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Meet Miguel Zazueta of UCSD in La Jolla

Today we’d like to introduce you to Miguel Zazueta.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My full name is Miguel Angel Zazueta Cervera and I was born in Tijuana, México. I started singing when I was 13 years old, singing rock and progressive metal in gigs around Tijuana, and at the same time I started having classical vocal instruction in Belcanto & Co. in Playas de Tijuana, with the soprano Ruth Polío. After the first years of experience, I decided to continue my studies in the Autonomous University of Baja California (UABC) to pursue my bachelor’s degree in music. After I got my degree, I started performing in contemporary opera productions and contemporary music as well as in classical music and other arts such as theater and dance.

During all these years I met incredible teachers such as Carmina Escobar, Jorge Folgueira, Ignacio Clapés, Rossana Peñaloza, Eduardo García Barrios, Olena Galitskaya, Santos Cota, Wilfrido Terrazas,and Álvaro Díaz between many other wonderful teachers. I also had the opportunity to perform in Festival Ópera en la Calle (Tj), Festival Internacional Cervantino(Gto), Festival de Música Nueva (Ens),and in the Centennial Season of the L.A. Philharmonic. I have collaborated with artists and companies as Orquesta de Baja California, L.A. Philharmonic New Music Group, Péndulo Cero, Teatro en el Incendio, Yuval Avital, Ebert Ortiz, Carmina Escobar, Yuval Sharon, and Meredith Monk & Ensemble. I have premiered multiple New Music works as well as two operas, “Bárbara Gandeaga” (2018) by Ernesto Rosas , and “Después el Paraíso” (2018) by Luis Paul Millán.

I believe that my most important and demanding performance has been my participation in the 2019 production of “Atlas” by the composer Meredith Monk, directed by Yuval Sharon, and conducted by Paolo Bortolameolli in the L.A. Phil’s Centennial Season at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The other cast members were amazing and the energy brought by these beautiful group and this wonderful music was unforgettable.

Since last year I’m pursuing my Master’s degree in Contemporary Music Performance at UCSD, with Susan Narucki as my vocal instructor and mentor. I’m also the artistic director of the group “Radical: Vocal Ensemble”, a group of 9 singers and a musical conductor from the area of Baja California. This ensemble is dedicated to the performance of new music and interdisciplinary vocal research. Right now, I’m directing a project called “Voices for Playas de Tijuana” that is a collaboration between the Arts and Community Engagement program from UCSD, the Committee of Citizen Security of Playas de Tijuana, and Radical: Vocal Ensemble, with the goal of creating an artistic product that reflects the needs of the Committee members regarding security, as well as promoting the values and ideals of this Community Organization to the rest of the people in Playas de Tijuana.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It hasn’t really been always easy. At first, I struggled a lot to find my place, to find a way in which my voice felt comfortable, and also to find the music and the art that I, as a person and an artist, wanted to share. I have always been dedicated, so I had some little triumphs, but it wasn’t until I found contemporary music and the new music works when things started to be clear for me. I felt valued by the people creating and performing contemporary music, and also I found a world in which I could use my voice and express myself as I wanted to.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I guess my main artistic project right now is Radical: Vocal Ensemble. After years trying, I finally was able to find a group of singers that had the same interests as I did and we have been working for a little more than a year now. Our goal is to make music and encourage the creation of new music by composers in Baja California and México. We are also interested to find a place for the contemporary repertoire in Baja California Community. We want to make music that makes sense for them, to create and perform thinking in our specific audience, and find the way in which our music can make a demonstrable difference.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
That would be making paper boats with my cousins at my grandparents’ house in Obregón, Sonora when it rained. I can remember the smell, the rain over us, the laughs, the water running along the street.

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