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Meet Mercedes Juan Musotto

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mercedes Juan Musotto.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I first started to learn how to play the piano when I was seven. I really enjoyed classical music so I would go to the library and listen to large vinyl records; imagine a very small town in Mendoza, Argentina in the 80s. From there, I was intrigued by conducting and heard about a young conductors competition. It was a simple competition for teenagers and at 16, I got to conduct a small performance. That’s when I fell in love and that’s when I got hooked.

At the time, it was not very popular for women to be conductors. I got many “no’s” and I knew it would be a tough career choice but I didn’t care and did it anyway because it’s simply what I wanted to do.

I moved to a Buenos Aires to study orchestra conducting, it was a bigger city and there would be more opportunities there. I did my master’s in opera conducting in Teatro Colón and that’s what led to my first big break. I was hired in the Teatro Argentino Opera Company to work as a pianist/assistant conductor. There I learned to become a repetiteur, mastering everything one needs to know about an opera from conducting ensembles to cueing lights, stage manager work, etc. This primed me so that when I moved to California, I was hired by Santa Monica College and California State University Northridge.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It was not a smooth road, imagine a small town with antiquated values as a young female choosing to go into a male-dominated and somewhat obscure career. I had people telling me I would never make it and that it wouldn’t turn into a financially viable profession.

You can even say that many of these challenges are still present to this date. It may be being a Latina in a non-Latin culture or by being a female or a combination of the two.

I’m lucky that I have strong female friends in my life that impress me with how they push forward through their challenges that it inspires me and motivates me to do the same.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
In these last ten years that I have been working in colleges and worked with 100s of singers every semester and have taught diverse communities with people from differing cultures. It has been a passion of mine to engage new audiences of different backgrounds into making them love opera by having them participate in it. By giving people from these diverse backgrounds, ages, cultures and levels of ability equal opportunities to perform, I have found that these connections enrich everyone as a whole.

Being a foreigner myself, a female and with an accent no less demonstrates to everyone that if I can do it, so can they. I represent what you can accomplish despite cultural differences and I am very proud of this. I am particularly proud of seeing young women look to me as inspiration to take the harder road and push forward to achieve their own dreams.

Let’s talk about our city – what do you love? What do you not love?
Like Most: Access to Great schools, great students, great talent, great weather 😉

Least: With any large city, you have red tape and that slows down progress which slows down learning ability and growth. I always want to do so much more than time or funding allows.

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