Commercial Music students spread holiday cheer with their shared talents

“It’s not about the business, or the music necessarily, it’s about the people." - Ganae Osorio

UVU’s 2018 holiday video features four School of the Arts commercial music majors, jamming out in front of the soon-to-open Noorda Center for the Performing Arts.

 Pianist and student Jose Cabrera arranged this version of “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” for the video, and was accompanied by additional student musicians Ganae Osorio, Norbert Farakas and Tyler Ruiz to bring this jazzy twist on an old favorite to life.

Celebrating UVU’s unique diversity

“The school has a variety of cultural backgrounds, and although the Christmas song is from the US, I wanted to make the arrangement include rhythms like Samba from Brazil and a bit of swing, to represent the variety that the university stands for,” Cabrera said. “UVU is a home for me. The variety of students here make me feel like I fit in. I don't feel like a foreign student because there are so many cultural backgrounds.”

Cabrera is, technically, a freshman in UVU’s Commercial Music program. He and his wife and their four kids moved here from the Dominican Republic, where Cabrera was a teacher at a music conservatory, to focus their lives on their autistic son’s education and care. The financial strain this decision created for his family was relieved by the generosity of a UVU donor.

“In finding this angel, we found the answer to so many good people praying for our family,” Cabrera said. “She gave me this scholarship, but it's not about me. It’s going to impact my whole family forever.”

When they visited Utah to see if the school could provide the necessary care for their son, Cabrera said he was moved by the sheer number of qualified people who were interested in his well-being and success. So, he and his wife decided to make the move to Utah. Following that decision, Cabrera enrolled at UVU as a stepping stone to keeping his family in the States legally.

Norbert Farkas will be a commercial music student studying bass in the coming semester. He hails from Budapest, Hungary, and enjoys the holiday season with family and friends.

Osorio, whose vocals compliment the band in the track, said she has found such support and comfort from the contemporary music professors at UVU, who see her as a person, not just a student. She attended two other universities before settling in at UVU, where she says she has been able to thrive.

“I feel like I fit in here,” Osorio said. “They’re like my family - and I think that really starts with the faculty. I can be myself, learn in the way I need to learn, and gel with my peers so well.”

Although he has an extensive professional background in piano performance, Cabrera said that hasn’t prevented him from becoming an even better musician.

“In music, I never feel like I know it all,” Cabrera said “I feel like I’m learning every day. They way they approach and study things here is different, so I’ve benefitted. It was always my dream to come and study music in the US.”

Musical excellence comes with learned wisdom

Confidence and a happy life are Osorio’s secret to musical success. She said she does the things she loves, and doesn’t do the things she doesn’t feel passionate about.

“Be in alignment with yourself, so we can hear you through your music,” Osorio said.

“I want to be the guy you think of when you think of music - anything that has to do with music,” Cabrera said. “I really want to get into film scoring. Then you’re writing for feelings and sensations - it’s a different approach. The music has to be there, but not be there.”

Although he believes in the power of hard work and never giving up, he knows there are pitfalls to creativity. He cautions students of the arts who, in the process of learning, find themselves becoming too much like other artists.

“Just focus on trying to find yourself. Of course learning from others and paying attention to what they do is important,” Cabrera said. “The process is: observe, listen, intake for a little while and then emulate. When you get to that point, you can actually find yourself creatively.”

Farakas’ seasonal traditions include, besides eating delicious meals, playing songs with his loved ones. To be a part of this holiday project was a part of his greater goal as a musician, which he cites as being able to play in live and studio groups of talented musicians.

“Don’t forget to take care of the music you have inside,” Farakas said. “Share your honest musical ideas with the world even if they are weird or not popular. You might start a whole new thing that inspires others. You never know.”

Making the video come to life

Despite the chilly conditions, the warmth of the track is conveyed easily by the musicians who, in the course of creating the video, became fast friends.

“It’s not about the business, or the music necessarily, it’s about the people,” Osorio said. “The point of music is to develop connections between different worlds and different people.”

Although the band was formed just for the video, the time they spent arranging, recording and shooting brought them together to discuss not only music but each other’s families and personal lives. Osorio said they spent at least an hour just showing off pictures of their children, laughing and joking in a familiar way.

Cabrera said that in the process of shooting the video in front of the new Noorda Center, he was also given a tour of the building, and was blown away by what opportunities it would afford the students who would get to learn and grow within its walls.

“The hands-on training in a space that nice will prepare you to do professional work,” Cabrera said. “It’s just like real life.”

The Noorda Center for the Performing Arts will open to students in January 2019. A ribbon-cutting ceremony on March 25, 2019 will local and national celebrity guests and a celebration of the arts for all.