I am originally from Los Angeles, (Manhattan Beach, actually). My parents are from vastly diverse cultures. My mother was born and raised in India, and my father is Spanish American, with roots in the New Mexican first Spanish settler colonies. They met and married in the most unexpected of places: Africa! They both have a fierce love for music, especially opera. I have memories of listening to Don Giovanni at the age of 3, while drawing pictures of Don Giovanni, Donna Elvira and all of the other characters.
In 1986 I graduated from CalArts, (California Institute of the Arts), where I had wonderful opportunities to study with Rand Steiger, Morton Subotnick and the late, legendary film composer, Leonard Rosenman. My path to becoming a composer, however, was rather circuitous because my first musical experiences were as a classically trained pianist. I longed to be a composer, though, so shortly after being admitted to CalArts as a piano major, I audited first year theory courses for composition majors and quietly put my portfolio together to apply to the composition program the next year. To my surprise and joy, I was accepted as a second year composition major! Amazingly, I was the only female in my graduating class, which confirmed what I already feared: Music composition has been dominated by men. This confirmation changed my course, dramatically, as an artist.
After college, I spent many years in LA as the Director of Music at Hal Roach Studios, as well as composing music for many Collage Dance Theater productions, and scoring independent films. I also co-founded an “all-girl band”, Mozaic, playing the Hollywood circuit, (Roxy, Whiskey A Go-Go, Troubadour, etc.) and beyond. Shortly before leaving LA, I co-owned a professional recording studio in the heart of Hollywood, Kitchen Sync Studios, recording diverse and now, iconic artists such as Eazy-E, Ice T, Concrete Blonde and several acts on Interscope, Death Row and American Recordings. Even with the thriving recording studio and many opportunities to record my own music, I had other aspirations, which brought me to San Francisco.
My deep love of opera drew me to my beloved “City by the Bay”, where my first opera, Wuornos, was produced and then premiered at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The subject of this opera is Aileen Wuornos, known as “America’s First Female Serial Killer." This was a historic “first” for many reasons. The opera featured a large cast and full orchestra.
My second opera, Juana, has been a longer, more complicated and exhilarating journey. The Spanish language opera is based on the incredibly rich, historical novel, “Sor Juana’s Second Dream”, by the award-winning writer, poet and scholar, Alicia Gaspar de Alba. Alicia and I co-wrote the libretto about 17th century Mexican nun, poet and feminist icon, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. I have recently finished the piano/vocal score and am currently in the process of orchestrating the opera for chamber orchestra, featuring ocarina, recorder, vihuela, classical guitar, harpsichord, indigenous Mexican percussion, harp and strings. The opera will premiere at UCLA to commemorate their Centennial in November 2019. (Juana originally had a 2007 workshop production of excerpts in San Francisco from a previous draft. After this, the project was put on hold until 2016, when Alicia and I were presented with the opportunity to complete the opera and have its premiere at UCLA.)
My next big project is an opera called touch, based on the life and love affair of Helen Keller. An excerpt from the opera was produced and performed by West Edge Opera in 2016.
In 2015, I was commissioned by Earplay to write a chamber work, Castillo Interior: Interior Castle, for Male Soprano, Bass Clarinet and Piano, to commemorate their 30th anniversary. Based on the writings of Santa Teresa of Avila, this piece was about an astral traveler touring notorious cities in the US in order to confront its inner demons.
In 2006 I was appointed the US Director of ComuArte International, an international arts organization for women. Through this wonderful experience, and other channels, I have had opportunities to hear my music in Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Chile, Canada, and several cities in the US. I am also currently on the faculty of Academy of Art University, teaching composition and orchestration in the Music for Visual Media Department.
I am very grateful to the following institutions, organizations and corporations for their generous awards and commissions: San Francisco Arts Commission, la Festival Contemporania de Habana (Contemporary Music Festival of Havana, Cuba), California Arts Council, Creative Work Fund, the Zellerbach Foundation, the Getty Foundation, Meet the Composer, Horizons Foundation, Astraea, QCC, UC Berkeley, Charles Schwab, Wells Fargo, OUT Magazine, the Advocate, ComuArte International, Resonancia (Chile), Earplay, West Edge Opera, UCLA, Theater Bay Area, the Mexico City Philharmonic, Danse Lumiere, Orquesta del Instituto Politécnico, Orquesta Marga-Marga.
Copyright © 2018 Carla Lucero - All Rights Reserved.