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El Paso Pro-Musica: A fuse of education and world-renowned performance

Gaby Velasquez

El Paso is no Vienna, but El Paso Pro-Musica (EPPM), a local non-profit organization, strives to do its best impression of the City of Music.

EPPM aims to educate El Pasoans through annual concert seasons of chamber music, bringing world-renowned artists to the Borderland and provides El Pasoans with the luxury of world-class musical recitals.

“Our true mission is to help make music accessible to all,” said Felipa Solis El Paso Pro-Musica executive director. “So, our doors are open here at the UTEP campus. Students come in, we try to find them opportunities to play for other people and to showcase what they do and how they do it and reach their goals.”

The organization aids students while simultaneously raising money and awareness with respect to their concert season. EPPM has featured artists like Itzhak Perlman and Wynton Marsalis, just a couple out of many world-renowned artists.

All artists EPPM brings to the region are teachers and educators, including the organization’s artistic director Zuill Bailey, who is a professor of cello and teaches graduate students at UTEP. It’s students like Bailey’s that EPPM tries to reach out to. Last year the organization established the Center for Arts Entrepreneurship at UTEP, which is designed to guide students into careers and music in the 21st century.

“We’re starting to work with a lot of kids in lot of different departments to excite them, guide them and give them inspiration. And give them opportunities to explore and to do what they want to do as artists,” Solis said.

Ivana Biliskov, 22, is a graduate student from a small Croatian town who came to study with Baileyher love for the cello drives her passion in music, and is also involved with EEPM events.

“El Paso Pro-Musica gives, especially graduate students, so many performance opportunities to build ourselves to be professional musicians, it’s very important to perform a lot,” Biliskov said. “It’s not just that, it’s all the outreach we do at hospitals, at schools. You really form a big connection to the people you play to and that’s what music is about.”

The fact that EPPM exposes the region to excellent artists from around the world, helps Biliskov learn more on how to approach music in a different way. Along with that, giving performances to the public is a reason for which Biliskov feels that getting involved with EPPM is a god thing for anyone majoring or involved in music.

“One of my personal favorite things we did was we went to the hospital on Halloween and we played for children who couldn’t be outside, who couldn’t go trick or treating, “Biliskov said. “The way they reacted, and the smiles on their faces is a great gift to the community and it’s a great gift to yourself.”

Students of all career types are encouraged to participate in EPPM and become involved. Another EPPM philosophy is music is for everyone, whether it be an engineering major, nursing major or a business major, if one loves music there can always be a balance for both passion and work.

In 2019, the organization will host its annual Chamber Music Festival, which will run from Jan. 10 to Feb. 2. El Paso Pro-Musica collaborates with the El Paso Museum of Art to present “Bach’s Lunch”, a free concert every Thursday noon during the festival. The festival, in accordance with Pro-Musica’s goal of bringing international talent to the region, also seeks that the fine artists not only perform but engage with students in the classroom as well.

For more information on upcoming events, such as the Emerson String Quartet performance Nov. 29, visit

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Gaby Velasquez, Photo editor
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El Paso Pro-Musica: A fuse of education and world-renowned performance