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Juan 'Tony' Guzman '90

Associate professor of music and education

Multiple identities: Director of Jazz Orchestra and Jazz Band, and associate professor of music education.

First paid gig: Playing euphonium in the municipal band in his hometown, La Vega, Dominican Republic, at age 10.

Notable composition: "Paz," performed by the United Nations Singers in 2005.

To Tony (as he prefers to be called), music isn't as much a profession as a way of life. "In my culture, for example, it's a shame if you can't dance. We learn to move with the music first, held in the arms of our parents, then we learn more refined things, like walking," he says with a laugh.

As a kid, Tony hung out on the street corners in his neighborhood, learning Latin percussion on the tambora (a drum) and gira (rasp). Then he started playing euphonium and trombone professionally in municipal ensembles, dance bands, and recording bands, eventually landing in the Dominican Republic's national symphony orchestra.

A few years after finishing a degree in electromechanical engineering (he was admitted to a five-year program at Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra in Santiago at age 16), Tony heard Luther's Nordic Choir perform while on tour in the Dominican Republic.

Touched and inspired, Tony decided it was time to make music his living and completed a bachelor's degree in music education at Luther, then a master's and doctorate from Florida State. He returned to Luther in 1995 and now serves the departments of music and education.

Along the way, Tony has continued to connect people through music. His graduate work contributed to a nationwide music curriculum in his home country, and his blossoming repertoire as a composer and arranger makes elements of Latin American heritage more accessible to ensembles around the world.

On Luther's campus, Tony is known for his open-door policy--even in the wee hours of the morning--and for inviting students to get at what he calls the "meaning of music."

"I'm passionate about jazz--I think it has the most utmost energy, combining high intellectual aspects with creativity and advanced skills," Tony says. "But I don't regard any style as lesser; with practice and conviction, all music can be profound."

Tony travels widely as a guest conductor, consultant, adjudicator, and clinician, working with groups as diverse as the Iowa Bandmasters Association Honor Band and the Sao Paulo Chamber Choir. His compositions and arrangements have been published by Oxford University Press and Boosey & Hawkes.