Performer, composer and teacher celebrates and pushes on

Ricardo Iznaola had big dreams as a young boy growing up in Cuba and Venezuela. It turns out they have all come true. But instead of sitting back and enjoying the accomplishments, he is pushing on to bigger things.

Iznaola, chair of the guitar and harp department at the Lamont School of Music and director of the school’s Conservatory Program, is celebrating four major anniversaries in 2009: 40 years as a concert artist, 25 years at DU, 35 years of marriage and his 60th birthday.

To celebrate, he is putting on four fundraising concerts. Each program has some personal significance to him.

On March 6, Iznaola’s performance of Bach’s “Four Lute Suites” will highlight his talent as a guitarist. The set of four suites is rarely performed in the same concert.

“I believe that if you’re going to decide to grow old, then you have to challenge yourself,” he says. “Otherwise, you will have an early retreat.”

Iznaola will showcase his talent as a composer May 4 — the final concert of the series — when other faculty members will play his chamber music. Iznaola says the university setting has allowed him to pursue his interests in guitar performance, composition and teaching, so it is only fitting that the concerts benefit the school.

“It was a dream of mine to be part of a university setting in the States,” says Iznaola, whose family fled Cuba for Venezuela when he was young. “I have been able to indulge so many curiosities.”

He says he is humbled by the awards he’s received as a creative artist and scholar — the Distinguished Lamont Faculty Artist in 1990, the University Lecturer in 1999, the John Evans Distinguished Professor in Music in 2004, and a student scholarship fund that bears his name.

Iznaola says he is thrilled to see the success of his students. He believes of all the college guitar programs in the region, about 90 percent are headed by DU graduates.

“My dreams have been fulfilled and then some,” he says.

The concerts cost $30 for adults and $25 for seniors, students and DU employees with ID. A list of performance dates and package deals can be found through Ticketmaster or by calling the Lamont concert line at 303-871-6412.

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