COC professor’s classical music lands awards

College of the Canyons Professor and composer Yalil Guerra at COC on Wednesday, October 10, 2018. Dan Watson/The Signal
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College of the Canyons music professor Yalil Guerra teaches a classical piano lab and tonal harmony to students two days a week. He also does composition work, for which he was recently nominated for a Latin Grammy award in September.

Guerra’s nomination count is now at seven — his 2018 nomination is in the same category as his last Latin Grammy award in 2012, the Best Classical Contemporary Composition category. This time, it is for his piece “String Quartet No. 3 ‘In Memoriam of Ludwig van Beethoven.”

“My first reaction was gratitude toward my music industry peers,” he said. “This is something that means a lot to me, that they appreciate my work’s quality.”

Guerra’s first Latin Grammy nomination was in the Best Classical Album category in 2010, for his album “Old Havana.”

“I am very thankful for all the blessings in my life,” the Havana-born composer said. “It doesn’t matter how many doors people close in your face, you have to be able to surpass those obstacles and keep moving forward. We have to remind ourselves that we are first of all, mortal people.

“Sometimes after arriving to or achieving some success, people get very indifferent and change their ways,” he said. “They change how they act toward other people I think the most important part is you need to serve as an inspiration to other people. I’m also very thankful to this country for all the opportunities opened to me in my career and life. I’m very glad to live here.”

Guerra has been in the United States since 2000. Since coming, he has also graduated with a Master’s degree in Film Scoring at Shepherd University in Los Angeles in 2015. He is presently pursuing a Ph.D at UCLA in Music Composition.

For the last two years, he has taught as an adjunct professor at COC and believes teaching is “a great opportunity to pass onto other people the knowledge that other generations professors have passed to you. It’s a great day to help out other artists that we enjoy in the next years.”

In his spare time, Guerra also plays in a band with his sister and parents, “The Yamila Cuban Band” in which he plays the piano and sings. The band’s repertoire is Cuban and Latin instrumental music that does private events locally.

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