Alberto Suarez, Principal Horn, Landon and Sarah Rowland Chair
Alberto Suarez was born to Cuban parents in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, and raised in South Florida. In addition to serving as principal horn of the Kansas City Symphony, where he holds the Landon and Sarah Rowland Chair, Suarez spends his summers performing with Summerfest in Kansas City and as a member of an all-star brass ensemble performing Civil War era music at the Strings Music Festival in Steamboat Springs, Colo. Prior to joining the Kansas City Symphony, Suarez was a member of the New World Symphony, the Sphinx Symphony, and he has toured internationally with the Verbier Festival Orchestra and the New York Symphonic Ensemble. Locally, he performs with the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra and has appeared as a soloist with the Overland Park Symphony. As an educator, Suarez has taught master classes at the University of Kansas, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Manhattan School of Music and the New World Symphony, among others.
Ten questions about me:
What is your earliest musical memory?
Back in seventh grade, I was able to have an elective class of my choosing. This was the first time I could choose a class and I always enjoyed helping out in the kitchen so I decided on home economics. Home economics included two parts, cooking for half the year and sewing for the second half. The first half was great, but once we got to sewing I wanted out. Since my brother was in band I spoke with the Band Director, Mr. Walters. He said I could join the beginning band but I only had two choices for instruments, the trombone and the horn. So after a quick moment I said the horn but not for the reason you might think. My brother played the trombone: so I chose the horn.
When did you know you wanted to be a professional musician?
I studied at a performing arts high school in Miami called New World School of the Arts. It is a public high school that focuses on the visual and performing arts. One day in my physics class, I heard some beautiful music coming from the front of the class. I asked my teacher, Mr. Sturgulewski or "Sturge" as well called him, about the music and he told me it was Mahler's Second Symphony. Later that day I went to the library and listened to Mahler's Second Symphony in its entirety. I was so taken by the spectrum of colors and emotions and was very excited about playing in an orchestra from that day forward.
What is your favorite thing about performing music?
Being on stage with fantastic colleagues and exploring our musical ideas each night in a unique and fresh way.
Who is your most inspiring composer?
Though it is quite difficult to choose one composer, I feel most connected to Gustav Mahler. Mahler composed in a style that demanded a lot of different colors and effects from the orchestra to portray all the emotions that he was feeling.
What is the best part about being a musician in the Kansas City Symphony?
Being surrounded by an amazing community that supports the orchestra and is very excited about our future as we move into the Kauffman Center.
What is your most memorable performance with the Kansas City Symphony?
Performing the Britten Serenade at Visitation Church. The sound in that venue was intimate and lush. It was a fantastic collaboration.
What's your "top pick" for downtown dining, or for a post-concert drink or dessert?
I really enjoy the atmosphere and the food at La Bodega. The tapas on the late night menu are awesome!
Tell us about your family and your hobbies.
I grew up in a traditional Cuban family. I am the youngest of three children raised in South Florida. I love playing basketball, sudoku, and taking on home improvement projects. I also love to make authentic Cuban dishes that I learned to make from my parents and grandmother. In March 2010, I got married in Miami to my wife, Meredith.
If you weren't a professional musician, what occupation would you choose?
I would have to say that it would be an electrical engineer. When I was in high school, I was interested in mathematics and physics and had helped my father on freelance home electrical work. When I got to college, I was a double major in electrical engineering and music performance. After three years of doing both, I decided to pursue music exclusively.
What is your favorite city that you've visited or lived in and why?
I really enjoy being in España. If I had to pick one city it would be Barcelona. The food, location, and weather are ideal for a relaxing vacation.