Viviana Guzmán is not just an internationally renowned flutist, but an example of triumph over fate.
Today, after many years of surgery, Viviana walks and dances like any other woman, but it wasn’t always that way. While going through her pains she filled her life with music, eventually composing and playing her own. She became such a success at it that soon she was appearing as soloist with orchestras in Wisconsin, Vermont, Texas, Montana, California, Russia, and Chile; playing in such world-renown venues as New York City’s Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, and Avery Fisher Hall. Nowadays —in addition to countless TV appearances and the recording of at least eight albums— Viviana tours the world at the rate of 80 concerts a year throughout the world.
In anticipation to her Stockton performance with the Stockton Symphony in March, 2011, Bilingual Weekly spoke to her. This is what she said,
BW: You were born in Chile, your life takes you from Copenhagen to Bali and get your mail in Half Moon Bay, California. Regardless of your legal status, how do you describe yourself… a Chilean, an American, a Latina, a citizen of Music?
VG: I have lived in so many places, Budapest, Buenos Aires, Tahiti… I guess I am a citizen of the World.
BW: As a child you dreamed of being a dancer. You went to Medical School and exchanged the stethoscope for a flute. Most people who want to become musicians dream of playing the guitar, the piano or the violin. Why a flute?
VG: My mother played the piano and I listened to Bach since I can remember, but I was born with two bad hips, and to be able to walk, a flute was the lighter instrument I could carry!
BW: It seems you have experienced what Frida Khalo went through… except you did not paint your suffering…
VG: I know what she went through… until two years ago I went from one operation to another, ever since I was born. No. I did not paint, I played the flute.
BW: You were born in Concepción, Chile…
VG: Yes. They tried to help me there but couldn’t, so they took me to Santiago (Chile’s Capital) and my parents were told that they couldn’t help me there either. That’s why I ended up in the United States for all these years.
BW: It seems you are always on the go. Do you live on a suitcase or have a nest you go back after every tour? What or where do you call home?
VG: I don’t pack. I am always ready to go… and I do go. I’ve been to 118 countries so far. But home is where love is. Love is in Half Moon Bay with my husband.
BW: According to industry critics, you are quite a music phenomenon, yet most of your audience is above the retirement age and you, obviously, are not. Once this audience is gone, is there a new crop in the making?
VG: I play music for all ages and tastes; I play tango, Brazilian rhythms. Plus, I experiment with music and other things. My interests are as diverse due to what I have gone through…
BW: What you think of today’s popular music? Did you ever follow any heartthrob or a rock group?
VG: I like Shakira —I just went to a concert of hers. I like world music. Arab music, world flutes, belly dancing…
BW: As you play tango, you replaced the traditional bandoneón with a flute… have die-hard tango purists ever got to you?
VG: Why would they? Originally, tango was played with a flute and a guitar, the bandoneón and the orchestra came after.
BW: In addition to being a flutist, composer and a dancer, you write poetry. It’s a hobby? Part of your performance? What’s your poetry about?
VG: Yes. I’ve written a poetry book. Sometimes during a recital I read some of my poems. I write about love… tragic love.
And on Thursday, March 10, and Saturday, March 12, 2011—spite of what Forbes Magazine says— Viviana will add Stockton to her list. On those two evenings, Viviana’s flute will fill San Joaquin Delta College’s Atherton Auditorium as part of the Stockton Symphony’s Symphonic Spice show. Tickets vary from $22 to $55. For more information, call (209) 951-0196 or visit http://www.stocktonsymphony.org