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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue: April 28, 2003
Volume 38, Number 18

Ethnomusicologist to lead Arts of Americas
Loza aims to ‘erase borders,’ continue hemispheric work

By Laurie Mellas Ramirez

Steve LozaSteve Loza, Ph.D., hired in January to lead the Arts of Americas Institute (AAI) in the UNM College of Fine Arts, believes that performance and research make beautiful music.

“I don’t like to separate the academic from the artistic,” Loza said. “Teaching and research are important, but if you don’t engage the public, then you can’t get the work out into the community.”

On faculty at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), for more than 17 years, Loza is taking a leave of absence for two years to direct the AAI. He is also a professor in the Department of Music at UNM, specializing in Latin American and U.S. Latino musical culture, West Africa and African American music, jazz studies, multiculturalism and globalization.

At UCLA, he has directed the Mexican Arts Series since 1985, and participated in numerous performing and lecture activities. He is also a member of the Grammy Awards National Screening Committee.

Loza earned a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology in 1985, and master’s in Latin American studies in 1979, both from UCLA. He has a bachelor’s in music from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

Author of numerous books, anthologies and articles, he has produced a record and led several recordings.

He recently edited a compilation of reports in ethnomusicology “Musical Cultures of Latin America: Global Effects, Past and Present.” Performance media expertise includes trumpet, voice, piano, composition, arranging and orchestration.

Loza has conducted extensive research on Latin American music, especially the musical culture of Mexico, Cuba, and the U.S. In 1996-97 he taught at Kanda University of International Studies in Japan, and, in 1989, he taught at the University of Chile’s School of Music.

Loza was part of a Ford Foundation program at UCLA implementing research in curriculum on multicultural arts and society in Los Angeles and edited the related anthology, “Selected Reports in Ethnomusicology: Musical Aesthetics and Multiculturalism in Los Angeles.”

An academician and performer who helped organize more than 80 events during the past 15 years, Loza said he plans to carry the AAI tune even further.

“There is no such thing as just the Americas anymore,” said Loza, who speaks three languages and comprehends two more. “We have to continue to develop work that is going on in the hemisphere – we have to erase the borders – first the ones down here and then those around the world.”

Loza said artistic expression furthers a grassroots exchange of culture worldwide.

“If there is to be true globalization, it’s going to happen through the arts, not economics or politicization,” he said.

One of Loza’s first projects will be developing a joint UNM/UCLA international, interdisciplinary research conference held next spring on both campuses. The working title for the project is “Towards a Theory for Religion as Art: Guadalupe, Buddha, Orishas and Sufi.”

“We will look at how art is used as a very basic element of religion,” Loza said.

Arturo Marquez, Mexico’s renown contemporary composer of symphonic music, will be commissioned to write a symphonic tone poem based on the Guadalupe cult and religious belief. The UCLA and UNM symphony orchestras will premiere the piece during the conference. Related multimedia artwork will also be created and unveiled as part of the project.

Other plans for AAI include collaborations with the Hispanic Cultural Center and actor and art collector Cheech Marin.

In 1991, the UNM College of Fine Arts created the AAI to celebrate diverse cultures and traditions of the Western Hemisphere, explore artistic similarities and differences, enhance the artistic process by crossing cultural and national boundaries and create long-term relationships that promote future interaction.

AAI has enjoyed support on and off campus. UNM’s Center for Regional Studies has been particularly instrumental in bringing Loza to New Mexico.