discovered, the warm and beautiful beach experiences, the strolling through colorful cobblestone streets and a visit to the Museo de Arte De Puerto Rico. I am eternally grateful to my friends and each member of the Guitar Retreat Team who co-created such a generous and outstanding adventure into culture the the beauty of the arts.
I really enjoyed the guitar retreat to Puerto Rico! I learned a lot about the culture and the music in San Juan. I had a lot of fun playing trios, especially the Spanish piece, the African song, the Rockers, and the Prisoners. I also enjoyed playing some jazz pieces with Steve. The yoga was nice, because it made my wrist feel really relaxed and helped me achieve my arch. I loved being able to meet new and interesting people, and to have the chance to play music of different cultures in a guitar ensemble. Duets with Steve helped me learn more about playing Jazz and Blues and not getting lost in a piece of music. I really enjoyed the festival and the great food as well. I am looking forward to the next opportunity to play with Steve and your other students.
Daniel (11 years old)
Puerto Rico was beautiful. As a non-guitar participant, I had plenty of time to explore San Juan on my own and wonderful and interesting opportunities to experience the local arts community as well as get to know my fellow participants, guitar and non guitar alike. Having a quick intro to guitar lesson and debut performance was certainly an unexpected addition to the trip!
Lena Thomas Melendez
Andrew & Misty performing the Pavane Op.50 of Fauré
A big thanks to Sophie and Luis Alfonso. After a full year of preparation, I don't think I could have put this project together without their unconditional support, love and fantastic get together dinners picking up our brains for new ideas! Luis had a great vision and we were able to realize it and build on top of it. I really enjoyed working together and always keep our artistic goals on top of the agenda.
I feel so grateful we had the opportunity to interact with the Puerto Rican Artist community. Maurice
Steve & Mo final concert.