History: Our Founders

Conchita Espinosa
(February 23, 1914 – September 19, 2006)

At the age of 14, Conchita Espinosa graduated from the “Conservatorio Internacional de Música” in Havana, Cuba as a professor of piano and music theory. She continued her music education with renowned professors and artists Joaquín Nin, Ernesto Berumen and Jasha Fishermann, and went on to become a concert pianist in Mexico, Cuba and the U.S. In 1933, at the age of 19, Espinosa founded “La Academia Musical Conchita Espinosa” in Havana. By 1959, the Academy – which included an elementary school as well as music and dance programs – had 450 students.

Three decades later, Espinosa continued her life´s work as a teacher of music in Miami, Florida. In 1963, she opened Conchita Espinosa Academy in Miami, in the garage of a small home on SW 22nd Avenue and First Street- the neighborhood that would later become Little Havana. Registrations at the school surged and the school flourished. In 1984, Conchita Espinosa Academy (CEA) moved to a 10-acre parcel at 12975 SW 6th Street. Today, CEA houses students in grades K3 to eighth grades, as well as Conchita Espinosa Conservatory of the Arts (CEC).  Students at CEA and CEC continue Conchita’s legacy of personal, academic, and artistic excellence.

The late composer Ernesto Lecuona, considered by many to be one of Cuba’s most distinguished musicians, declared the following about Conchita Espinosa:

You were born to teach.  You have the divine gift of transforming the student and accomplishing the maximum, always bringing out his personality. That is a gift from God.”

Ernesto Lecuona speaking about Conchita Espinosa

Throughout the years Conchita Espinosa Conservatory of the Arts has been blessed with some of the best teachers who shared Conchita’s dedication to arts education.  In the past we have been fortunate to have teachers like Martha Mahr, Rosita Segovia, Dulce Anaya, Michael Fokine, and Elena del Cueto, among others. We continue to have the finest teachers available working with our students.

For over five decades, Conchita’s dream has been carried on by her daughter, Maribel Z. Diaz, Director Emerita, her granddaughters Ana Diaz-Zubieta, Conservatory Director, and Carol Diaz-Zubieta, CEA Director, as well as the Conservatory teachers who work together knowing that at the heart of each performance is the core of what Conchita’s legacy is all about: “¡Ser mejor, mejor y mejor!”

During her extensive career, Conchita received many honors, including:

  • Richard and Dorothy Lear Memorial “Distinguished Educator Award” presented to her in March 1994
  • “Legacy of Excellence Award” presented by General Motors during Hispanic Heritage Festival in 1999
  • “Conchita Espinosa Day” proclamations from both the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County.
  • In 2001, S.W. 6th street – which fronts Conchita Espinosa Academy – was named “Conchita Espinosa Way.”
  • Medalla de Excelencia Nacional Cubana from the Instituto de San Carlos de Cayo Hueso presented to Conchita in May 2006

Donations in memory of Conchita may be made to the following

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
www.stjude.org
Attention: Memorial Department, 501 St. Jude’s Place, Memphis, TN  38105
Conchita Espinosa “Celebration of Life” Fund, Account #: 16785278

Miami Lighthouse for the Blind
www.miamilighthouse.org
601 S.W. 8th Avenue, Miami, FL  33130
Attention: Children’s Endowment on behalf of Conchita Espinosa

Alicia Espinosa

(December 22, 1917 – August 18, 2017)

“Beautiful buildings stand on solid foundations, and CEA stands on Conchita’s legacy and the unfailing strength and love of her younger sister, Alicia.”

Alicia Espinosa was born on December 22, 1917. She grew up in Havana, Cuba loving to play the piano, reading, and being a loving friend and sister to Conchita. She encouraged and supported Conchita when she decided to open a musical kindergarten in 1933 and for the next 80 years she fostered Conchita’s dreams of building a school and conservatory and made sure they worked. Alicia was the one who did the practical side of running a successful place for learning and growing. She was the one who handled the finances, the paperwork, and the numerous logistics that go into guiding a school. She was the first one to arrive each day, turning on the lights, greeting the children, and preparing everything for students and teachers to have a place where they could soar. Alicia was also a gifted piano teacher herself. She had a special talent for the coaxing of little fingers to the right keys and correct positions and helping them find joy in the music they created. She was never one to seek the limelight. She didn’t look for recognition and praise. She had no love of power, but she knew deeply the power of love and shared that with everyone she knew. She worked quietly, dedicating her life to Conchita, Maribel and Luis, Carol and Ana, and the school. She made a difference with her loyalty, her consistency, and her gifts of music and good sense.

JOIN THE LEGACY

For 87 years, Conchita Espinosa Conservatory of the Arts (CEC) has maintained their commitment to the development of young artists. CEC offers students exceptional technical and artistic training within a nurturing environment that allows them to develop into human beings with a deep understanding, appreciation, and respect for the Arts. Enrollment is open to the community and not limited to students from the Academy. Classes are also available for professionals and adults.