Conservatory Spotlight: Víctor Díaz Guerra

Víctor Díaz Guerra (left) currently studies clarinet with Yehuda Gilad. After he receives his Master of Music degree this year, he hopes to continue studying at Colburn to pursue an Artist Diploma. Víctor is from Cáceres, Spain.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and style.

Why did you decide to study at Colburn?
Because of Yehuda Gilad. He’s the clarinet maestro, everyone wants to play for him! I’d heard such incredible things about his teaching and he has had many former students in great orchestras all around the world. When I first played for him a couple of months before the Colburn audition, it made my goal even clearer: I had to study with him! He wants to develop each student’s individual voice and he gives us a lot of freedom with our musical ideas. There isn’t any wrong idea, but we need to convince the listener that whatever we play is the best way to do it.

What is your favorite thing that you’ve been involved with at Colburn?
Chamber music and having the chance to work with great musicians, but also my good friends. I’ve played with a lot of different students and I’ve learned so much working with all of them, from the first woodwind quintet until the last Brahms trio. This is essential to me because sometimes we get stuck on our own instrument, on the technique, but music is way more than that. It’s also great to work with the faculty members, guest artists, conductors, playing at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Colburn Chamber Music Society concerts… There are many things so it’s hard to pick just one.

What are your career plans?
I love playing music so my dream is to be in a major orchestra one day. But I also enjoy the solo and chamber repertoire. It’d be great if I can do all of that; I want to be a well rounded musician. After I finish my master’s this year I’d like to pursue an Artist Diploma, hopefully with my teacher Yehuda Gilad, so I can prepare for the orchestra auditions and the international competitions to come.

How did you get started playing the clarinet?
I fell in love with the clarinet at a very early age, when I was attending a concert of my favorite folk band. There was a clarinet player named Víctor, same as me, and I went to say hi with my dad after the concert. Víctor was very nice to me and he even showed me a few things on the clarinet. After that, I told my dad I would play clarinet in the future. Then at the age of seven, it was time to start at the music school in my hometown and, of course, I chose the clarinet.

But music was a part of me even before I was born. I come from a musical family and I’ve been listening to a lot of music since I was inside my mom’s womb. My parents used to sing a lot to me and now they tell me that I knew more than 50 songs when I was only nine months old, before I could even talk, and it was apparently in tune!

What do you think of the classical music field today, and what are you doing to engage with it?
I see a big distance between classical music and young people. Access to this music is difficult and expensive for us, and I think attending live concerts is something very important to get more people into the classical world. The atmosphere is different; it’s unique and special. Also, on Spanish television, for example, classical concerts are normally during times when not many people watch, like 8 am on Saturdays. We should change this!

I try to be engaged with all kind of listeners and be connected with them at every single performance. It doesn’t matter if it’s a great venue, like Walt Disney Concert Hall, or a public park, or a high school. All of them deserve all our passion and all our best. We need to transmit all the music we have inside so the audience leaves the concert having lived an unforgettable experience.

Why do you love music?
I love music because it can move people, and change people. It’s an amazing art because you can express what can’t be expressed with words. Then, the connection you make during a rehearsal or a concert with the other performers and with the audience is just something moving and satisfying. I’d say music is the most powerful weapon that musicians can use to make a better world.

What are some things you enjoy outside music?
I really like sports, both watching and playing a lot of different ones, but soccer is my favorite above all. You know in Spain everybody wants to be a professional soccer player when we’re kids. I also like nature, going hiking, and going to the beach. We’re very lucky here in Los Angeles because it’s a very diverse city where you can find everything, or almost everything. I love walking around and discovering new places.

But I’d say friends are the most important to me. I love spending time and doing all I mentioned before with them. I’m honestly so lucky here at Colburn because I found a great group of friends, a new family that will always remain in my life. There’s a great environment at the school and I really think this is something extremely important when you’re looking for success. People aren’t just amazing musicians here but also fun and great human beings.

The weekly Saturday Spotlight series highlights our outstanding faculty and staff from across the school. Read other spotlight interviews.