Elena Moreno: Music is My Life

Elena Moreno, conductor

Music hooked Elena Moreno early on. As a teenager, she listened to the everything her peers did, plus the older Mexican boleros, Broadway musicals, classical opera and more. By the time she finished high school, she could play and sing pieces in all those genres. She was passionate about music, but she was also a realist.

Elena Moreno, singer

Elena Moreno, singer

It was tough enough for musicians in the United States and Europe to make a living. In Mexico, especially in Monterrey where everything boiled down to business, financial success for musicians was an even longer shot. So Elena went to Monterrey Tec where she participated in music and theatre activities while earning a B.A. in Human Resources.

But music kept calling. In 1990, a decade before we all hopped on the Net for instant information. Elena and her parents started borrowing college catalogs wherever they could and pouring over information about music programs in the United States and Europe. Elena set her sights on a German school. She worked a day job, started private German lessons and—always—practiced music.

Elena Moreno, conductor

Elena Moreno, conductor

When her brother finished his Ph.D. at North Dakota State University, the family went to Fargo for his graduation. Elena and her parents had arranged an interview with a professor in the Music Department. They liked what they saw. The university would accept some of her undergrad credits from Monterrey Tec, and they offered her a healthy scholarship. Three years later, Elena had a B.A. in Music (Vocal Performance) with a minor in Piano, and she was headed to the University of Connecticut for a Master’s.

The New England years were good ones, full of serious music study, a TA position, choir and concert recitals and theatre performances. After an M.M. in Vocal Performance, she kept going. She earned her second Master’s in Historical Musicology.  She loved Connecticut, but she also loved Monterrey. The States offered more job opportunities, but Monterrey was where her family and her heart were. “I wished I could live in a place with the best of both worlds,” Elena says of the decision she had to make.   

Listening to a student

Listening to a student

She returned to Mexico in 2001. Monterrey Tec, founded to supply Monterrey and Mexico with well-prepared engineers and business people, desired to provide academic music courses to its students. Elena spent the next nine years as a full-time instructor at the Tec, helping develop the music program. Her life was busy with teaching, committees, concerts, conferences and, above all, nurturing young musicians. Gradually, the focus of the music area developed in the direction of music technology.

In July, 2010, Elena decided it was time to strike out on her own. She began teaching private lessons, accepting only experienced students who were serious about their musical studies. Elena’s face lights up and she punctuates her comments with expressive hand movements.  “If I see someone with talent, I want to get all that I can out of them.”

Asked about the twelve-man Schola Cantorum, Elena again enthuses, “A choir, on the other hand, is about shining as a group, not as an individual.” In 2010, the Schola, composed of students at the Monterrey Archdiocesan Seminary, was in need of a director just about the time Elena was wrapping up her duties at the Tec. It’s been a match made in heaven.

Performing

Performing

When the mother of one of Elena’s adult students explains why students are so devoted to her, she doesn’t cite Elena’s credentials or experience. Those are givens. “She pushes her students hard. They have to be serious and work. But she’s also a little bit of a mother to them. They know she really cares about them.”

Asked if she would do it all over again, knowing how her life has turned out, Elena responds, “In music, most people don’t get rich, but you work where your heart is. There are the professional, spiritual and financial areas of life. The financial shouldn’t be the most important. The fulfillment when I’m teaching and singing, it’s so gratifying. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. Music is my life, not simply my professional.”     

The student who suggested Elena for this blog post sits by smiling. “That’s so typical of the things she’s always telling us.”

Elena smiles and squeezes the young woman’s hand. “I also say that God finds me nice people.”

 

Comments

  1. Davyd Morris says:

    A lovely story about a woman of great talents. It is inspiring to hear that she found her greatest calling in teaching others from her home town to hone their talents.

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