entertainment

Mexican-American Conductor Jessica Bejarano Is Showing The Power Of Representation In Classical Music

When you think of a conductor for a symphony orchestra, the image of a male suited up with tails and wielding a baton is usually what comes to mind. Mexican-American conductor Jessica Bejarano, who sports multiple tattoos on her arms, is working to change that image to be more inclusive for the multiple communities she is a part of.

Growing up in Bell Gardens in southeast Los Angeles County, Bejarano lived with her single mother and two other siblings. She grew up hearing the sounds of loud gang members and gunshots before she ever heard the notes of classical music.

Jessica Bejarano is taking up space as a Latina woman in the orchestral conductor community.

The 38-year-old told PBS she credits classical music with saving her life.

“Unfortunately kids get arrested, kids are murdered, kids are imprisoned, kids get pregnant. I defied all those odds, I didn’t become any of those statistics because music was always there to keep me on a straight path,” she told PBS’ Chasing the Dream.

Bejarano started playing the trumpet in elementary school through college. However, it wasn’t until she was in an orchestral class at Pasadena City College that she became interested in classical music.

She can even pinpoint the specific piece of music that made her fall in love with classical music.

She told KCRW one rehearsal in college sparked an intense love for classical music when she heard the orchestra play Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5.

“What is this music, and why is this the first time I’m ever listening to it? It was like an instant spark in my being, in my energy, in my body. I will never forget that evening,” she told KCRW’s Press Play. “I knew at that point, I needed to know more about classical music, and I needed to immerse myself as much as possible.”

She knew that he needed to chase the education that would help her open doors.

From that moment, Bejarano went full force into attaining the education she needed to become a conductor. She went to the University of Wyoming to attain her Bachelor of Music in Music Education and she pursued a Master of Arts in Conducting from the University of California, Davis.

However, her background was questioned by music instructors in her program. It was as if they questioned why someone who looked like her wanted to or thought they could be a conductor.

In an interview with XQsi magazine in 2010, Bejarano shared the shocking statement an instructor made to her.

After sharing her dream to be a conductor, she said the instructor told her, “Are you serious, you really want to become an orchestral conductor? Why don’t you try going down to Mexico, you might have better luck down there,” Bejarano told the magazine. She continued, “It was definitely a hard pill to swallow but the more people told me I couldn’t do it, the more I wanted it. I used that negativity as fuel to push me to where I want to go.”

She did use that negativity to push through and apply to programs for her Ph.D. in conducting and job opportunities to become an assistant conductor.

That was when an opportunity popped up in the city she had always wanted to live in—San Francisco.

Bejarano was offered the job of an assistant conductor for $2,000 a year. After discussing the matter with mentors and friends, she decided to take the job despite the dismal pay and juggled multiple jobs to make ends meet.

“This is my life. This is my career, my passion. No one’s going to take away my right to have the life that I want,” Bejarano told Natalie Morales from ‘The Today Show.’

Bejarano is definitely living the music life she wants.

Aside from being the current music director and conductor for the San Francisco Civic Symphony, she has also been invited to be a guest conductor at concert halls across the country.

She also continues to inspire the LGBTQ+ community in the arts. Although Bejarano told XQsi she had a tough coming out experience of her own, she wants to be a safe haven for others to be included in all areas of music. She has practiced that by being the music Director of VOICES Lesbian Choral Ensemble in Oakland and a guest conductor for the Bay Area RAINBOW Symphony, whose mission is to promote and support LGBTQ+ musicians and composers.

What’s up next for this conductor?

Bejarano wants to crack the glass ceiling of maestros being only men for the largest symphonies in the country. As of now, there is only one female maestra for the top 20 largest symphonies in the U.S.

By continuing to compose a symphony of inclusivity, resilience, and representation in music, we believe she can get there.

READ: Meet The 28-Year-Old Mexican Woman Who Has Just Been Named Best Chef In The World

We Used Snapchat's Baby Filter On These Celebrities And They Suddenly Feel More Relatable

Entertainment

We Used Snapchat’s Baby Filter On These Celebrities And They Suddenly Feel More Relatable

jaimecamil / Instagram

Snap Inc. has created an entirely new facet of entertainment with its face filters, and lately, it’s become a social phenomenon. Celebrities have been toying with its gendered filters, which has sparked all kinds of discussions about true gender fluidity acceptance–off-app.

The baby filter is pure fun and games. Plus, seeing celebrities as babies makes it feel more likely that we would have hung out on the playground as kids. We not only added the filter to our favorite celebrities.

We’re passing out awards for cutest and ugliest baby faces.

@badbunnypr / Instagram

Bad Bunny posted this selfie of himself on Instagram. Haven’t seen a baby with that fly a fade in ever.

Baby Face Cardi B is giving us strong “Alpha Baby Vibes Award Winning Pout.”

@iamcardib / Instagram

I mean… does she look any different to you all? Maybe she is just a sweet, baby-faced person in this land.

The 87-year-old legend Rita Moreno gets the “Try Me, You Dumb Baby” Award.

@theritamoreno / Instagram

Her hand looks freakishly large next to that baby face. We’re intimidated. You’re intimidated. We’re all just hoping she’ll let us pass without incident.

Ricky Martin is just proof that this filter works. Look at that Menudo face.

@rickymartin / Instagram

Baby Ricky has some cool tats and strong selfie game. Tbh, he looks just like he did when he was a kid.

J.Lo wins the “Bratz™ Baby Face” Award.

@jlo / Instagram

They say Latinos are born with a full head of hair. Baby Jenny has a whole ponytail. Get it, girl.

Baby Marc Anthony just won the whole game.

@marcanthony / Instagram

He looks like those babies that already look like old men. You, win, Marc. We really hope your baby photos look like this.

Meanwhile, A-Rod’s ears are granting him rights to “Baby Dumbo Best Lookalike” Award.

@arod / Instagram

Why, Snap? Why wasn’t this addressed in the algorithm? There is nothing wrong with having big ears, brow. You are still loved.

Amara La Negra looking… exactly the same?

@amaralanegra / Instagram

When you already have flawless skin, this filter doesn’t do too much for you. She’s perfection.

Mario Lopez would have been “Most Likely to Prank Your Mom” kid next door.

@mariolopez / Instagram

When you thought a baby face couldn’t get more baby face, and then you baby face filter Mario Lopez. 😂

Baby Gina Rodriguez was always “Too Kool 4 Skool.”

@hereisgina / Instagram

She somehow got her hands on a big ole botellón 21 years too soon. Felicidades, Gina on 100 episodes of Jane the Virgin. That’s telenovela status.

Jaime Cami wins “Most Elegant Baby” award.

@jaimecamil / Instagram

Jane the Virgin‘s production actually used the Snap filter during an episode when Camil’s character, actor Rogelio de la Vega, was trying to adapt to his telenovela’s request for younger actors.

Rosario Dawson winning “Most Relatable Baby” award.

@rosariodawson / Instagram

She’s looking like literally all of us as a child. That classic no makeup natural baby look.

John Leguizamo takes home the trophy for “Baby with the Most Attitude.”

@johnleguizamo / Instagram

He’s looking like a Boss Baby and we’re crying. 🤣😭

Meanwhile, Lupita Nyong’o is nailing the 2nd-grade yearbook vibes.

@lupitanyongo / Instagram

Are you feeling like you could have actually have been friends with all these beautiful celebrities yet? Seeing them as babies makes them equal to the rest of us.

George Lopez wins the Most Disturbing Baby Photo contest of the year.

@georgelopez / Instagram

It’s the firm jaw line mixed with the grey hair, we think. Maybe also the back posture.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made it on the Time cover as a baby twice.

@aoc / Instagram

The congresswoman is the youngest elected member of the House, so we couldn’t resist. She’s still a baby, so the filter doesn’t change much.

Daddy Yankee wore this outfit when he was 2 years old as well.

@daddyyankee / Instagram

Every Latina mom gives their niño precioso a chain and a dad hat as soon as possible in life. Daddy Yankee wearing that look strong into his forties.

Salma Hayek hasn’t aged.

@salmahayek / Instagram

She kind of already looks like this. Maybe we’re all just baby faces wearing makeup at the end of the day.

Benjamin Bratt is like a baby on Christmas morning.

@benjaminbratt / Instagram

And he’s wearing the sweater abuela made him so he’ll never catch a cold again in his life. What a good baby boy.

Javier Bardem wins the “ERROR” message award for this competition.

@bardemantarctica / Instagram

Does not compute. You can’t baby face Bardem.

And Gael García Bernal wins the “Most Serious Baby Face” award.

@gaelgarciab / Instagram

It’s like he’s posing for a modeling gig or something. You’re just a baby, Gael–lighten up!

READ: Snapchat Added A ‘Chavo Del Ocho’ Filter And People Across The Internet Are Happy AF

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