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BU professors present Latin music at Marsh Chapel

Boston University’s Pardee School of Global Studies’ Center for Latin American Studies hosted a recital of Latin American art songs and a welcome reception at Marsh Chapel this Wednesday, featuring David Guzman, assistant professor of music and voice, and Douglas Sumi, lecturer in music and the chair of the vocal department.

David Guzman singing
Boston University Assistant Professor of Music and Voice David Guzman performing at Marsh Chapel Wednesday evening. The Center for Latin American Studies arranged the concert, which featured songs by Latin American composers from the 17th to early 19th centuries. MOHAN GE/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Guzman said he was “happy” to be singing again for the first time in many months due to the pandemic, especially with his “angel” Sumi, who performed with him, by his side. Tenor Guzman passionately sang a variety of operatic songs with Sumi’s piano accompaniment.

Guzman sang 14 pieces of the late 19th to early 20th-century Latin American composers.

Guzman said he began working at BU in July 2020 remotely. He was born and raised in Ibagué, Colombia, and moved to Bogatá to begin his music education. Following this move, he pursued his master’s degree at Texas Christian University.

After living in New York for 14 years, he uprooted and moved to Boston to teach at BU. His students at the event said he recommends students explore Latin music, and in the Spring, he’s teaching a course in Latin American literature.

Sumi and Guzman have been colleagues for the past year and a half and, although they were virtual and coffee friends, they only started musically working together a few weeks ago, Sumi said.

The highlight of performing and preparing for this recital Sumi said is coming together and rehearsing.

“Then that’s really where the fun and the magic begins,” Sumi said. “Every time is different. There were a bunch of things we did tonight that we did not rehearse.”

In preparation for the performance, Sumi said he was “spending time with the text and the poetry, and then how that translates into the music and the piano.”

As a performer, Guzman encouraged anyone to attend the concert or similar concerts. He said, “everybody really can relate to this music, to the poetry, it’s poetry about love, the rhythms,” and encouraged people to be open to new music.

“People don’t go because they think that they don’t know the music and if they don’t know the music they won’t enjoy it,” Guzman said. “They need to be open to whatever happens on stage.”

The performance was structured by Guzman selectively as a set of underground Latin American art songs. He said the theme of illustrating “the hidden jewels” of the Latin American art song genre was a large focus of his research.

For his finale, Guzman sang a childhood television song and played his cuatro, a Venezuelan stringed instrument. This light-hearted song was about a cow and contrasted his powerful tenor voice.

The appetizers and desserts served after the recital during the reception were the “best spread I’ve ever seen for a recital,” said Mirah Johnston, an attendee at the concert and a sophomore in CFA.

The church was great for acoustics, and Guzman is a “big acoustic[s] guy,” Lily Kutner, a sophomore in CFA, said. Johnston and Kutner are both Guzman’s students.

Sumi said the recital was the first of many live performances since the pandemic — even though he’s performed in events online — it’s different in person.

“It was just super easy and really great to make music together,” Sumi said.


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