Live To Inspire: José Antonio Guerrero Ortiz ’09
August 5, 2015
José Antonio Guerrero Ortiz doesn’t just love music, it’s his identity. Born in Corpus Christi and raised in Monterrey, N.L., Mexico, Guerrero Ortiz ’09 has been a performer for 25 years playing piano, Spanish, classical, and Flamenco guitar, and composing. The music major began studying classical guitar and piano at age eight. After a decade honing his craft, he auditioned at Texas Lutheran University. Although he was admitted, he was unable to relocate at the time and decided to stay closer to his family in Corpus Christi.
“I decided to go to Del Mar College because being from a very tight knit Hispanic family, going away to school was not really a thing that happened,” Guerrero Ortiz said. “I actually got into Juilliard when I was 15, but I didn’t go. I kept playing music and at 19, my life changed. I became a traveling musician and played in jazz and salsa bands all over until I was about 24. I was sharing the stage with famous artists like Strunz and Farah, Jose Feliciano, Lara and Reyes, and Guadalupe Esparza. I was living the dream, but TLU was always in the back of my mind.”
After five years successfully performing and touring, he stopped. He took a job in a Corpus Christi refinery as a security guard. Recently married and a new father, he stepped away from music.
“I just stopped playing,” Guerrero Ortiz said. “I thought that maybe that part of my life was over and it was time to go into something else. I was working 13-hour shifts seven days a week. And one day, I brought my guitar in to pass some time. I saw my supervisor coming and tried to hide it in the back of my car. He came up to me and asked what I had and I told him. Then he told me to play something for him. I did and once I finished he brought up TLU and everything I told him about it previously. He told me to clock out, call them, and see if they would still admit me. He said, in much rougher language, that if I came back the next day to work, he would kick me out.”
He called the university the next day.
“I spoke with Shaaron Conoly and Michael Soupkup, the two music professors I first auditioned for,” Guerrero Ortiz said. “They remembered me and told me I was automatically accepted. I couldn’t believe they remembered me. I moved my family to Seguin and began classes in spring 2005 and graduated in 2009. I carry TLU with me everywhere I go. It’s like a treasure. ”
After leaving TLU, Guerrero Ortiz taught classical guitar in New Braunfels and received a master’s in music, classical guitar performance, and musicology from Texas State University in 2013. He then moved to Izmir, Turkey to pursue his Ph.D. in music and classical guitar studies at Yaşar University. Currently, he teaches private lessons at The Institute of Musical Arts in San Antonio and is composing an album.
“Being at TLU was so important for my life,” Guerrero Ortiz said. “The experience I had and the closeness of the community formed a bond with professors, administration, and my classmates. I always knew what I was going to do with my life and TLU made me not give up on it. Your dreams are just dreams. They can happen. Music is who I am and what I am in this world.”
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