Holy Trinity Music School, Port-au-Prince
The Holy Trinity Music School (HTMS) was established in Port-au-Prince in 1956 by Sister Anne-Marie of the Convent of St. Marguerite and is part of the Episcopal Church of Haiti. As a nonprofit institution, HTMS provides training in music for Haitians of all ages and from all social strata. Father David Cesar became director of the music school in the mid 1990’s and it now has a teaching staff of 50 (all trained by the institution) and offers programs that provide musical training at the highest level to over 1500 students in all instrumental and vocal areas.
As the oldest community music school in the country, HTMS is proud to serve as the point of reference in the domain of art music in Haiti. A leader in this field, the school has not only helped to establish other music programs across the country, it also strives to eliminate existing barriers to participation by enabling a diverse group of children, youths and adults to benefit from the good that music study can bring. To this end, HTMS has helped to establish numerous music programs across the country in underserved areas.
Home of the Holy Trinity Philharmonic Orchestra, the country’s foremost such ensemble, HTMS also has a number of training orchestras, bands and several choirs. Long established programs and more recent initiatives have maintained the depth and breadth of offerings at the school:
The Holy Trinity Primary School Program enables youngsters between the ages of 5 and 12 to receive 4 hours of lessons every week and to participate in ensembles. For decades this program has provided the core of the Holy Trinity Philharmonic Orchestra.
The Private Lesson Program enables musicians of all ages to study music and offers opportunities to participate in the appropriate ensembles. Students receive an hour lesson and an hour of music theory each week in addition to their ensemble participation
A teacher training initiative, the Extension Program gives teachers the skills to work effectively with young musicians. Currently it supports programs in Hinche, Mirebalais, Cange and many private schools in the metropolitan area. Through this program the HTMS also offers student scholarships to the 3 week long summer music camp.
The Orchestra Program for at-risk Youth began with the help of the Organization of American States in 2009 (http://www.museum.oas.org/en/oasis). An “El Sistema” type program specifically aimed at youths living in the most disadvantaged areas of the capital, the original idea was to have the program last for three years. However, the program proved to be such a success, both academically and socially, that the school found the resources to be able to continue to offer high quality music education to those most in need. The goals of this program are to reduce the level of violence among young people and to encourage children to stay in school. With the re-orientation and social support that music programs provide, at-risk children and young adults will be able to redirect their talents to become productive members of their society.
The Summer Music Camp has been a part of HTMS since 1971 when the very first camp was held in Leogane (about 25 miles outside of Port-au-Prince). Since then, there has been a music camp every summer, even during the most highly charged moments of political unrest. In 2010, after the complete destruction of the campus and its facilities by the earthquake, the summer program was transferred to Cange, about an hour and a half northeast of the capital. With participation from teachers and students from abroad (in recent years the United States, Spain and Columbia have been well represented), the camp offers a truly international exchange. Along with the daily work of rehearsals, lessons, sectionals, and chamber music, theory, conducting and management classes, the camp offers two recitals a week and very popular Sunday concerts that feature the participation of all of the ensembles: three choirs, a symphonic band and two orchestras! HTMS welcomes the participation of qualified musicians from around the country and gives special attention to the young students of the local satellite programs.
The International Tour first started in 1973 and ever since the Holy Trinity Philharmonic Orchestra, or chamber ensembles of the orchestra, and the Boy Choir have had regular tours in the United States and Canada. Promoting the rich musical culture of Haiti and offering a very positive alternative to the common view of the country, the tours serve to raise awareness of the need to rebuild the Holy Trinity Music School complex that was completely destroyed in the 2010 earthquake and help to provide operating funds for the institution.
The Frantz Casséus Young Guitarist Programwas established in 2011 in collaboration with the Haitiana Music Company and Caracoli. The program is based on an initiative of the American guitarist, Marc Ribot, a former student of Casséus, who wanted to create a program for young Haitian guitarists to support teaching classical guitar and to keep alive the memory of his mentor.
All of BLUME Haiti’s current board members have either taught at the Holy Trinity Music School or were students there or both! In the days following the January 12, 2010 earthquake, those of us in the United States were relieved to learn that there was, thankfully, little loss of life among music school staff and students. We were also incredibly inspired by the fact that the school had gathered its musicians and, in an effort to raise their spirits and the spirits of those around them, had started giving concerts around the city before even a month had passed. This past January 12th marked the fifth anniversary of the earthquake. The Holy Trinity Philharmonic Orchestra participated in the national ceremony of commemoration at which Michel Martelly, President of the Republic of Haiti, spoke to honor those who lost their lives.
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