Anastasia Sonaranda, with some of the diverse family of guitars from Latin America.

For the next few weeks, three artists-in-residence will be working with local professional artists and students through the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society (CCGS) and Comite Mexicano de Cleveland: Anastasia Guzman Sonaranda, from Mexico; Hermelindo Ruiz, from Puerto Rico; and Thomas Flippin, from the continental USA. These artists are guitarists and composers who have adapted to the new circumstances and will be working online, given the current health crisis.

According to Erik Mann, executive director of the CCGS, students from the city of Cleveland will have the opportunity to interact and work with these renowned international artists: “We have about 100 students working with us virtually right now, mostly on one-on-one instruction. We offer them mentorship and musical instruction. Many never had the opportunity to study an instrument before.”

Besides composing or arranging works for students, these three guitarists will be working with Cleveland professional musicians and artists.

This project, entitled Guitarra democrática (Democratic Guitar), is funded through the Creative Fusion program of the Cleveland Foundation.

Mann adds: “We are planning on everything to be done virtually, with video projects. It’s our hope that Anastasia and Hermelindo can come next summer for a few days and one performance, but we have no idea if that will happen. When our concert series returns to normal, we will have Duo Noire perform (of which Thomas Flippin is a member) and plan to have them perform their new work with local professional musicians then (in addition to doing a video project on it first, of course).”

Recently, five advanced students from CCGS recorded a piece composed by Thomas Flippin on the killing of Michael Brown in 2014. This video premiered at the Guitar Foundation of America Virtual Convention in 2020, was also shown at Station Hope, and can be seen here: The five-minute video, entitled Beyond Ferguson, was directed by Brian Gaudino and Rodrigo Lara Alonso, with photography by Noel Pacheco. It received national attention and opens with a fragment of “I’m gonna die today,” by Pacheco, that reads:

Hands cuffed behind back

Body pinned to his death bed

Hidden under the cop car

Black flesh rots on the ground

It also shows words by one of the students, Damian Goggans:

Y’all continue to kill us

cause you just can’t see

that there ain’t no difference

between you and me

Throughout the video, while the guitars are played, students recite words from “This Double-Consciousness,” a work by W.E.B. Du Bois from 1903 that talks about racial discrimination. The video ends with the students raising their hands in surrender.

While working with CCGS students, Flippin will create a new composition on social justice and race relations. He will also be composing a work for Duo Noire with local musicians about the COVID-19 crisis.

Erik Mann informs that Anastasia Sonaranda will create works related to the music of Mexico and other Latin American countries, while Hermelindo Ruiz will work on pieces and arrangements of Puerto Rican music. It is still unknown how many pieces Anastasia and Hermelindo will create.

It is expected, according to Mann, that the first online performances will be ready to view by the end of the year or beginning of 2021. During normal times, performers come regularly to work with students from CCGS and participate in a concert in their International Series. So far, artists from around all the world, from twenty different countries, have participated in these kinds of activities.

“The longest we have hosted someone for was a week. It has always been a great experience and very enlightening to learn about different cultures. But this is a very different project, where we have an artist-in-residence working with us for month,” says Mann.

For more information about the CCGS or to make a donation visit

The Artists:

Hermelindo Ruiz

Hermelindo Ruiz is a guitarist and composer of Puerto Rican origin. He holds a Master’s Degree and Artist Diploma from Yale University, and a doctorate from the University of Kentucky. His most recent academic engagements include activities at Harvard University, Melbourne University, UNAM Center of Chicago, and CARING at Columbia University.  He has been praised as a“refined composer, creative guitarist, and a person of great virtues,” by the Puerto Rican Association of UNESCO. He has performed concerts in 12 countries, including stages such as the Carnegie Hall in New York, Festival Áureo Herrero in Spain, Festival ICPNA in Perú, Wyselaskie Auditorium in Australia, Saint Church Hall in New Zealand, among others.

Ruiz has been awarded by more than a dozen entities with awards such as the “Andrés Segovia” (Compostela, Spain 2011) and the “Orden Ángel Mislán” (P.R. 2009). His creative mind makes him one of the most prolific Latin American guitarists; his musical compositions are frequently played in all continents around the world. He has released three musical CDs of unconventional repertoire; two music books; and has collaborated with some of the top Latin-American interdisciplinary artists, such as Antonio Martorell, Danny Rivera, Rafael Dávila, and Leo Brouwer.

Hermelindo’s dream is to foster creativity in our society and to remind ourselves to live the essential things of life through the virtues of arts and education.

Anastasia Sonaranda

Anastasia Sonaranda is a guitar player, composer and singer born in Mexico City. She completed her professional formation as a guitar soloist at the UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico) School of Music, where she graduated from as the first guitarist in doing so with her own compositions combining both folkloric and academic components. She considers herself a mentee of musicians Julio César Oliva, Marco Antonio Anguiano, and Miguel Peña. Also, she has complemented her education with renowned teachers in diverse disciplines, such as composition (Leo Brouwer and Jorge Ritter), guitar, harmony, jazz, singing, and popular and traditional music.

Anastasia has recorded four discs: Sonaranda, Son que ara y anda (2003), Sonaranda Puksi´ ik´ al Xochiltzin (2005), Anastasia Guzmán Sonaranda Anthology (Satin, 2010), and Ílhuitl (2016). She is currently finishing her fifth album, titled Guacamaya. At the same time, she develops musical projects in the Selva Lacandona, a rainforest area in Chiapas, Mexico, to promote ecology consciousness and cultural heritage. She promotes peace and preservation of Mexican and Latin American identity. Her work is highly influenced by Mesoamerican Cosmovision, especially by the work of anthropologist Alfredo López Austin.

She has received two grants from the National Fund for Culture and the Arts, as a Mexican Traditional Musician and as a Young Creator. She is currently a member of the National System of Creators. She was the chief coordinator of the prize-winning project Mexican Guitar, as part of the collection Musical Testimony of Mexico, edited by the National Institute of Anthropology and History.

Her music has been performed in Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia, either by prominent national and international guitarists, different types of ensembles, and by herself. Anastasia gives conferences, courses, and specialized workshops in Mexican and Latin American Guitar. Her music ranges from solo guitar, chamber and orchestral ensembles, and songs.

Thomas Flippin

Thomas Flippin graduated with honors from the University of Chicago, where he was awarded the undergraduate composition prize. He then earned Master of Music and Artist Diploma degrees from the Yale School of Music. He studied composition in courses taught by David Lang, Martin Bresnick, and Michelle McQuade DeWhirst. Additional studies were with Ingram Marshall and John Anthony Lennon. His primary teachers were Benjamin Verdery, Denis Azabagic, and Dr. Julie Goldberg. He is currently on faculty at Concordia College Conservatory and the Diller Quaile School of Music and is an avid mountaineer.

Flippin is an original and versatile voice in the world of contemporary music. Whether premiering new works with his pioneering classical guitar ensemble, Duo Noire; performing avant-garde art songs on the theorbo as part of Alicia Hall Moran’s Black Wall Street; or plucking the banjo in the American Repertory Theater’s critically-acclaimed premiere of The Black Clown, Flippin’s playing has been hailed as “lovely” (New York Times), and “spectacularly precise” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch).

Recent concert highlights include performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, National Sawdust, The Metropolitan Museum, Beijing’s Peking University, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Flippin has performed in concerts featuring MacArthur Fellow Jason Moran, Renee Fleming, Imani Winds, and members of Eighth Blackbird and the Emerson String Quartet. Upcoming projects include a new commission from GRAMMY-nominated composer Nathalie Joachim.

His 2018 album, Night Triptych, was released on New Focus Recordings as the culmination of a 2015 project he launched with the Diller Quaile School of Music to address the lack of female representation in classical music. Featuring new works exclusively by leading women composers, it was praised for being a “truly pathbreaking recording” (AllMusic), that is “astounding” for its “sheer musicality” and “goldmine of ideas and feelings” (Stereophile). It was named one of the Best Classical Music albums of 2018 by both All Music and I Care if You Listen.


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