By: Gladys I. Figueroa Toro
November 11 of 2011
The Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) created an university band in 1914 in the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez Campus which at that time was called the College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts (CAAM). The first director was Don Juan Madera, brother of the famous “danza” composer Simon Madera; who secured a place in history by his active participation in music.
Even though Don Juan Madera was the first director, it was Don Celso Torres, the director in 1945, that solidified the department.
The band started to be recognized because of their interpretation of the College Anthem, marching, and the diversity of concerts offered in the west side. The department created the different groups, the marching band, the concert band and the orchestra.
According to an article in the band website, it was in 1968 when the college was renamed as the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus, the band became part of the Deanery of Students under the department of Band and Orchestra. Through the years it has been led by the professors Enrique Matos, Dad and Carlos Weber.
There’s also another article in the website by Alessandra Otero that also points that their main mission was, and still is, to teach the students a good understanding of music and give them a way to implement the values of their culture in non-academic ways, so they can also expand their musical and artistic side.
“I wanted to be part of the UPRM band because it is the best band in the system and what I had seen, motivated me to become a part of it. I have been in it for three years and what I like most about it is that I can keep doing what I love which is playing music with my saxophone and represent my university”, said Armando, a member of the UPRM
The band is composed of a concert and marching group. Both of them contain diversities of music including the traditional hymn and popular music. They include woodwind,
percussion, and brass instruments like the saxophone. It has become one of the best bands in P.R., mostly recognized for its fine tuning sound.
However, the marching band is strictest and demanding of all since it’s coming from the ROTC, which is known for their strict formations and some dancing in parades and major events.
“The rehearsals are tough because being a marching band means most of the time we rehearse in the sun but there are also times when it’s easy because we rehearse the songs in the classroom. One thing I would never forget is the best experience I had playing in the Central American Games Mayagüez 2010 even though the rehearsals were exhausting and required loads of time”, said Armando once again.
It was in 1980 that professor Angel Morales, who was outstanding as the director of COPANI during the Pan-American Games 1979, took the band in a new direction making it the Fantasia Band capable of maneuvering on the ground as described in the uprm website.
In 1981, the flag bearers were integrated to the band giving new look to the musical group with their choreographies.
Through all of the years of its existence, the band has clearly left some memorable marks, socially and culturally, not only in Puerto Rico but also in other places. For example, they participated as the first student aggrupation in the traditional Puerto Rican Parade in the fifth avenue in New York City on June 2009 along with its flag bearers described in Mariam Rosa article “Banda Colegial brilla en Nueva York”.
Aside from participating in parades and all the marching and presentations, they have also been the official band of “Las Justas” of the interuniversity athletic league for more than 25 years and are also the oldest in Puerto Rico.
This year, the marching band has grown in number having a total of approximately 130 musicians including the flag bearers. It has been currently directed since 1987, by the trumpeter Efrén Gregory Ramírez.
“I have been directing bands since I was fourteen years old and entered directly as the director of the band of Mayagüez”. “I like being a director because I like to direct the band and what I like most of being part of it is that every year comes with different circumstances and experiences,” Efren Gregory said.
“There was a time when we were in an activity and I was arguing strongly with the students because they were late and it turned out that my watch was ahead,” Mr. Gregory said.
Two of the most important activities were the 50th and 75th anniversary and the performance in the Central American Games Mayagüez 2010. The last important big event the band participated in was the march commemorating the hundredth year anniversary of the university which was celebrated September 22, 2011 from the band department to the Plaza de Colon and closing back at the band department.
Word Count 
Otero, Alessandra. “Un icono colegial”.uprm.edu. 21 Sep. 2007. 19 Oct .2011.
Rosa, Mariam L. “Banda Colegial brilla en Nueva York.” uprm.edu. 19 Jun. 2009. 19 Oct. 2011.
Efrén Gregory Ramírez
Armando E. Porrata