Cintas Foundation Awards MSU

Composition student receives prestigious fellowship in support of Cuban artists.

Ivette Herryman Rodriguez arrived at MSU in 2014 to work toward her doctorate in music composition as well as her master’s in music theory.

A Cuban doctoral student in composition at the MSU College of Music has received a fellowship through a prestigious foundation that has supported Cuban arts outside of Cuba since 1963. 

Ivette Herryman Rodriguez joins the 2015-2016 list of fellows selected through the annual CINTAS Foundation Fellowship Competition. Herryman Rodriguez was chosen from a field of five finalists for the CINTAS Foundation Brandon Fradd Fellowship in Music Composition—an award that places her in the company of past music fellows and influential artists such as Mario Bauzá, Tania León, and Yosvany Terry.

“It’s incredibly unique for a student to win this competition when previous recipients have been professional composers,” says Ricardo Lorenz, MSU associate professor of composition and chair of the Composition Area. “Ivette has an incredible level of maturity as a composer—partly because of her intense schooling and immense legacy of being raised in Cuba where music infiltrates every part of your being.”

Herryman Rodriguez was born in Cuba in 1982 and began studying piano at the age of 8. She graduated from the Instituto Superior de Artes in 2006 with her bachelor’s degree in music and taught there for three years. Herryman Rodriguez went on to win several awards as a pianist and composer in Cuba, and to serve as a composer in residence in Mexico and El Salvador for the Opera of El Salvador. She came to the United States in 2011 to earn her master’s in music composition from Baylor University in Texas. In 2014, she arrived at MSU to work toward her doctorate in music composition as well as her master’s in music theory.

Lorenz recalls the day when Herryman Rodriguez first came to the state of Michigan.

“It was minus 10 degrees,” he laughs. “It was so shocking to her, but I told her, ‘listen, just think, this is the type of climate that a lot of the composers we admire come from—like Beethoven, for instance.”

Herryman Rodriguez concurs that the weather never stood in her way of choosing MSU.

“Two things immediately caught my attention when I interviewed here,” she says. “First, I knew composition students have the opportunity to have their works read by large ensembles from the College. Second, I knew that Professor Lorenz was from Latin America and would understand my desire to show my Cuban roots through my music.”

Herryman Rodriguez says that MSU is helping her to take her artistry to the next level. Being encouraged to believe in herself and to take risks, she says, has shaped her approach to composition and prompts her to build on all her musical and cultural experiences to date. She added, too, that her ability to apply and successfully compete for the $10,000 CINTAS Fellowship reflects the confidence she’s gained since becoming a Spartan, as well as the influence of all her lead composition professors, including Juan Piñera in Cuba, Scott McAllister at Baylor, and Lorenz at MSU.

“I just couldn’t believe I was selected as a fellow,” says Herryman Rodriguez. “It was something I really wanted to happen, but honestly, I thought it was too big for me. People who have won this prize are composers that I’ve studied. Having this spot among them is truly unreal. But I’m very happy to get to a place where someone says 'well done.’”

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