At 9-years-old, Carlos Quiroz and his family left everything behind in Mexico and fled to San Antonio for fear of their safety.
Starting over in a new place with nothing of his own, Quiroz wanted to feel ownership over something. Music gave him that feeling.
Quiroz said leaving everything behind was a main reason he pursue music. For him, music will always be with him in life. It helped change his life.
In fifth grade, when he had to choose a middle school elective, Quiroz chose to play the viola. Now, he is a music education senior and member of UTA Symphony Orchestra and the Phi Mu Alpha music fraternity.
Over the years, Quiroz’s passion for music has only grown. Not only did it bring him passion, but also a sense of belonging and friendship, Quiroz said.
At times, Quiroz said he often felt discouraged about playing, but through others guiding and teaching him, he moved forward.
“I had the fortune to have good teachers motivating and never giving up on me,” Quiroz said.
Certain mentors helped inspire and shape him as a musician to pursue a music education degree in college, Quiroz said.
Quiroz said a key person who helped him is Cathy Forbes, his private lessons instructor of four years. Forbes was the reason he chose UTA, he said.
Another is symphony orchestra director Cliff Evans, Quiroz said. Evans’ conducting helped inspire Quiroz to want to become a conductor later in life, he said. Quiroz now takes conducting lessons from Evans.
A main role model who recently reinvigorated his passion for music was instructor Jennifer Lemin, he said. Quiroz met Lemin at a summer strings camp as a counselor. She battled with breast cancer, but her illness did not stop her from pursuing a master’s degree in conducting.
Quiroz said Lemin recently died from breast cancer.
“She never gave up on the important things, that being music education,” he said. “She had a drive not to give up on the kids.”
Her dedication to music education gave him perspective, Quiroz said. Her life lesson was to never give up and to keep learning and teaching.
Quiroz said he realized music education doesn’t stop when college ends and that some of the best teachers are the best learners.
“I don’t want to stop learning,” Quiroz said.
What he loves most about music is the its purpose: to change people’s lives, Quiroz said. That is why he wants to teach music to youths.
“It changed my life, and I have to give that back to others,” Quiroz said.
Quiroz said he believes music is a gift to share and hopes to share his gift and inspire others, as well.
“With music, you have a responsibility to share your talent,” Quiroz said.
For him, music can bring many things to people’s lives, including friendship and different opportunities in life. It brings people together, he said.
Quiroz’s passion for music and sharing it with others is seen by those close to him.
Music performance senior Emily Guerrero said she’s been friends with Quiroz since their freshman year in college. She said they easily became friends and would often practice together and help keep each other on track academically.
Guerrero said she admired Quiroz’s work ethic and passion for music. She said he goes above and beyond to practice by studying the composer and the music to better understand what he’s about to play.
“You can hear and see his passion – it’s so visible,” Guerrero said. “You know he enjoys the piece.”
Evans said Quiroz plays with emotion. Not only that, but Evans said Quiroz is always inquisitive and prepared. His desire to learn shows in how he accomplishes everyday tasks, he said.
“He has this enormous enthusiasm,” Evans said. “He’s visibly excited about the music he’s learning and being a part of an ensembles.”
Evans said Quiroz actively participates in conductor workshops offered to students. He said his activeness is rare for undergraduate students.
After graduation, he hopes to become a high school orchestra director, possibly back in San Antonio, Quiroz said. After a few years teaching, Quiroz said he aims to obtain a master’s degree in conducting, so he can conduct a professional orchestra later on in life.