Published: Oct. 21, 2021 By
Las Dahlias

Photo: Teresita Lozano, left, with members of her group Las Dahlias. Members of the Colorado-based Mexican chamber ensemble seek to musically evoke the voices, particularly female voices, of their heritage.

"CU Boulder is at the center of how I made my connections," says alumna Teresita Lozano (PhD ’20) who started a tenure track position as Assistant Professor of Musicology (Ethnomusicology) at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley this fall. "These connections underscore how important community engagement is. 

"Bridging the campus community and our greater community is what’s made me who I am. Community engagement completely enriched my life."

Indeed, upon participating in mariachi music at CU, Lozano decided to create a Mexican chamber music ensemble to "make everything that I was studying relevant, real and applicable." So inspired, she soon co-founded a traditional Mexican women’s chamber ensemble, Las Dahlias, which in July provided music for the opening of Play Ball Park, Major League Baseball's family-friendly "FanFest" at the Colorado Convention Center.

Lozano also proceeded to sing and make music for Motus Theater's "UndocuMonologues" by which undocumented monologists shared autobiographical stories about their dreams, hopes and fears. "Suddenly, I spent five years working with these people, even creating my own monologue about my family’s immigration experience," she says of her stint with the Boulder-based theater. "I gained a better understanding of what it's like to be Mexican American."

Adds the Borderland music specialist, "All of this became a spiderweb where everything is connected—my artistry, my scholarship, my dissertation research and my activism in the immigrant community.

"Last year, only 11 Latina PhDs in music studies and performance of any kind were awarded across the country. When I found out, I felt my struggles were worth it—I was happy to be one of the people who made that number not zero. But that number needs to go up—that's what's important to me."

Currently, Lozano is working on a book project that builds on the work of her dissertation research about ghost smuggling ballads. "These series of songs or stories set to music are about migrant experiences crossing the desert from Mexico to the United States and encountering an apparition of a priest who helps them cross the border," she explains. "There are thousands of migrants who will go back to give thanks for his help. He's become kind of the unofficial patron saint of immigration or migrants."

Teresita Lozano—along with doctoral candidate Raul Dominguez and alumnus Brice Smith—is a participant in the Cleveland Institute of Music's 2021 Future of Music Faculty Fellowship Program, representing a critical step forward in creating a culture of diversity in music.