Interview with World Renowned Flutist Viviana Guzman

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I had a chance to chat with Viviana Guzman recently about her music and how she got started with her career as a flutist. Her first answer really astonished me, so a dialogue continued. Below, a more recent photo of her playing in Easter Island is a far cry from how and where she played music as a child.

Viviana grew up in a body cast so she couldn’t run and play like most kids and as a result, she started music lessons when they flipped her over in the hospital gurney where she lived in Chile. It was here and how she learned how to play piano as a child.

Chilean-born, she has been described by the New York Times as “an imaginative artist,” who now performs over 80 concerts a year throughout the world and has performed in 120 countries.  By age 15, she had played as a soloist with orchestra, studied with Jean-Pierre Rampal and was featured on NBC’s nationally televised John Denver music special.

She has since appeared as soloist with orchestras in Wisconsin, Vermont, Houston, Khabarovsk Chamber Orchestra (Russia), Filharmoncia de Santiago (Chile), Great Falls Symphony (Montana), Diablo Symphony (California), Irving Symphony (Texas), Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra, San Jose Chamber Orchestra, Stockton Symphony and in New York City’s Alice Tully Hall Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall.

When I asked her who her earliest inspiration was for her early on in her life, she speaks of her mother, who was a concert pianist in Chile where she grew up. Like so many women of her generation, she gave up her career to take care of her, so she now plays all of her concerts with her mother in mind.  

Viviana was trained in classical music having attended Juilliard and the opportunity to play at Carnegie Hall.  As she started traveling, she was suddenly exposed to different kinds of world music and that influenced her music in a big way. The result was a shift to playing various flutes from different cultures. She says, “As I  became more of a musician of the world, my music started reflecting this.  Now I play classical, celtic, tango, samba, salsa…. you name it, I can play it!”

I asked her what her favorite piece to play was and most importantly, why? I had to chuckle at her answer. She says that her favorite piece to play depends on what mood she’s in and that changes daily.  In January this year, she performed on Easter Island, so her favorite piece was a tune from Easter Island.  In February, she premiered a piece written by a Chilean composer, Sergio Berchenko at El Teatro Del Lago for Semanas Musicales in Chile.  And, In March she will be performing in Taiwan and Philippines, so she predicts she will find music from both of those places that will become her favorite music to play this Spring.

With my own art and writing, I get my biggest source of inspiration from nature so was thrilled to hear that Viviana’s answer was the same. I’m not surprised. Nature constantly inspires and when you’re playing flutes from various cultures around the world, nature can have an even bigger impact. She says that she loves performing at the Sacred Sites of the World, such as the Pyramids in Egypt, in Easter Island, Santiago de Compostela and Acropolis in Greece.

Below: Philippines and Peru.

She has also played in of all places, Antarctica. If you’ve ever wondered why someone would go to Antarctica for any reason, nevermind to play a flute, check out some of the Antarctica photography from that icy but astonishing beautiful place in our Antarctica travel section. I can guarantee that you will soon see the inspiration and be blown away by its beauty.

I interviewed Viviana because I fell in love with her music and because of her global approach to music, which couldn’t be more perfect for We Blog the World. For example, last year alone, she performed in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Angels Camp, CA, Ohio, Berkeley, Tahiti, Canada, New Orleans, Hawaii, American Samoa, Mexico, Thailand, Panama, Peru and as a soloist with the Philippines Philharmonic Orchestra. Whoahh! Dizzy yet?

In 2014, she has concerts planned in Easter Island, Tahiti, Argentina, Taiwan, Philippines, California, Chicago, U.K., San Jose, Missouri, and Asia and that’s not even an exhaustive list.

Viviana has recorded 8 different albums with different labels including Polygram, National Geographic, and Sugo Records.  Bonnie Grice of KUSC-LA says of her classical CD, Telemann Flute Fantasies, “It is a wonderful album, it has gotten a lot of great response…it’s magic.  She is a bright young flutist, a delightful musician.”  Her albums include “Planet Flute” (1997), “Telemann Fantasies” (2002), “Mostly Tango” (2002), “Argentine Music” (2009), “Meditations for Flute” (2007), “Serenity” National Geographic (2002), “Danza de Amor” (2000) which has sold over 40,000 units.  As an author/poet, she has been published by Simon and Schuster and her book of poetry entitled, “Love Soliloquies” was published by Syren Press.

She has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Lincoln Center Scholarship, Institute of Hispanic Culture Award, Shepherd Award, Emmanuel Olshan Award, Hirsch Award, Phillips Foundation Award, and the Ruth Burr Award.  Ms. Guzmán attended Rice University on fellowship first with an emphasis on medicine;  subsequently, she chose music as her career path and attended the Juilliard School on scholarship.  She has participated in the Aspen, Banff, Marlboro and Caramoor Music Festivals and has studied with Albert Tipton and Julius Baker and in Masterclass with James Galway and Jean-Pierre Rampal. She has presented workshops and masterclasses at the San Francisco Conservatory, Juilliard School, University of Mississippi, Wright State University, Rick’s College, Stanford University, Humbolt State University, among others. Viviana has many fans worldwide including Kate Winslet (Titanic) who said, “I LOVE your music, it’s truly beautiful!” and Isabel Allende (House of Spirits) declared, “Your music is celestial!”

We love inspiring and passionate women doing fabulous things around the world – be sure to check out her work to be inspired and awed. The links to the above performances (Egypt, Easter Island, Santiago, Greece and Antarctica) will give you a taste.

 Photos provided by Viviana directly.


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