Traveling back home from home

Posted by Maria Vizcarra on Jun 19, 2017 11:28:25 AM



This summer, I was able to go back home from home, compete in a flute competition, meet new friends, and visit family!

It has always been hard for me to decide which place to call “home." Even though I am considered an international student here at WMU, I have been living in the United States for nine years of my life. This is due to the fact that I moved from Peru when I was 12-years-old. As a musician, I could not be more excited to have had the opportunity to train musically in the US and take what I have learned back to where I was born.

My fiancé, Gabe, and I were both able to take a week off work and embark on a beautiful trip back home to Peru for Festival Internacional de Flautistas. Technically, our physical home is here in Michigan, but who can complain about being able to call 2 places home?!

The hardest part about leaving Michigan for a week was leaving my private lesson students as well as my Kalamazoo Kids in Tune students. Something that always made me smile during the week was thinking back to the things my elementary-aged students would ask me:

“Miss Maria! When you come back, can we keep that new headjoint?! We can share right?”

"If you win, that means we get the money right??"

How I love them!

In this blog I will give a brief summary of everything that happened that week. Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, May 21: Rehearsal and rest

This day I had a rehearsal with Alicia Conrad, an incredible pianist and human being. I was very lucky to get to play with her. The “Concurso Internacional de Jóvenes Flautistas” was a Mozart-themed competition for flutists under 28 years old, and we were all required to play complete Mozart concertos. One of the most well-known pieces for flute is the Concerto in G Major by Mozart, which is what I chose to play. One of the hardest things about playing music by Mozart is that everybody has a different interpretation of how it should be played. My professor, Dr. Martha Councell-Vargas, has been my mentor for these past four years, and she has taught me so much about not only perfecting a piece to the smallest details, but also about how to successfully bring my passion to the table when performing and communicating with my audience. Being an artist is so difficult yet so satisfying. We put so many hours of work on a daily basis, but in a competition setting we have one chance to show the panel of judges what we have to offer. It’s a scary feeling that I have tried to overcome little by little. It’s not about winning, but rather about the process and the improvements made.

The remainder of the day was mostly resting. I practiced only a little bit, as one should not practice too much the day before a competition! At the end of the night, Gabe and I went out to celebrate all of my hard work in the district of Miraflores (Side note: I was born in this district!)

“Larcomar” Mall in Lima's Miraflores district, right in front of the Pacific Ocean

Monday, May 22: Competition Day!

The competition was from 9:00 a.m. to noon, and everybody played their concertos. It was quite the Mozart morning. One of the competitors I got to know the most was a guy from Chile, and we became very close and bonded over our love for flute. Most of the other competitors were from Peru and showed a very high level of artistry. It was incredibly inspiring. I was happy with my performance and with the way everything turned out. This is the longest work I have ever performed at a competition (23 minutes).

The results were out fairly quickly after competition finished, and I was awarded 2nd Prize! It was such an honor for me, especially this being my first international competition. They awarded me with a Grenadilla wood piccolo headjoint, handmade by Adolfo Muñoz from Chile. How awesome is that?!

Daniel Gonzalez, Peru (1st prize) on the left. Maria Vizcarra, USA (2nd prize) on the right. Salvador Pradenas, Chile (3rd prize) in the middle.

Maria Vizcarra and Adolfo Muñoz (Flute Technician and Maker from Chile)

Tuesday, May 23: Masterclasses commence

This was such a great day! After all the emotions from Monday, it was a nice feeling to be done with the competition vibes and move on to other activities! One of the highlights of this day was attending Ali Ryerson's jazz flute masterclass. What a privilege it was to meet her! Her charismatic personality was a joy to be around. She shared her wisdom with all of us, and by the end of the class we were all having so much fun playing and improvising! At one point during the masterclass, she needed a rhythm section and Gabe offered to play piano, though his main instrument is bass trombone! What a great team!

Ali Ryerson teaching jazz flute basics

Wednesday, May 24: More masterclasses

One of the highlights of this day was Sergio Pallottelli’s flute masterclass! I enjoyed playing for him, but left wishing that we could have had more time. It was an honor to meet him and to play for him. In the masterclasses during the festival, all the participants brought their flutes in hopes to play for guest artists. It was always very hard for them to have to choose players from such a big pool of hardworking flutists of all ages. It was an inspiring class.

Sergio Pallottelli (Artist Teacher of Flute, Longy School of Music)

Also that day was WMU’s own Martha Councell-Vargas' masterclass. The way she taught students was very inspiring as well. She worked with students of all ages, ranging from kids under 10-years-old up to people in their 30s. She also speaks fluent Spanish. It’s amazing how much one can communicate through music. Music is a universal language, and one way or another we all manage to understand each other through it.

Martha Councell-Vargas (Assistant Professor of Flute, Western Michigan University) teaching Juan Carlos Rodriguez.

Thursday, May 25: Gratification through translation 

Again, the highlight of this day was another masterclass! This one  was lead by Natasha Loomis (USA). She worked mostly with the younger flutists, and I had the privilege of translating most of her masterclass! Man, how awesome! It was the most fun I've ever had translating, but my brain was fried by the end of it. Even though this was not my first time translating an entire flute masterclass, it was challenging having to go back and forth between languages, and having all the music terms be fresh and ready to go on my mind! How fun! She was an absolutely incredible teacher and the kids were all eager to play for her.


Friday, May 26: Farewell to the festival 

This was the last day of the festival. We mostly rehearsed the flute choir music with all the participants and had a big concert to celebrate the end of the 32nd year of this festival at “Museo de la Nación” (Peru’s National Museum). The concert started with the Japanese Flute Association flute choir (they were amazing, by the way!), and then they had Ali Ryerson be the featured flutist along with Cesar Vivanco conducting (Founder of Peru’s International Flute Festival). Then all of the guest artists performed and we closed the concert by having every single flute player that attended join and play some Peruvian music! What a beautiful way to end the festival!

Later that night, we had an “After Concierto” featuring Ali Ryerson Jazz Quartet and Cesar Vivanco and his “estrellas”(stars). It was a great night shared with new friends and great jazz and Latin music. By the end of the night, everyone was dancing and laughing together.


Ali Ryerson's Quartet at “No Way Jose” club in San Isidro.

Saturday, May 27: Until next time, Peru!

Gabe and I had to leave Peru this day, but I couldn’t possibly leave without at least stopping by and seeing my family! I love them so much and wish I could take them all with me back to the United States. Until next time, Peru!

Maria Vizcarra visits with her grandma in Peru.

Maria Vizcarra visits with her family in Peru.



This post is part of the College of Fine Art's Summer 2017 blog series, Going Places. Enjoy more summertime student blog posts by subscribing to the Fine Print or clicking the image below:


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Topics: Student Experience, The Student Experience, Globally Engaged, CFA Students in Summer, Going places - Summer 2017

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