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Music alumna uses compositions for cultural education

Music alumna uses compositions for cultural education


JUNE 29, 2020 — When Edna Longoria ’12 decided to attend UTSA, she desired to study architecture. However, her true happiness was at a piano keyboard, so during her freshman year she changed majors and followed her heart.

Since receiving her bachelor’s degree in music composition, Longoria has attended the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at California State University for her master’s in music composition. She is the recipient of several awards and recently was awarded a grant from the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture.

We spoke with Longoria to discuss her plans as a Mexican American music composer.

Where did you spend your childhood?

I was born in McAllen but was raised in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico.

“Music is a great outlet for youth to express themselves in a safe and artistic way.”

How do you plan to make a difference as a Mexican American composer?

I hope to inspire other Mexican American musicians to follow their dreams and to never give up, especially women composers, since there aren’t many of us. I hope that can change soon. I also like working with organizations that help Hispanic children get music opportunities, such as the Classical Music Institute of San Antonio.

What do you plan to do with the NALAC grant?

The NALAC grant will support two new music compositions that I will be writing for CMI, which provides classical music education to Bexar County youth during outreach programs. One of my pieces will be written for the CMI faculty and the second one will be written for the CMI students. The latter will allow for me to collaborate with the underserved young musicians of Bexar County during the two-week program.

One of my goals as a composer is to give back to my community and to increase awareness as well as an appreciation of the benefits of music education. CMI performs outreach concerts throughout the year, and my piece will be showcased in one of these concerts.

How does your work benefit youth on San Antonio’s West Side?

I believe music is a great outlet for youth to express themselves in a safe and artistic way. A lot of parents have two jobs or even three jobs and aren’t really able to spend much time with their kids because they are trying to provide them with a better life. After-school music classes are a great way to bring the community together as well as foster a safe environment for kids to express themselves emotionally, artistically and mentally.

This is one of the reasons why I like collaborating with organizations such as CMI. They have an amazing goal, which is to provide free music classes to underserved communities here in San Antonio. They just need more financial support to make this an all-year program.

Tell us about your participation in the Chicana Art Song Project.

The project is a multidisciplinary endeavor aimed at giving voice to Chicana artists in literature, music and the visual arts. The Chicano movement gained momentum in the 1960s and has yet to achieve its goals in most art forms. The movement supported advancement of civil rights and education reform among Mexican American citizens in the United States.

The creator of the project is Dr. Noel Archambeault. She asked if I wanted to be the composer for this project. I quickly said yes when she described it to me. We recently were awarded two grants that have helped with partial funding. The project has 27 poems written by Chicana poets, and so far I have set 13 poems to music. These 13 songs were presented in a concert at UTSA at the Festival of New Music featuring poet Carmen Tafolla as our special guest.

Noel and I are planning to premier all 27 songs at a concert in spring 2021 at Delaware University. We also have plans to perform several songs at Incarnate Word in the future and if we have the funds, Noel would like to tour this recital around South Texas.

Explore the study of music at UTSA.
Learn more about the Department of Music

Finally, what is the biggest lesson you learned during your time at UTSA?

I think one of the best lessons for me was to never give up. I actually didn’t get accepted after my first audition as a music major because I hadn’t had piano lessons for several years. I decided to not give up, so I took piano lessons and I prepared better for the audition, and I got in the second time.

I think this lesson has stuck with me throughout my career every time I feel like giving up, I come back to it and remind myself that everything is possible if you work hard for it.

Pamela Lutrell

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The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

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