CSU Northridge -- November 26, 2003

CSUN Professor Honored by Spanish Organization

Seven acclaimed Hispanic artists and academics from around the world pay tribute to Cal State Northridge professor emeritus Aurelio de la Vega in the latest issue of Encuentro, an international magazine that celebrates Cuban culture.

Encuentro de la Cultura Cubana, an international association based in Madrid, Spain and dedicated to Cuban culture, devoted much of the Spring/Summer 2003 issue of its publication to the life and contributions of de la Vega, a celebrated composer, essayist and lecturer.

"It's a big, big honor," said de la Vega, who taught music at Northridge for 34 years. "The people who have written about me in the magazine are very important people and what they have written has moved me deeply."

"This is not like having a friend write something nice about you," he said. "These are people who truly know what I have done for over 50 years and know what it stands for and what it means in the history of music. It is very, very touching. These artists have used their talents in honor of me."

Those contributing pieces about de la Vega to Encuentro include historian Rafael Rojas, a member of Mexico's Institute of Economic and Educational Investigations; poet and essayist Enrico Mario Santí, a professor of Latin American literature at the University of Kentucky; art historian and painter Carlos M. Luis; painter and graphic designer Angel Marrero; novelist and poet Nivaria Tejera; poet Laura Ymayo Tartakoff, a professor of jurisprudence at Case Western Reserve University; and painter and essayist Ramón Alejandro.

The essays examine de la Vega's contributions to music, the historical importance of his creative output and his extensive activities as a composer.

The Encuentro tribute also includes a 12-page interview of de la Vega by poet and essayist Néstor Diaz de Villegas, a columnist for the Miami Herald.

De la Vega was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1925. Trained in diplomacy, he served for a time as cultural attaché at the Cuban Consulate in Los Angeles. After studying with Ernest Touch in California, de la Vega held several significant music positions in his native Cuba, including dean of the School of Music at Universidad de Oriente and music advisor to the National Institute of Culture.

He toured the United States as a lecturer from 1952 to 1959 before settling in Los Angeles, where he became a music professor at San Fernando Valley State College, now California State University, Northridge. He retired from Northridge in 1993.

De la Vega's list of compositions (many published and commercially produced) includes symphonic pieces, chamber music, piano, solo instruments with tape, song cycles, cantatas, ballet music, guitar and electronic music. Major orchestras, ensembles, prominent soloists and singers throughout the world have performed his works.

De la Vega's vast symphonic work, Adiós, written for Zubin Mehta and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, recently received its 27th public performance.

A just-released recording of his Complete Piano Works by famed Cuban American pianist Martha Marchena has received rave reviews throughout the world.

Marchena will offer a short recital of some of de la Vega's pieces at a special presentation of the recording on Saturday, Feb. 21, at Cal State Northridge.

De la Vega also has been the recipient of numerous prizes, commissions, awards and distinctions (having twice received the Friedheim Award from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts) as well as honors and decorations from various governments for his contributions to North American and Latin American music.

Only three years ago, de la Vega's music manuscript, "The Magic Labyrinth," was included in a 733-page volume, Music History from Primary Sources, published by the Library of Congress. Two of his pencil-colored graphic scores represented the month of May in the Library's 2001 wall calendar titled "Classical Music."

Despite his retirement from Northridge a decade ago, de la Vega said he continues to compose, write and travel the world lecturing.

"I still have much to say," he said.

Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler, (818) 677-2130, carmen.chandler@csun.edu

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