Growing up in Costa Rica

Sound Impact will embark on a 10-day tour of Costa Rica this August to present a series of masterclasses and chamber music concerts in both rural and urban venues,empowering children through music, serving their communities, and promoting cross-cultural relations. 

by Elizandro Garcia-Montoya

It is my pleasure to write a few words about the importance of Sound Impact’s tour to Costa Rica. I’m a clarinetist born and raised in Costa Rica.  I feel honored to have been invited to join the Sound Impact tour to Costa Rica for many reasons. One of the most important reasons is to bring education and musical supplies to schools in remote areas in Costa Rica.

I grew up in San Ramon, Costa Rica, a small town in the Central Valley about 2 hours northwest of the capital San Jose.  My father, Victor Julio Garcia, started a music program in San Ramon in the 1970s, which received some support from the local high school and the municipal government in San Ramon.

The music program started with a few students and some instruments donated by the municipal government. These instruments had been in storage for many years after the military band era in the 20’s and 30’s. As you can imagine, these instruments were in pretty bad condition, nevertheless they offered an opportunity for young students to make their initial steps as music students.


The program named Youth Orchestra of Instituto Julio Acosta, started with about 9 students. In a few years the program grew rapidly due to my father’s effort and the perseverance of the students, and became an important part of the community life in San Ramon, and later a model for music schools in Costa Rica. In his effort to find ways to make the music program grow in San Ramon, my father encouraged a few students, including myself, to study at the National Conservatory in San Jose. The idea was to expand our musical education at the conservatory, and then come back to San Ramon to share this knowledge with the other students at the school.

The Youth Orchestra of Instituto Julio Acosta in San Ramon grew way beyond its expectations and by the late 1980’s it was one of the most successful music programs in Costa Rica. Students from this program went on to study music at national and international institutions.


One of first students of this music program was Manuel Alpizar, now the director of Sinem in San Ramon. After his initial studies in San Ramon, Manuel Alpizar went on to study at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow.  Many students of this program became not only professional musicians, but also successful professionals in other fields.

The basic premise of the program was to use music as a powerful tool to teach discipline, perseverance and to empower change through music.


Clarinetist Elizandro Garcia-Montoya is an active performer and educator. He has performed with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Charleston Symphony, Houston Grand Opera, Jacksonville Symphony and the State of Mexico Orchestra in Toluca, Mexico.  A prizewinner in the 1999 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, he has performed with groups such as the Chicago Chamber Musicians, Fulcrum Point New Music Project, Pilgrim Chamber Players and The Chicago Ensemble, among others.  Mr. Garcia-Montoya has performed at numerous music festivals including Tanglewood, National Repertory Orchestra, Kent/Blossom Music, International Festival at Round Top, Spoleto/USA and Yale University’s Norfolk Chamber Music Festival.  Mr. Garcia-Montoya completed his master’s degree at Rice University.  He also holds a bachelor’s degree from Baylor University, a professional studies diploma from the Cleveland Institute of Music, and pursued additional post graduate studies at DePaul University.  Mr. Garcia-Montoya lives in Chicago, IL and is currently principal clarinetist of the New Hampshire Music Festival and the New Millennium Orchestra in Chicago.

For more information on our tour, please visit:



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