For students of Yalil Guerra, whether at College of the Canyons or the University of California, Los Angeles, it’s both strange and inspiring for them to look at their professor and think, “That’s a Grammy nominee.”
But Yalil’s students, that’s exactly what they’ll get to do again this year, as it was recently announced that his album, “Cuba: The Legacy,” was nominated for a Latin Grammy in the category Best Classical Album.
This marks the eighth nomination for Guerra by the Latin Grammys, and he won in 2012.
“You have to produce an album, and this album gets into a competition, where your industry peers vote for the albums,” Guerra said. “This year, we had over 100 albums submitted from all Latin America, the United States, Spain, Portugal and Brazil, and only five were able to get the nomination.”
The classical composer was born in Cuba, and the work is a tribute to the country where he was born, and includes Guerra’s Symphony No.1 ”La Palma Real” along with “Intrata,” a piece composed by his mentor, Aurelio de la Vega. The album was recorded during a session last year in Havana, Cuba, by the National Symphony of Cuba.
“It’s a huge responsibility,” Guerra said in response to a question about how it feels to be nominated for an eighth time. “Every time you get a nomination, especially in the field of music … you need to carry some type of load in terms of trying to maintain the same high-quality product that you put out.”
Guerra said the bar is raised each year for himself because his peers, who judge his music, are experts in the field, with in-depth knowledge of the likes of Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss and all the masters of classical music.
“It’s a heavy load, but it’s a good one,” Guerra said. “It forces me to improve, to study, to maintain my feet connected to the earth.”
But as for his students at both the college and the university, he says the inspiration he gives to them is a big part of why he keeps up with his defining work.
“It’s great, it’s beautiful, but I’m still human,” Guerra said. “I suffer, I laugh, I love good things and I love to see my students succeed in life. I try to give the best of my knowledge to them and my passion toward music.”
The 2020 Latin Grammy Awards will take place on Thursday, Nov. 14, at the MGM Grand Las Vegas hotel.
“I demonstrate to them in real life that you can study and become successful at the same time,” Guerra added. “You don’t need to be a superstar to be nominated for a Grammy. You do what you have to do, and you pursue all your dreams and fight for them, doing whatever you have to do, and great things are waiting for you in return.”
Guerra’s next upcoming local performance will be at the Santa Clarita International Guitar Festival, which begins at 6 p.m. on Oct. 12. The festival is taking place inside the Performing Arts Center at COC’s Valencia Campus.
More details are available on the PAC website.