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My passion in life is composing and sharing music. I'm a composer, classical guitarist, orchestral/choral conductor, organist and therapeutic musician. Below you can read more about some of my experiences, education and what I do.
Creativity is my main drive in music.
When I was a child I dreamed about being an artist. I loved especially doing abstract art. Then in my high school years I discovered classical music. As I listened, I noticed I could understand its language. After I learned to read music, lacking scores to follow the music and play it, I wrote them down by ear. That was an incredible experience. I always felt intuitively that my strongest area was creating, but I was very shy. I travelled a long way to overcome my shyness. Now that I have no fear, I feel free to share all my music, knowing that through it I share joy, love, compassion, and many other human emotions. My music is very poetic, expressive and it's not stuck in one style. I'm the sum of all I've studied and listened to, so my music covers many styles and periods. I feel at easy composing a simple song, a complex sonata or fugue, etc., in any style from the renaissance through the present. I have been awarded top prizes in competitions and my compositions are performed by internationally acclaimed artists and ensembles. My sacred music, which consists of music for choir, organ, piano and guitar, cover all the church year. Many of my compositions can be heard in my Youtube channel. I have taught music analysis, counterpoint, harmony and music appreciation in several schools, including the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, the Conservatorio Nacional de Música of Santo Domingo, and the Instituto de Cultura y Arte. I studied composition with Tania León, Alice Parker and William Averitt, and counterpoint with the Dominican composer, Manuel Simó.
The classical guitar is my primary instrument.
A: I got in love with the guitar ever since my older brother brought one home. My friend Ney Collins taught me a couple of chords, then I taught myself using the "First Lessons for Guitar by Julio Sagreras." I applied to the National Conservatory of Music of Santo Domingo. At the same time I began taking guitar lessons, I took piano lessons and later organ lessons; so the guitar is my 1st instrument, organ the 2nd, and piano the 3rd.
I got my musical education in the Dominican Republic and the USA.
A: I began my basic musical studies at the local Music Academy "Patria" in San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic, which consisted only of two years of solfege. Later I attended the Conservatorio Nacional de Música of Santo Domingo where I studied with guitar teachers Rafael Lagares and Luis Francisco Simó. Rafael Lagares encouraged me to become a guitarist and we played a few guitar duets in different places. I became disappointed with the conservatory when it closed for two years, so I tried to find other school options. At that time the Universidad Adventista Dominicana in Bonao was beginning a music program with Rafael Chalas, but I quit because I was the only music student and I didn't receive any music classes the first two weeks. There was no other school, so I lost two years of education. Classes later resumed at the conservatory but after a few years I decided it was better to study in the USA. I went to New York City and attended Brooklyn College because it was the most affordable school, and did my BM there. Luckily, it was there that I found a great education. I have good memories of Sherman Van Solkema, my wonderful music theory teacher who showed me how to compose music from different periods. After I finished my BM, I went to the University of Texas at Austin, staying only a year because I opted to go back to the DR to teach music. After about seven years in the DR, I decided to finish my graduate degrees at Shenandoah University, where I got a teaching assistantship.
I have taught music in the Dominican Republic and the USA.
A: I went back to the DR because I was offered a guitar teaching position at the National Conservatory of Music. I also taught at the Instituto de Cultura y Arte in Santiago, which was a great experience with very talented musicians, and at the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo. Now I teach guitar at Mary Baldwin University, at Randolph College, and in my music studio in Charlottesville, VA.
My performance career.
A: I spent seven years teaching in the DR and my career developed slowly at first, as I had to open my way. There wasn't any tradition of solo performers offering regular concert tours in the different towns and provinces, so I traveled to many cities, introducing myself and offering guitar concerts. The 1st concert was at the Centro Cultural Dominico-Americano in Santiago and they agreed to invite me only after watching a video I had left with them. After that, I managed to play often and I had some great and bad experiences doing that. In some places they treated me wonderfully, such as during a solo guitar concert at the Basilica de Higuey, and others. In other places, they promised to cover travel expenses, but didn't. The worst experience I had was at the Universidad Adventista Dominicana in Bonao. I had called the music teacher at that time, Maria Vera, to offer a guitar concert, but he insisted on me traveling from Santo Domingo to Bonao to talk about it in person. I arrived the day we agreed to meet, but I couldn't find him at all in the very small campus. People spread the word and finally he called me from his home which was on the university campus. I asked him where we were going to meet and he told me there was no need to meet as we could talk about the concert by phone. That was weird, but I opted to have faith. I arrived again the day of the concert and I couldn't find him again. People spread the word and he sent me a message that he couldn't organize the guitar concert and he wouldn't be present, but that some students would help me gather some people for the concert. My faith didn't pay off.
After a few years, my performing career began to develop and I was intrigued when I noticed a note on my studio door at the Conservatory of Music from Acroarte (which organized the Premios Casandra, now Premios Soberano) asking me to bring some documents. I didn't know who they were. I ended up being nominated several times to those awards while I was in the DR and won once. I have been invited to perform twice at the Ibero-Americano Guitar Festival in Washington DC, twice at the Eastern Shore Guitar Festival and Workshop in Maryland, at the Bethlehem Guitar Festival at Moravian College, and guitar festivals and competitions in the Dominican Republic, among others. I have performed two solo recitals at Carnegie Hall in NY, at El Teatro Nacional, El Teatro del Cibao, the National Conservatory of Music, the Universidad Autónoma and the Universidad Central del Este in the Dominican Republic, Bilkent University and Marmara University in Turkey, East Carolina University, University of Virginia, George Washington University, Pacific Union College, City College, Randolph College, Sweet Briar College, Brooklyn College, Mary Baldwin College, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, and Shenandoah University in the USA, among others; plus many churches, public libraries, TV and Radio stations throughout the USA, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Turkey, Venezuela, and Canada. I have organized seven guitar festivals in the Dominican Republic, where I have invited renowned guitarists and I organize the Charlottesville Classical Guitar Festival & Competition and the Charlottesville Classical Guitar Concert Series.
I'm an orchestral and choral conductor.
A: I did a MM in orchestral conducting and did choral conducting studies, too. I have led the Filarmónica del Cibao, the Shenandoah University Symphony Orchestra, and the Sinfónica Juvenil "Juan Pablo Duarte". As a choral conductor, I have led in the DR the "National Police Choir", the Supreme Court of Justice Choir and I have been a section leader at the "National Choir", all in the Dominican Republic. I studied orchestral conducting with Jan Wagner, Jan Wnek, Fernando Geraldes and Scott Nelson; and choral conducting with Robert Shafer, and Steven Cooksey.
I'm an organist and church music director.
A: I grew up with church music and it'll be always an important part of my life. I have worked in churches as organist and choir/music director for many years. I have a graduate church music certificate from Shenandoah University, which is a 3-year summer program. In this program I learned about the American Guild of Organists and its certification program. So now I have four of the five professional certifications that the AGO (American Guild of Organists) awards. I perform sacred music concerts in churches and I am the music director and organist at the Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Charlottesville, Virginia. I studied organ with Frank Speller, Steven Cooksey, Dale Krider and David Norfrey.