Alberto Suarez Discusses Classical Music and the Latino Community

Principal Horn of the Kansas City Symphony Alberto Suarez, who previously taught masterclasses at UMKC, returned to campus to talk about the interaction of Latinos and classical music last Tuesday.

Classical music is often remembered as the realm of DWEMs, or “dead white European males.” Suarez emphasized the idea that there is room for more to be done to encourage young Latinos to pursue careers in classical music. The format of the conversation was question and answer, and Suarez took advantage of the informal format to discuss his personal passion for music and his path to success as a professional musician. He also discussed his parents’ lack of familiarity with career opportunities in classical music.

“[My parents] had no idea that you could make a living performing music,” noted Suarez.

Suarez grew up in Miami, Fl. and later attended Florida International University, Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill., and the New England Conservatory of Music. Suarez has served as the Principal Horn of the Kansas City Symphony for 11 years.

“People really value the orchestra here,” said Suarez, adding that Kansas City was unique in the process of how it screens and hires musicians for the Symphony.

According to Suarez, the Symphony is active in terms of connections and interactions with the larger musical community and pursues a high level of racial and gender diversity, with a male to female ratio of about 50-50.

In reference to potential racial obstacles in his path over the years, Suarez said, “I purposefully tried to perfect my craft.”

The Director of the Latino Studies Department at UMKC, Dr. Clara Irazabal, had a worthwhile summary of the conversation given by Mr. Suarez. “I was particularly impressed by Alberto’s personal history of persistence and dedication as well as his investment in bringing more appreciation for composers and musicians of color in the orchestra world,” said Irazabal. In her opinion, persistence pays off for people like Alberto Suarez, who are willing to put in the time and effort required to achieve success.

cmoffett@unews.com

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