Wichita State University is home to many all over the world. For David Perez, a Cuban native, it was the place to be to learn his passion for music.
Perez, a graduate organ performance student in his last semester, said that his decision on a master’s program in the United States was hard, but he knew that Wichita State University was the perfect fit for what he was looking for.
“I decided to come to WSU because I was amazed by the teachers we have here. We talked about the program and everything I can do here to perfect my organ skills . . . I knew I was going to get the best personal attention here, which is what I was looking for and I have made a lot of progress in my abilities,” Perez said.
Perez started playing the organ at 16, when he was studying at a conservatory in Cuba. Perez said that he found the organ extremely fascinating and took the leap of faith to getting a master’s degree.
“The thing that really made me come here was because I wanted a master’s degree and the organ in Cuba is a forgotten tradition . . . We don’t have graduate studies at universities in Cuba so that is why I decided to perfect myself and my organ skills,” Perez said.
He has spent the last two years in Wichita, far away from home for the first time in his life. Perez said he misses his family and friends back home.
“I really miss my family, that’s what I miss the most,” Perez said. “I have a lot of friends in Cuba who I used to hang out with all the time and I remember on Sundays we would get Cuban coffee and catch up . . . I want to go back to Cuba in the future and teach, restore instruments, and promote competitions.”
As a musician, Perez said that COVID-19 impacted him in many different ways. Not being able to collaborate and perform with others was hard for him.
“I consider myself a performer and it’s hard when you have so many limitations on performing because of social distancing and no concerts,” Perez said. “I’m grateful for technology so we can live stream but it is not the same experience for me.”
Perez also had a hard time finding a performing job during COVID-19, because many positions were cancelled or not needed anymore.
“It has also been difficult because I was looking for jobs and it was really hard during that time . . . It was a shutdown for everybody; for musicians, it was even harder,” Perez said. “As musicians, we are always collaborating with other musicians so making relationships in the music world is really important, at least to m.”
After completing his last semester, Perez said he would like to continue his career as a performer to make a living and gain more experience as an organist. He is applying to positions in and outside of the state and hopes to learn more about the organ tradition in America.
“I am kinda privileged because I’m the first generation of Cuban organists so I want to promote the organ tradition in Cuba,” Perez said.
Perez said that his favorite thing about attending WSU has been the people he has met.
“It’s true when people say that Kansans are really nice people, I feel blessed and happy that I can engage so well with people from the school of music because it’s my own little world here,” Perez said. “I’ve been able to make friends with colleagues and collaborate with them in a very easy and healthy way.”