DARIEN — Residents of Darien may know David Guzman from St. Thomas More Church where he’s performed as a tenor for over 10 years.
The New York City resident’s work is now expanding beyond the greater New York City area. Guzman recently released “Art Songs from Latin America,” his first self-produced solo album featuring music from Argentina, Peru, Mexico, Cuba and Colombia.
Guzman will be performing music from his album at St. Thomas More on Oct. 1.
Q: How did you get into music?
A: It’s a long story, but I started when I was a kid.
I’m from Colombia and we moved to Venezuela because (my father) was working with an oil company there. We lived there for six years and I received a cuatro — (a four-string Venezualan guitar) — as a Christmas present and in January, when I started school there, I took lessons and that was the beginning. I started singing folk music and playing the instrument called cuatro.
That was it. I was hooked with music.
I learned more songs and how to play guitar.
We moved back to Colombia and I went to a conservatory in my hometown and that was it. I finished high school and moved to the capital, Bogota, and went to college for music education. At the end of my degree, I taught music for four years and conducted children’s choirs and I was all the time taking voice lessons. I moved from folk music to classical music.
Then I met my voice teacher in Texas. I went to his voice lessons and he offered me at the end of that week the opportunity to apply for a scholarship at Texas Christian University. I came in 2004 to do my master’s there and in 2006 I graduated and moved to New York and I moved to opera. I’d always been a tenor, but I wanted to do more opera music. I moved to New York and started to audition to get gigs.
Q: How did you get involved with St. Thomas More?
A: Back then in 2006, when I moved to the city, Galen Tate, who is the music director, was looking for a tenor. I auditioned for him and he hired me as a tenor leader in church and a cantor for some Masses there and since then I’ve been working with him.
Q: How did you choose the pieces for your album?
A: I recently finished my doctoral in musical arts at SUNY. Part of my degree was a research project and I did it in Latin American art songs. I have a vast background in folk. I was playing Colombian and Latin American folk music for many years and my research was about art songs written for piano and voice that tend to be performed in a concert hall.
I found this wealth of music from Latin America and interesting stories. For example, there’s a composer from Mexico and she went to study in Paris, but she married a guy working with oil companies and they moved to New York. She was a big Mexican composer in the ‘50s and ‘40s. She also wrote these art songs, more classical in a way, but not known. So I found her songs and recorded three of them. It’s interesting, even though they wrote Latin American music, they were living in the U.S.
Q: What was it like recording this album with your wife (Natalia Katyukova, assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera, who accompanies you on the piano)?
A: We met at school in Texas and we’ve been working together. She’s my coach. She’s working now for the Metropolitan Opera and teaching now at (The) Juilliard (School). She’s a great pianist.
We’ve been working more than 10 years together. It’s not a big deal; it’s what we do. We work all the time finding a repertoire we can do together.
When I started working (on the album), she fell in love with the music as well, so we decided to record it.
Q: How does it feel to recreate the music of people with similar roots and stories to yours?
A: I recorded other artists who didn’t live in the United States. I recorded some Argentinian music.
But recording was interesting because it’s amazing how the migration comes from Latin America to America. They produce Latin American art songs and the music goes back there. (American) culture has been enriched by this music and artists.