Finding the right note with Diego Angel Espinoza Masias, oboist of MusicaNova Orchestra

MusicaNova Orchestra kicks off its 2021-22 Season at the MIM, with a delightful program, BAROQUE TO THE FUTURE, on September 19 in Phoenix at Featuring some of the more experimental and innovative work of late 17th and early 18th century composers such as Biber, Telemann and Rameau, the concert is for all lovers of music and live performance with this repertoire offering hints of minimalism, jazz and the modern movie soundtrack.

BAROQUE TO THE FUTURE will be performed by the MusicaNova Orchestra, led by Music Director and Conductor Warren Cohen. To find out more we caught up with Phoenix resident and out oboist Diego Angel Espinoza Masias.

What is your earliest memory of loving music?

My family has always liked music, and they have supported us (my siblings and I) whenever we wanted to play an instrument. Since I was a kid, 4 or 5 years old, I have been playing an instrument. I played the recorder at first, then saxophone, flute, clarinet, and now oboe. I remember very clearly the moment I knew I wanted to study music as a career: when I heard the soundtrack of Star Wars Episode I. 

Why is the oboe your instrument of choice?

I guess I could say that it was because I had no other option. Don’t take me wrong, I love playing the oboe, but I ended up playing it because I wanted to study music in some form. When I finished school I knew I wanted to enter the National Conservatory of Music in Peru, and in order to enter you need to already know some music theory and have some ear training. At that time I was playing the saxophone at school and I barely was able to read music, so I studied by myself so as to enter the Conservatory’s preparatory section. I auditioned along with other 30 sax players. I passed the audition round but I did stumble on the theory and ear training round so I didn’t make it. Afterwards though, I was called by the coordinator of that section and he told me I could enter but I had to choose either oboe or bassoon as my main instrument. I chose oboe and the rest is history. I knew about the instrument and its challenges, and I like challenging stuff.  

3. What is the time period / era in music that most fascinates you?

Fascinates… I’d say it’s the contemporary era. I really like performing pieces with electronics, and pieces that require you to do unexpected things. I played a piece a few years ago that had me shout vowel sounds, and inhale and exhale loudly. I also played another pieces that had me turn my back to the audience and pretend to play while the electronic part played oboe sounds. I also like the standard repertoire, but I feel that the oboe need to step out of that box.

What are you specializing in at ASU?

I am currently in my last semester as a Doctor of Musical Arts student in Music Performance.

What was it like growing up in Peru and how accepting is the culture of LGBTQ people?

I’d have to say that growing up in Peru is great. My family is there, and they are very important to me. We are very close, and not only among us siblings, but also among my cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. I am lucky to have my family. 

Peru is a very religious country, and the LGBTQ community have been frowned upon for a long time. We still are by some people, but things are changing, specially in the capital, Lima where I was born. When I was a kid in the '90s I would hear a lot of gay slurs on the TV specially on comedy shows where the gay man was always hyper-feminine and extravagant, and that was seen as really bad and mockable. So I was of course determined to not be gay, and when I started noticing that I liked men I dismissed the idea.

It wasn’t until I fell in love with someone that I realized that this couldn’t be wrong, and that, being raised a catholic, even God wouldn’t say so. I am fortunate to say that I’ve only been called “maricón” once by a random person on the street while I was holding hands with my boyfriend at the time. I say ‘fortunate’ because I know people that have had worse experiences. Homophobia is still real in Peru but it is changing.

What is life like in Arizona as being an out gay man and a classical musician?

I have not found any issues in AZ as a gay man, though I know people who are afraid to even hold hands in public because we are in a conservative state. 

I think that being gay in the arts scene is pretty unremarkable. By that I mean that everyone just accepts you, and they won’t even ask if you don’t disclose it. In the US I have discovered more about myself, and I have had more freedom to be myself. I’ve met more LGBTQ+ people here, and most of them are in the music business in one way or another. A friend and I joke about how almost every male oboist we know is gay.

The pandemic was very hard for many who work in the live arts. How did you use your time?

I was still at school when the pandemic hit, and the sudden disappearance of recitals, concerts, rehearsals, etc… really put me off. I concentrated on finishing my classes, and on passing my juries. I did discover that I am able to mix music quite well. Since everything at school was virtual, even wind ensemble and orchestra were done online, that meant that a lot of us were put into a chamber group, and the each had to record our parts separately and send those to someone to mix them and edit them. I was one of those editors, and I think I did quite a good job. Therefore I invested in some equipment and got to learn more about the recording process. This has proven to be very useful nowadays.

What are you most looking forward to with the MusicaNova Orchestra performance in September?

I can’t wait to get in a room full of musicians and start making music with them. You are able to record each part separately and put it together, but this will never match the subtleties that only live music can have.

The upcoming MusicaNova Orchestra concerts are: 


September 19 at 2 pm
4725 E Mayo Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85050
Tickets: $33/$38

October 24 at 2 pm
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Tickets:  $33, $40, $44

About MusicaNova Orchestra

The MusicaNova Orchestra is a professional ensemble that features new music, unjustly neglected pieces, and fresh interpretations of the classics. We engage, enthuse, and educate through musical partnerships with diverse communities, artists, and students.
We believe in the future of great music, and regularly feature exceptionally talented young performers and brilliant young composers. Through educational outreach, we are dedicated to bringing the joy of playing and hearing great music to many who might not otherwise have the opportunity.

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