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Zanaida Stewart Robles

Zanaida Robles.jpeg

Dr. Zanaida Stewart Robles is an award-winning Black American female composer, vocalist, and teacher. She is a fierce advocate for diversity and inclusion in music education and performance. Authentic interpersonal connection and relationship-building are core principles of her teaching and performance methods. Born, raised, and educated in Southern California on the occupied lands of the Gabrielino-Tongva people, she is in demand as a composer, vocalist, clinician and adjudicator for competitions, festivals, and conferences related to choral and solo vocal music. 

Dr. Robles holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the USC Thornton School of Music, a Master of Music degree from CSU Northridge, a Bachelor of Music degree from CSU Long Beach, and she is a graduate of the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts.

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Premiering at the 2022-2023 concert, Made in LA: Identity and Belonging in the City of Angels
Cantata for treble chorus, piano, cello, and percussion

Lyrics from Movement 2: Bilingual

My father liked them separate, one there,

one here (allá y aquí), as if aware

that words might cut in two his daughter’s heart (el corazón)

and lock the alien part

to what he was—his memory, his name

(su nombre)—with a key he could not claim.

“English outside this door, Spanish inside,”

he said, “y basta.” But who can divide

the world, the word (mundo y palabra) from

any child? I knew how to be dumb

and stubborn (testaruda); late, in bed,

I hoarded secret syllables I read

until my tongue (mi lengua) learned to run

where his stumbled. And still the heart was one.

I like to think he knew that, even when,

proud (orgulloso) of his daughter’s pen,

he stood outside mis versos, half in fear

of words he loved but wanted not to hear.

Words from Zanaida Stewart Robles:

"This work employs the poetry of American women from different cultural backgrounds to tell a story of pain, power, and revelation often experienced by persons for whom the intersectionality of multiple socio-cultural identities is a life-long journey. Whether its race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, economic status, or sexual orientation, the struggle to confidently express one's multiple socio-cultural identities without being damaged or diluted by society is ongoing. It's about finding commonality, connection, and empathy from our similarities and differences. And it's about self-love.

The poets features throughout this work is Rhina P. Espaillat, Tina Chang, Zanaida Stewart Robles, and Amy Forgerson."

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