MACSA Alumni are making phenomenal accomplishments in their professional careers! For this month’s MACSA Center Stage Alumni spotlight, we’re featuring MACSA Alumnus Josh Cavazos.
Josh Cavazos is an accomplished pianist and composer. He began his musical journey with piano lessons at the age of seven. Josh recalls, “I distinctly remember being in the car with my dad and hearing Chopin’s “Revolutionary Etude” on the radio for the first time. I was absolutely taken with the piano and with that piece in particular. As a second grader, I remember telling my dad that I “want to be able to do that when I grow up!” Thankfully, my parents signed me up for lessons shortly after that experience.” Josh began his studies with piano teachers Jun and Dina Sorio at Lackland AFB. In middle school, Josh started studying with Ken Thompson at MACSA and continued there through high school. Josh then studied with Tim Woolsey at Texas State University where he received his Undergraduate Degree and eventually a Graduate Degree in Composition. During his Graduate studies, Josh worked with faculty composers Michael Ippolito, Thomas Clark, and Ricky Hall.
With his composition endeavors dating back to his high school days, Josh shares that he loves “the experience of developing a musical theme in composing.” He compares composing to writing a story, “there is always something uniquely special to me about crafting a theme from the initial idea, then setting out to “sketch” the ideas into a full piece of music.” He shared more about his composition process, “there have been many occasions where I have an idea for a musical theme, sit down at the piano to compose, and before I realize it, hours have gone by! It is typically around this point in the process that finishing the piece becomes like a quest for me. I will try to brainstorm other sections needed for it and/or orchestration to it while I am away from the instrument so that when I return to writing, I can try to create it as efficiently as I can.”
As a performer, Josh is then able to “communicate the “story” to the audience.” He most enjoys “bringing out different emotions of the piece, creating movement to align with each section, and connecting with the piece to express the main idea of it are what bring a great amount of joy in performing.” Josh is in the unique position where he can perform exactly what he creates, which adds a layer of connection to the piece and the audience. “The hope for me is that others connect with the music I am writing and performing, which brings the most fulfillment for me out of the entire composition and performance process.”
Josh is currently working on several projects and has more lined up for the fall. “Some projects that I am currently producing for others include a children’s music album for my father, a Spanish Worship album for a local artist, and a Christmas music album for another artist in town…I will begin work on a new original composition later this year for piano and cello that will pair with a mini documentary that I am producing.”
Last month, Josh premiered a moving piece that he composed during the COVID-19 pandemic entitled “The Cure”. He shared more about the piece, its origins, and how the project came together:
“The Cure is an original two movement piece for piano and violin, and is my response to the COVID-19 pandemic. When COVID-19 first began impacting our world, I felt anxious and fearful, just like all of us did. I am not a medical doctor, nor am I a researcher, but I felt strongly led to use my skill set to create a new work that would give tribute and hope during a very challenging time in our world. The first movement, Tribute, was written to honor those who have lost their lives to COVID-19. The second movement, Victory, was written to inspire hope to our world, as we continually move toward a global cure.
This piece marks the first time that I have served as composer, orchestrator, coordinator, and producer for a video music production, which was an amazing growing experience. Upon completing the composing and orchestrating of the piece last summer, I worked to seek out a team to bring this piece to life. I am truly grateful to the individuals who believed in this cause with me enough to use their time to help create and present “The Cure:” Stephanie Westney: Violin, David Brown: Mix/Mastering Mastering Engineer, Rick Alvarez: Videography, Justin Schneider: Camera Assistant, Jorge Palomo: Video Editor, Mack Damon: studio owner of Stone Creek Sound (live video location). From composition to finished production, “The Cure” took around a year to complete, and it would not have been possible without the team that I was fortunate enough to work with.”
The pandemic significantly impacted musicians everywhere. When asked how the circumstances affected Josh’s relationship with music. “COVID-19 has impacted my overall relationship with music by reminding me of a lifelong goal that I have with composing- writing positive, meaningful compositions that people can connect to and be encouraged by. It is my sincere hope that “The Cure” will continue to make a positive impact on people’s lives by serving as a tribute, as well as an agent of hope in the midst of this pandemic.”
You can watch Josh’s performance of “The Cure” on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joshcavazosmusic/videos/841522303102730