November 20, 2000 Vol. V, No. 7

Music Professor Emeritus/Composer Stays in the Spotlight

Aurelio de la Vega is Honored by Library of Congress and Campus Birthday Concert

Cal State Northridge music professor emeritus Aurelio de la Vega, an acclaimed composer who taught here for 34 years, (right)has a lot to celebrate upon reaching his 75th birthday. De la Vega is featured in two publications recently issued by the Library of Congress, and had his birthday feted on campus with a special concert.

De la Vega's music manuscript, "The Magic Labyrinth," has been included in a 733-page volume, "Music History from Primary Sources," published by the Library of Congress in July. Two of his pencil-colored graphic scores also illustrate the month of May in the library's 2001 wall calendar titled "Classical Music."

And, last Sunday, November 19, music professor Daniel Kessner and The Discovery Players, a student ensemble, performed a campus concert honoring de la Vega's birthday. With de la Vega attending, the concert included the West Coast premiere of his work "Bifloria" for solo guitar.

Music Department chair Jerry Luedders said the recent recognition of de la Vega is the latest of many awards for the Cuban-born composer. "He is internationally recognized. His compositions are performed by orchestras and distinguished artists around the world," Luedders said.

The new Library of Congress book, in addition to de la Vega's piece, includes works by Bartók, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Gershwin, Handel, Liszt, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Puccini and Stravinsky, among other great names in music history.

"When I saw the book in August, I cried," de la Vega said. "It is an honor to be included with such beautiful music." As for the calendar, de la Vega said he did not even know he was included until a friend saw one at a bookstore. "Then I went to [a bookstore] and saw a display and thought, 'Wow'."

De la Vega was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1925. He served as a cultural attaché at the Cuban Consulate in Los Angeles. He also toured the United States as a lecturer from 1952 to 1959 before settling in Los Angeles.

De la Vega then became a music professor at San Fernando Valley State College, which was renamed Cal State Northridge in 1972. De la Vega ultimately taught at the university for 34 years before retiring in 1993.

In addition to his teaching duties, de la Vega was an active composer and lecturer. His list of compositions includes symphonic pieces, chamber music, piano, ballet music, guitar and electronic music. Major orchestras and prominent soloists throughout the world have performed his works.

De la Vega has been the recipient of many prizes and distinctions, including having twice received the Friedheim Award of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. At CSUN, Luedders said de la Vega was recognized for his teaching work and for his artistry in composing.

Now, de la Vega said he is enjoying retirement. "I have been traveling more than ever and composing more than ever. In a way I am even more completely free to plunge into the music than I was before," he said.

Nonetheless, de la Vega said he misses his former colleagues and students at the university at times. "I loved to teach," he said. "One of the most beautiful things you can do is pass on to someone what you know. That communication of giving something to the next generation makes me very warm inside. When you put love into it, the students respond and that's what it's all about."

@csun | November 20, 2000 issue
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