The Jacksonville Symphony Furthers DEI Strides and Welcomes Visiting Sphinx Violist Carlos Lozano

Musician Spotlight, Interviews

The Jacksonville Symphony Furthers DEI Strides and Welcomes Visiting Sphinx Violist Carlos Lozano

Through robust Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, the Jacksonville Symphony is making sure that symphonic music is accessible to all, both on and off the stage.  

Part of the Symphony’s DEI strategy is to diversify audiences who attend the Symphony’s concerts and to recruit and retain musicians from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. Partnering with the Symphony in its efforts is Sphinx, a social justice organization whose mission is to “transform lives through the power of diversity in the arts.”  

Musicians who are just beginning their musical journeys, seasoned professionals, administrators and entrepreneurs are among the many individuals who Sphinx supports. The organization provides a wide variety of services that highlight musicians’ achievements and foster their artistic growth. These initiatives include year-round, tuition-free education, performances, creative youth development opportunities, sector-wide partnerships with 300+ organizations, new commissions by Black and Latinx composers and many others.  

Violist Carlos Lozano has participated in Sphinx’s programs for several years and will be joining the Jacksonville Symphony on September 30 and October 1 for its first Florida Blue Classical Series program of the 2022/23 season: Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Read on to get to know Lozano and learn about his inspiring story.  

An Interview with Carlos Lozano 

Originally from Mérida, Yucatán, Lozano began his formal classical studies in the violin at the age of 14. His teacher, who was a musician in the Yucatan Symphony Orchestra, often invited Lozano to her performances, which sparked his passion for the art of symphonic music. By watching professional musicians perform over time, he realized that one day, he too wanted to play his part in a symphonic orchestra.  

“Music is a language and an entirely unique form of expression. It loosens up the locks in our soul so that we can open that door and show other people who we truly are,” said Lozano. “I think music is one of the only forms of communication that can easily allow us to do that, which is why I am so drawn to it.” 

In 2013, Lozano’s dream led him to the United States where he began pursuing his bachelor’s degree in music performance at Andrews University in Michigan. In the final two years of his program, however, Lozano began taking elective courses to study viola and developed a deep appreciation for the instrument. Though he continues to play the violin in his free time, the viola has become his full-time, primary instrument. After his graduation, Lozano received his master’s degree in viola studies from Western Michigan University, and he is currently attending the Chicago College of Performing Arts for his diploma in orchestral studies.  

Lozano explains that when he was in Mexico, the need to curate diversity in the performing arts was not as prominent since many orchestras consisted of musicians who were from all over the world. When he came to the United States, however, he noticed there was a troubling lack of diversity across symphonies and wanted to become involved in addressing this disparity.  

“In a diverse orchestra, there are many diverse voices, which is very enriching for our communities. Being in an orchestra is not just about playing your instrument but also about connecting with other musicians through different thoughts and ideas,” said Lozano. “Through this dialogue, we can improve the way we make art, the way we interact with other people and the way we connect with ourselves.”   

In 2017, Lozano began working with Sphinx when he applied for a fellowship for SphinxConnect, which is the largest and longest-standing convening dedicated to DEI efforts in classical music. The annual conference welcomes hundreds of musicians, educators and other distinguished industry leaders to Detroit, Michigan, to participate in over 30 sessions dedicated to DEI initiatives.  

This opportunity allowed Lozano to meet musicians from across the globe and participate in the Sphinx Orchestral Partners Auditions (SOPA) Excerpt Competition a year later. SOPA provides Black and Latinx orchestral musicians with the opportunity to audition for a panel representing several orchestras that seek to invite musicians to auditions, pre-advancement at auditions and/or placement on substitute player lists. 

As a result of his participation in SOPA, Lozano most recently performed with the Charlotte Symphony in North Carolina and excitedly awaits his upcoming performances with the Jacksonville Symphony on September 30 and October 1.  

Lozano’s dream is to be a full-time, symphonic musician, and though he faces competition in the music industry, Lozano states that getting to perform with the Jacksonville Symphony has provided a reminder that he gets closer to achieving his dream with every new opportunity.  

“Working with Sphinx and organizations like the Jacksonville Symphony have been such uplifting experiences because they provide me with opportunities that I would not have access to otherwise,” explained Lozano. “This helps motivate me because I am given a glimpse of what it is like to play with a professional orchestra and such esteemed musicians. I have seen firsthand the version of myself I ultimately want to become.”