2010-2011 Tito Puente Scholarship Fund Recipients

2010-2011 Tito Puente Scholarship Fund Recipients

El Barrio/East Harlem – Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts, a division of Boys & Girls Harbor, is pleased to announce that percussion students Nelson Mathew Gonzalez and Max Starcevic-Castro have been selected as 2010-2011 Tito Puente Scholarship Fund recipients. The Tito Puente Scholarship Fund at Harbor Conservatory was established to further the inspirational musicianship of the great “El Rey” Tito Puente.  A multi-instrumentalist, master timbalero, arranger, composer, bandleader, and proud son of East Harlem, Tito Puente cared deeply about education for young students and the need for youngsters to continue and/or begin their musical studies, as well as to reaffirm pride in Hispanic culture.

Up until his death in 2000, The Conservatory was an annual recipient of Mr. Puente’s own scholarship Fund, and with permission from the Puente family we have continued the scholarship in his memory. The Tito Puente Scholarship Fund provides support for Latin percussion students enrolled in the Conservatory’s Pre-Professional Latin Music Program.


Nelson Matthew Gonzalez – Nineteen year old Mathew was raised in a musical family where his grandfather, Benny Ayala is a seasoned Plenero, composer, folklorist and mask maker. As a young child Mathew was immersed in an environment filled with the Afro-Caribbean beats of Puerto Rican folkloric music. He began formally studying music—learning to read and studying theory at the Harbor Conservatory along with his Latin percussion instruction beginning on conga eight years ago at the age of 11.  Since then he has become accomplished on bongo, conga and timbales and is currently studying drum set with Tony Devito in preparation for auditioning for specialized music colleges. His current course of study at the Conservatory includes Conga and Bongo with George Delgado, Afro-Cuban Folkloric drumming with Louis Bauzo, Latin Youth Ensemble level III with Ramon Rodriguez and he also participates in a Level II Adult Latin Ensemble also led by Mr. Rodriguez. He has great hands, an excellent inner sense of time, is an excellent reader and great section player and is now beginning to teach younger students.  He is equally gifted as a dancer and is a member of Danza Fiesta, a theatrical dance troupe led by Gilda Rivera Pantojas and also performs with Los Pleneros de la 21. He plays percussion professionally with Aurora y Zon del Barrio.

Max Starcevic-Castro – Twelve year old Max Starcevic- Castro first came to Harbor Conservatory six years ago enrolling in a Djembe West African drumming class, taught by Sean Clements and from that experience –a drummer was born. His current curriculum now includes Afro-Cuban Folkloric drumming with Louis Bauzo, Bongo with George Delgado, Drumset with Johnny Almendra, Rumba Workshop for teens with David Oquendo, and he participates in the Latin Youth Ensemble level I with Ramon Rodriguez.  With aspirations to one day compose and arrange music, Max is also studying piano, reading and theory.  Max displays surprising agility and coordination for a student his age, and this is further enhanced by his facility to quickly memorize and repeat rhythmic patterns, all driven by his profound interest and love for the music.

Pre-Professional Latin Music Program

As a student advances, their curriculum expands to include a variety of classes with a corresponding increase in class fees. Students in the Pre-professional Program are all on partial scholarship, enabling us to foster talented students while relieving them of financial pressure that often force them to drop out. The goal of the Pre-Professional program is to prepare teenage students for entry into specialized performing arts high schools and colleges and ultimately professional performing arts careers. Students are encouraged to continue their studies on the college level, and are taken on tours of major music conservatories.  Conservatory graduates have gone on to study at such prestigious schools as the Berklee School of Music in Boston, SUNY at Purchase, and the renowned Jazz Program at the New School.

The Harbor’s Latin Music Program was designed to ensure the future of an art form truly unique to New York City that celebrates our country’s multi-cultural heritage. While its complexity and vibrancy have captivated audiences the world over, the music has been marginalized in this country for many years, along with its creators and their communities. Harbor Conservatory has taken Latin music into the Conservatory, developing formal curriculum to ensure that the knowledge and traditions are preserved and passed on to the next generation.

HARBOR CONSERVATORY FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS, now in its 40th year, was established by Boys & Girls Harbor and offers pre-professional training in the disciplines of dance, instrumental music, voice and theater arts to students ages 4-21. The Conservatory is unique in its focus on pre-teen and teenage talent development through special ensembles, public performances, and career counseling and placement. Harbor students have been accepted into specialized high schools and colleges, and have appeared on commercials, television, Broadway and radio. While the Conservatory prepares young people for careers in the arts, it also helps those who do not pursue this direction gain the skills and confidence that are needed to succeed in education, employment and positive family and community life. For more information on the Harbor Conservatory please call 212/427-2244 ext. 573 or visit www.harborconservatory.org

Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts is the first New York City member of the Berklee City Music Network of the Berklee College of Music and is a recipient of support from the NAMM Foundation.

BOYS & GIRLS HARBOR founded in 1937 by Anthony D. Duke, and now under the direction of Dr. Thomas Howard,  is a seventy-three –year-old multi-service youth agency positively affecting the lives of over 2,500 children and their families annually through education, cultural awareness and character development. Since its inception, The Harbor has maintained its view of the primacy of the performing arts in the quest for a holistic and satisfying life for children and teens. For more information please visit www.theharbor.org

Posted by on Dec 5 2010. Filed under Features, Music, New York. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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