October 12, 2017
Insider Interview with Aldemaro Romero, Jr.
Aldemaro Romero Jr.
Aldemaro Romero Jr.
Baruch College

On November 17 at 6:30 pm Baruch PAC pays tribute to one of the kings of Latin Jazz: Aldemaro Romero, Sr. We spoke with the legend's son and Dean of Baruch's Weissman School of Arts and Sciences Aldemaro Romero Jr. about his father's music, his own career as a conductor, and the world premiere that will be performed at this Venezuelan fiesta. Tickets are $36 ($16 Students) and available online.

Question: What impressed you most about your father and his musical career?

Aldemaro Romero, Jr.: Two things: first, because he was refused entrance at the only conservatory of music in Venezuela at that time (he was told he did not have “musical ear”), he had to learn everything about music by himself. The second was how he was able to be a composer of music ranging from popular and folkloric to academic, while showing a great deal of creativity and innovation in every genre.

Q: How did his musical interests rub off on you?

AR: When I was 4 years old I conducted my father’s orchestra. According to a Venezuela newspaper clip that my mother kept, I knew all of his music by ear. My mother told me that the idea of my conducting his orchestra came to my father when he saw me mimicking his conducting mannerisms at a very early age. I was probably just trying to imitate him after seeing him conduct in his own shows on TV. So, he started to bring me to his television shows (all of which were live) to conduct the orchestra. That brought me some notoriety: I was even hired for a cameo appearance conducting an orchestra in a full-length Venezuelan movie titled Papalepe.

Q: How did you know that science would be your chosen career?

AR: I clearly remember when I decided to become a scientist: It was Saturday, October 5th, 1957. I was a 6-year-old kid living in Venezuela; I was an avid reader and I read the newspaper every day. I recall the big headlines for that day in El Nacional, the Soviets had launched an artificial satellite named Sputnik. To me, the fact that someone could put an object in orbit was “really cool.”

I became so entrenched with the news that I started to read everything I could about space exploration and astronomy. My father brought some astronomy and space exploration books from one of his trips to the U.S. The books were, of course, in English, and I taught myself to read English by either asking him to translate the text, by using a dictionary or just by guessing what was in print. I asked “Santa” for a telescope for Christmas that year. I remember spending countless hours looking through the telescope and studying a poster of the solar system.

Q: How did your family feel about your not following in your father’s footsteps?

AR: My mother didn’t mind it. After all, most musicians were known for being up late, partying a lot, etc. My father, on the other hand, always wanted me to become a musician, but when he realized that my real interest was in science he respected my wishes and supported me. When I was adamant about following a scientific career, he told me “OK, you can be what you want, as long as you do not become a mediocrity.” That stuck with me for the rest of my life.

Q: Tell me about the world premiere we will hear in the concert, the Capriccio para Viola y piano – when and how did you discover this piece?

AR: When the idea of this concert developed, I asked my father’s widow, Ms. Elizabeth Rossi-Romero, to provide me with a piece for piano and strings that had never been performed before. Also, Selene Quiroga, the pianist who will be the main performer at the concert on November 17, proposed to play the world premiere of another piece, The Second Movement of a Concert for Teresa. Selene created the arrangement, and the entire Alexander String Quartet will accompany her.

Q: What do you think your father would say if he were here tonight?

AR: First, he would have been really amazed that I ended up working in the very same exact location (though a totally different building) where he began his recording career. Second, he would start telling me stories about his years as a RCA Victor artist at that time.

Q: What do you hope people will come away with after hearing this concert of your father’s music?

AR: Not only to have a better understanding of the range of music and originality my father was able to compose, but also to realize the high quality of modern Venezuelan performers like Selene Quiroga and the other Venezuelan musicians that will participate.

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