Juan F. Ruiz

Virtuoso musicianship and a broad musical appetite combine to great advantage in this year’s legacy winner from the Longy School of Music. Composer and clarinetist Juan Ruiz began his musical studies when he was 11, studying Latin American percussion in his hometown of Caldas Antioquia, Colombia.  At 14, he began clarinet studies with Elizabeth Isaza at the University of Antioquia’s preparatory music school. He left Colombia in 2006 with a scholarship to study English and music at Atlantic Union College.  After one year he transferred to the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, MA, where he was awarded a full scholarship to study clarinet performance.

Juan performs a variety of styles, including the folk music of Colombia, Latin American music, jazz and classical music.  As a classical clarinetist, he has given solo recitals in prestigious halls in Medellin, such as the Metropolitan Theater, and at events including the Festival of Flowers. He also has performed with the Philharmonic of Medellin, as well as the Antioquia Symphony.  Currently he performs in the Boston area with orchestras such as the Nashua Symphony and Symphony Pro Musica.  Most recently, he was the winner of the Pacifica Quartet Competition at the Longy School of Music, and will be performing the Mozart Clarinet Quintet with the Pacifica Quartet in April 2010.

While still in Colombia in 2003, Juan formed a clarinet quartet that interwove popular music with classical. The group experimented with the percussive folkloric rhythms of Colombia to expand their repertoire and give range to their wide musical interests. Since moving to the U.S., Juan has performed in Boston and New York City jazz venues, including the Regatta Bar, Johnny D’s, Cachaca Bar, Iridium Jazz Club and the Highline Ballroom.  He recently played clarinet and saxophone with the Gregorio Uribe Big Band.

Juan combines his Latin roots and classical training in his original compositions as well. He approaches music with a spirit of curiosity, and his compositions are informed by his childhood experiences, his home country, and the optimism he perceives among Colombians. One of his most rewarding compositions, “Trip to Latin America,“ inspired by folkloric music and culture, was commissioned by the Longy School of Music’s Community Program division. Other works in this theme include “A mis Abuelos” and “A mi Tierra.“

Juan is currently pursuing an undergraduate diploma in Composition at the Longy School and continuing his clarinet studies. In the future, he plans to form his own group, sharing his music and Columbian culture with audiences throughout the world.