University of South Florida

College of The Arts

University of South Florida

Congratulations USF Alum Dr. José Valentino Ruiz on the Latin GRAMMY® Award!

On November 19th, 2020, The Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences [a division of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences] released online their official list of Winners for this year's 21st Annual Latin GRAMMY® Awards. On that list includes Dr. José Valentino Ruiz, a two-time graduate of the University of South Florida, who has been nominated in past years for Best Latin Jazz/Jazz Album ('15), Best Instrumental Album as Producer & Engineer ('16), and served on the winning album for Best Christian Album in Spanish Language as a Recording Engineer and Flutist ('19). This year, Ruiz won for the category of Best Classical Contemporary Composition as a composer/flutist alongside co-composer/pianist and GRAMMY® Award Winner, Carlos Fernando Lopez, for their composition entitled "Sacre." 

2020 List of Nominees and Winners

"Sacre" aims to takes listeners on a sonic journey portraying the human experience; the beauties of cultural diversity, inclusivity, and equity which is (1) musically-observed by the respect, unity, and dialogue between the pianist and flutist, and (2) reflected in the harmonic, rhythmic, and timbral expressivity inspired by the quartal and harmonic traditions of Western European's Impressionism, Afro-Latin American polyrhythmic drumming, and indigenous textural expressions on the flute akin to the Colombian zampoña, Peruvian kena, and Puerto Rican coqui.
Regarding the depiction of the composition, Ruiz says "In just five minutes and twenty-five seconds, we aimed to provide a chronological road map of the human condition evoking the sacredness and inception of birth to a person's emotional uncovering of the world being both breathtakingly-beautiful [hence the breathy flute sound] and turbulent [hence the piano insinuating pain, war, and struggle]. Ultimately, listeners arrive to a halt and an inner destination where they realizes that life well-lived requires for humanity to humble themselves and connect with the Creator [evoked with the rubato drone of "eternity" played by the piano and the vocalizations on flute] to plea for restoration for the world. Through the eye’s and ear’s observance of "what is sacred" such as people's lives, identities, heritage, hopes, and dreams, the person realizes that sacredness is omnipresent and must be preserved, not abolished."
In these unprecedented and tumultuous times, with the manifestation of COVID-19 and the breaking point of racial injustice in the world, Lopez's and Ruiz's "Sacre" serves to provide listeners with a piece of music that tugs at the heart of humanity and compels listeners to re-evaluate their understanding of what is sacred, ultimately, to inspire them to proactively protect the sacredness of what it means to be human, to love, to respect, and to celebrate the vast expressions in our daily lives. 
“Sacre” is originally part of Carlos Fernando Lopez's album, "Lignarius", which is the first release of the label, L Music. Ruiz currently serves as the (1) Inaugural Professor and Head of Music Business & Entrepreneurship at the University of Florida, (2) Global Ambassador for Trevor James Flutes and Saxophones, and (3) Director of Global Arts Entrepreneurship Initiatives at the Diaz Music Institute 501C3. Ruiz earned a B.A. in Music Studies (emphasis in music theory) in 2009 and a Ph.D. in Music Education with cognates in Flute Performance and Applied Lesson Pedagogy (advisor, Dr. Kim McCormick), music production (advisor, Dr. David Williams). His dissertation was advised by Dr. C. Victor Fung. He is also an EMMY® Award winning television composer, producer, and saxophonist.

Information about the GRAMMY® Awards: GRAMMY® Awards are considered the highest award in the music business and one of the four top entertainment awards in the world [with TONY® (Theater), EMMY® (Television), and OSCAR® (Film)]. It is a peer-reviewed competition thousands of voting members evaluate the quality of the artistic, production, and engineering processes recorded-musical works. Latin GRAMMY® Awards are a division of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences dedicated towards the preservation and advancement of Latin American, Afro-Latin American, and Ibero-American musics.