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MIFA, NEPM and GBH Music announce new digital series of contemporary chamber music inspired by Puerto Rico

The Victory Players with composer J.J. Peñya Aguayo and members of Bomba de Aqui: dancer Brenda Cepeda and drummers Saul Penaloza and Julian Gerstin.
The Victory Players with composer J.J. Peñya Aguayo and members of Bomba de Aqui: dancer Brenda Cepeda and drummers Saul Penaloza and Julian Gerstin.

May 20, 2022, Springfield, Mass. — NEPM, MIFA and GBH Music now present El Puerto Rico 4: The Rich Port, a series of 10 contemporary classical works inspired by Puerto Rico and performed by The Victory Players. Videos of the performances will be made available for streaming by NEPM and GBH Music.

El Puerto Rico, which debuted in 2018, is the brainchild of Tianhui Ng — music director of the Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra and the Pioneer Valley Symphony — and Don Sanders, executive artistic director of Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts (MIFA). The project has commissioned new classical music compositions inspired by Puerto Rico for the Victory Players, a MIFA-founded ensemble of highly talented young musicians from throughout the United States that come to Holyoke for an annual residency under the direction of Ng.

In June of 2021, NEPM, MIFA and GBH Music collaborated to bring The Victory Players and Music Director Ng to GBH’s Fraser Performance Studio in Boston to perform ten chamber music pieces composed for “El Puerto Rico.” Works by Armando Bayolo, Gabriel Bouche Caro, Johanny Navarro, José J. Peña Aguayo, Christian Quiñones, Iván Enrique Rodriguez, Tony Solitro, Omar Surillo, and Liliya Ugay were recorded. In between rehearsals and tapings, each composer sat down for an interview with Brian McCreath, director of production at GBH Music.

Now, videos of each composition will be released for streaming every week at nepm.org/elpuertorico and classicalwcrb.org. Each weekly release will include a remastered video of one of the compositions played by the Victory Players and conducted by Tianhui Ng, a video of the interview with the composer and GBH Music’s Brian McCreath, English and Spanish language transcriptions of the interview, and a bio of the composer. The first installment, released this week, features "What My Mother Wrote" by Christian Quiñones.

In the coming weeks, classical music enthusiasts will have access to the other thrilling works in the series:

  • “Nadie puede dar lo que no tiene” by Armando Bayolo
  • “i. Washy” from Ni Fú, Ni Fa: Los cuentos de siempre by Gabriel Bouche Caro
  • “Belén: Un canto sagrado a mis ancestros” (A sacred chant to my ancestors) by Johanny Navarro
  • “Prints of Lost Breath” by José J. Peña-Aguayo, featuring Holyoke’s Bomba de Aqui
  • “Transmutación Inerte” (Inert Transmutation) by Iván Enrique Rodríguez
  • “Canción Exaltada” by Tony Solitro
  • “Pitorro” and “Isla Verde” by Omar Surillo
  • “Island of Enchantment” by Liliya Ugay

The MIFA Victory Players 2022 residency will start May 30 in Holyoke, Massachusetts. "Sí Se Puede” (Yes We Can), co-produced by MIFA and NEPM, will present new works exploring the Puerto Rican and Mexican American experience in a live public concert at Mount Holyoke College on Saturday, June 11.
The Victory Players include Nathan Ben-Yehuda, piano; Clare Monfredo, cello; Giovanni A. Perez, flute; Robert Rocheteau, percussion; Eric Schultz, clarinet; Elly Toyoda, violin; Tianhui Ng, music director

“El Puerto Rico” is supported by the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation, Friends of MIFA Victory Theatre, Mass Cultural Council, and Victory Theatre Catalyst Donors Donald and Michelle D’Amour.


Over the past 28 years, MIFA has presented the finest examples of contemporary practice in performing, visual, and literary arts, bringing esteemed artists and world-class events to the region. MIFA serves the economic revitalization of Holyoke and the Pioneer Valley through the preservation and reopening of the historical landmark Victory Theatre. While the Victory undergoes renovation, MIFA presents events in a variety of other venues and virtually, to enhance Holyoke and the region’s reputation in arts & entertainment and build an appetite for programming at the reopened theater. Learn more at www.mifafestival.org.


New England Public Media is a community-supported, independent non-profit organization based in Springfield, Massachusetts. Through a deep commitment to independent local journalism, trusted educational content, inspired cultural offerings, and civic engagement, NEPM endeavors to share new voices and inspire new conversations. It provides audiences with a broad array of local and national programs across all media — TV, radio, online, and mobile, including PBS and NPR programs as well as locally produced series, podcasts and specials. Its four digital TV channels, and two radio networks present news, jazz and classical music, documentaries, talk, drama, plus cultural and educational programming.

For more information, visit nepm.org or follow NEPM on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


Vanessa Cerillo
Senior Director, Marketing, Communications and Events
New England Public Media