Viviana Guzman Artist Interview

Described by the New York Times as “an imaginative artist,” Chilean-born flutist, Viviana Guzmán has been featured on programs for CNN, PBS, NPR and NBC, seen on the cover of Latina Style Magazine, and in COSMOPOLITAN en Español. Viviana has performed in 131 countries and has has released 13 albums and her latest CD “Traveling Sonata” received a GRAMMY Nomination.  A TEDxBerkeley Speaker, Viviana presented just prior to Steve Wozniac, Co-Founder of Apple, Inc.  Her music videos have been aired on UNIVISION in 30 countries and her YouTube Channel boasts over 2.5 Million views.  A graduate of the Juilliard School, she has performed in Carnegie Hall five times and has played as soloist with orchestras in Russia, Chile, Vermont, New York, Wisconsin, California, Texas, Montana, Vietnam, Philippines, Argentina, among others. Viviana is the Founder of the San Francisco Flute Society, Flutes by the Sea, and Co-Founder of The Flute View Magazine.  Viviana Guzman teaches Flute at University of California Santa Cruz.

Can you give us 5 career highlights?

2014 GRAMMY Nomination for my Traveling Sonata album.

2018 Global Music Awards Gold Medalist

Played 5 times in Carnegie Hall

Presented a TEDxTalk speaking just prior to Steve Wozniak, Co-Founder of Apple, Inc.

I have played in 131 countries… and counting.

How about pivotal moments that were essential to creating the artist that you've become?

Winning my first music contest at 7 years old playing the accordion.

Winning my second music contest at 13 years old playing the flute, which gave me a full Fellowship to the Aspen Music Festival, as I subsequently continued winning the same prize for 10 additional years.

Having my video “Whale Bumps Paddle Boarder”, go viral in 2016, was exciting as I ended up doing interviews for Good Morning America ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CNN, Huffington Post, The New York Post, The LA Times, The Irish Times, Daily Mail UK, Japan TV, Australian TV, German TV, Chile TV.  The ride was quite fun.  It would be lovely to repeat all that attention!  It gave me a small taste of what it might be like to have a global hit song, which was quite lovely.  It was a nice privilege.

Do you teach?  masterclasses?  What do you like best about teaching?

I teach at the University of California Santa Cruz which has a most beautiful campus, in the redwoods, overlooking the ocean.  I love watching the progress in my students.  Watching them take off and soar is like no other.  I have taught masterclasses in 65 universities around the world including National Singapore University, Jakarta Conservatory, La Mayor University in Santiago, Chile, The Juilliard School, San Francisco Conservatory, Tashkent Conservatory of Music in Uzbekistan, etc.

What do you like best about performing?

It is said that Leo’s are known to need the spotlight.  As a Leo, I thrive on center stage.  When I used to play in the Houston Grand Opera, I hated being stuck in the pit.  Even playing in an orchestra was not enough for me.  I always wanted to be front and center.  I blame it on being born a Leo!

CD releases?

I have 15  CD’s in the Classical, Tango, World, Electronica genres.  My Classical "Traveling Sonata" CD received a GRAMMY Nomination for Best Classical Producer.  My World Music CD, "Song of the Whale" was a 2018 Global Music Award Gold Winner.  Listen on AmazoniTunes or Spotify


What does your schedule look like for the next 6 months?  

Oh, I love that I go to at least 3 countries a month.  I love my busy schedule.  I juggle my tours with teaching at University of California Santa Cruz and conducting my 30 piece flute choir of the Peninsula Youth Symphony.  It keeps me thriving and on my toes.  I just performed as a soloist with the orchestras in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Zacatecas, Mexico and as I am writing this, I am on a tour of Bridgetown, Barbados, Manaus, Brazil (where I previously performed in the historic Opera House, see video HERE).  Next month I have Peru, Chile, followed by Argentina, Uruguay, Canada, and I have Flutes by the Sea  Masterclass June 24-28, 2020 that I organize every year.

What are your goals personally?  

To spend quality time with my husband and family.  I love going on silent retreats in nature.  

What are your goals professionally?

To continue as I do.  I adore my life, just as it is!!  I completed one of my professional goals last year when I booked my Silk Road Tour.  It had been a dream of mine for ages.  Perhaps my new goal would be to return to the Silk Road and visit more of the neighboring countries.  They treated me so well, put me on TV, they gave me standing ovations everywhere….. I would love to repeat the experience and add MORE!

What inspires you the most in life?

Nature inspires and fills me like nothing else.  I detest cities.   I love most of all to fall asleep listening to nature (no people and no motor sounds) just the crickets, frogs, the ocean, or a river.  My heart is breaking with all that humanity is doing, the killing off nature, to make more houses and developments, driven by corporate greed. 

We have doubled ourselves since 1970.  We are 100% more in 50 years than have every been on the planet, and the number is growing exponentially with every passing moment.  I don’t think the planet can sustain all of us.  She is rebelling and crying.  We must listen to her.  We need to respect our home, our planet, our trees.

What else inspires me? Animals.   I have two black cats at home that I adore.  I love ALL animals and with a unique penchant towards animals that live in the ocean.  Unfortunately, we are killing off our animal’s environments to make room for all the people.  There are so many beautiful animals going extinct every year.  There is no turning back!  This is so tragic!  We need to respect our co-inhabiters of the earth.  There is so much to be learned from them.  This has inspired me to make every future album of mine to be dedicated to raising awareness and to help save our endangered species.

What has been your greatest challenge?

Overcoming my very difficult physical challenges.  I was born diagnosed congenital bi-lateral hip dislocation, I was told I would never being able to walk.  I have undergone 11 major surgeries and two total hip replacements.  It has been one heck of a physical journey!  Check out my TEDxTalk here:

Currently, my greatest challenge is finding a peaceful & inspiring place to live. I am craving SILENCE.   And this is a very difficult thing to find in today’s busy world as I also need to be fairly close to an airport.  I thrive most of all when I am in nature and listening to Mother Earth’s innate sounds.  I am allergic to cities and above all, the sounds of any motor:  loud motorcycles and planes in particular.  For me, cities are cancerous growths.  I have lived in the fishing village of Half Moon Bay for 25 years, but unfortunately for me, it has become Silicon Valley Riviera, and so now I am on a quest for another place to land.  I am so thankful that I already performed all 50 states, in most of the major cities in the US and Europe.  I prefer, now to perform in exotic and less populated countries. 

Who were your music mentors?  and what did you learn from them?

I studied first with Albert Tipton, Principal Flute of St. Louis Symphony and Principal of Detroit Symphony, and then Julius Baker, Principal Flute of New York Philharmonic.  I feel that Tipton formed me and gave me all the necessary tools to becoming an artist.  I inherited my love of difference tone tuning from him.  He had perfect pitch, and demanded all his students begin every lesson with a tuning drone.  He was incredibly musical and sensitive.  A sound that could produce many colors was very important to him.  I learned to play loud and fast from Baker, as this was most important to him!  Ha!

Can you give us 5 quirky, secret, fun, (don't think too much about this) hobbies or passions?  

I am a former belly dancer.  I love swimming in my ocean every day.  I sleep every night in my Mongolian yurt that I ordered online.  I am vegan out of respect for all animals.  I love cats and all aquatic animals.  If I could live in the ocean, I would, as  I was born on the ocean, I live on the ocean and I work on the ocean.

What 3 things would you offer as advice for a young flutist?

Believe in yourself!  This is KEY!!!!  But above all, to be a musician, one must PRACTICE!!!!! Discipline is critical.

In addition, learn to do the following things that they still don’t teach in Music School:

Learn how to write a press release.

Learn the basics of web design and graphic design.

Learn the basics of videography and photography.

Learn how to send a cold email to a concert presenter or record label.

Start now with networking, treating everyone with respect and kindness.

Choose your friends and associates wisely.

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