STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Laura Maria Diaz Coronado

By | October 14, 2021

This week we caught up with Laura Maria Diaz Coronado, a Junior double majoring in Music Performance (concentration in Music History) and Computer Information Systems! Laura and her mentors, Dr. O’Brien and Yuriy Bekker, received a SURF 2021 Grant to study Joaquín Orellana’s post-institutional career and how Guatemala’s troubled history during the 1960s-1980s interfered with both Orellana’s musical production and with audiences’ and scholars’.

“Joaquín Orellana (1933 – ) is an experimental Guatemalan composer, instrument creator, and violinist. His early work, while stylistically traditional, won several important international awards. His career was transformed, however, by a residence at the Latin American Center for Advanced Musical Studies at the Instituto Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where some of Latin America’s most elite and imaginative composers shared their work with leading composers from the U.S. and Europe. The graduates of the Di Tella Institute were characterized by both experimentalist techniques, and by their political convictions that their music should reflect and engage with the social realities of their own countries, rather than merely reflect European conventions and interests. Orellana was profoundly shaped by this experience, and spent the rest of his career embracing experimentalist techniques inspired by de-colonial ideologies and by Guatemala’s cultural history and conflicted social context. While many of Orellana’s fellow di Tella alumni have been the subject of musicological analysis, Orellana’s post-Institute career, while breathtakingly inventive, remains little studied. This project seeks to address this lacuna, which is owed largely to Guatemala’s troubled history during this period (1960s-1980s), which interfered with both Orellana’s musical production and with audiences’ and scholars’” Laura told us.

Laura hopes that the reader understands “the importance of decolonization in music, I want people to know the story on how western music got to this side of the world and the consequences. I also want people to realize how important are the composers of our era and get them interested in their work. ”

Her favorite memory from the project was “the interview with Joaquin Orellana, who is an amazing character and interesting composer, so I had a bunch of questions for him. I also liked the different analysis of Orellana’s work that I did with the composer assistants. I am amazed of how he came up with different musical notations for his own instruments and the combination with western notation to get something new.”

Laura told us “I gained knowledge and experience about Ethnomusicology thanks to my mentor, Dr. O’Brien, and I also got to work in Sibelius which is an important software for musicians to digitize music manuscripts. ”


Attached are photos from Laura’s project. Thank you to Laura for sharing your SURF 2021 experience!

Laura Maria Diaz Coronado in front of sheet music on her laptop

Joaquín Orellana and Laura Maria Diaz Coronado

Dr. Michael O’Brien, Laura Maria Diaz Coronado, and Julio César Santos Campos