It looks like curtains for the Casals Festival

It looks like curtains for the Casals Festival


norman lebrecht

December 15, 2019

The annual festival founded by Pablo Casals 64 years ago in his exile island of Puerto Rico has suspended operations die to lack of funds.

The next festival in March 2020 is still being advertised but the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra has been told that the event cannot afford to pay musicians or soloists. Unless there is a sudden cash injection, the festival is finished.


  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    It is amazing it survived to this day. People have been speaking of the inevitable death of classical music for almost a century now. If a classical music festival in Puerto Rico lasts until now, then I am very confident of the survival of classical music (as long as intelligent life could survive in this planet).

  • Pierre says:

    Shame. In any case, we are still lucky to have the wonderful Prades Festival and Academy in the south of France. Always a pleasure to go there and see some very high quality artists and talented young musicians from all over the world.

  • Letha says:

    The maestro would have said: “Well, you know, if it dies, it dies..”

  • Ricky Irizarry says:

    As a long standing observer and participant of this Festival, I would like to report that efforts are being made, not only to save the Festival Casals, but -more importantly- the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra. The PRSO was also envisioned by Pau Casals and has been unquestionably fulfilling its obligations, above and beyond the call of duty, as a government funded cultural institution for over 60 years. This is not the first time this Festival and this orchestra have been in jeopardy. The 1970s saw the abrupt cancellation of one of the Festival’s editions and a bitter strike by the PRSO, conflicts predicated on issues not too dissimilar to the ones faced right now by both organizations. We would like to invite Mr. Lebrecht’s readers to monitor the situation and to get a copy of an anthology of English language music criticism in Puerto Rico, assembled by Dr. Donald Thompson and Maestro Francis Schwartz, appropriately titled “Concert Life in Puerto Rico, 1957-1992: Views and Reviews.” Despite the elapsed length of time the opinions expressed by both writers still hold true and shed light on the current state of affairs with various art-oriented institutions on this island. It must be noted that most of these institutions are either fully funded by the Puertorrican government or receive some type of financial assistance from the state. Amongst those institutions please permit me to mention: the Escuelas Libres de Música, the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music, Puerto Rico’s Corporation for Public Broadcasting (WIPR, Radio and TV), the Casals Festival, the Puerto Rico Symphony. Of interest to your readers: Mrs. Casals-Istomin still oversees the Festival whose Music Director is Chilean conductor Maestro Maximiano Valdés, also Music Director of the Puerto Rico Symphony. Thanks for looking after us Mr. Lebrecht. (P.S. Thanks for “Why Mahler?” I also went looking for Mahler in Vienna; just like you said…)

  • Alex says:

    Puerto Rico was recently devastated by Hurricane Maria, and had its finances devastated by the Trump administration and its refusal to readily assist the island with much needed repairs and funding. However, funding was made available for Trump’s own residence – $17 million – even though there was no apparent damage.

  • Bill says:

    The biggest reason for the death of this festival is the death of Puerto Rico itself.

    Years of corruption and mis-management by members of both political parties, with the final blow supplied by the current administration, who aren’t even completely aware that the inhabitants of the island are American citizens.

    Or at least they would like to forget that inconvenient fact.

  • Ramon Figueroa says:

    A law has been proposed in Puerto Rico to have elderly people sell their properties in exchange for health care. Just to give you an idea how bad things are over there. The politicians are making obscene amounts of money while killing culture and trying to Disnefy San Juan and pretty much neglecting any part of the country they can’t exploit. It is a horror in every front.