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UCR Graduate Wins Arts Scholarship

Foundation Offers UC Riverside Alum Chance to Achieve Musical Dream

Redlands Composer, Conductor, Teacher to Attend Eastman School of Music

(November 4, 2005)

Daniel Gil-Marca

Daniel Gil-Marca

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( -- UC Riverside 2004 graduate Daniel Gil-Marca is one of 10 artists chosen this year to receive Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholarships totaling up to $300,000 each.

Gil-Marca, 28, of Redlands, a composer, conductor and music teacher, said his goal is to parlay his award into doctorates in composition and conducting from the prestigious Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester in New York, then bring his East Coast expertise back to the West -- specifically, back to the Inland Empire -- to shape a classically credible movement that will span musical genres and cultural divisions.

“I’ve always said I want to give back to the community where I grew up, and now that I have this wonderful opportunity I mean it even more, if possible,” Gil-Marca said. “This scholarship is definitely Heaven-sent. It came along at just the right time in my life.”

Gil-Marca directs a chamber orchestra, a string quartet, two choirs and a vocal octet at Redlands Academy, where he also teaches history part-time. He is married to Alicia Diaz Gil, who performed as a concert pianist in her native Spain. The couple have two children, Sofia, 2, and Alexander, 1 month.
Gil-Marca said his life “has been held together by the elastic bonds of family, tradition, and a story of perseverance.” He plans to persevere until he is an innovative and noteworthy composer with an opportunity to teach university-level composition. Along the way, Gil-Marca, said, he intends to develop both a production company focusing on young classical composers and the first conservatory of music in Redlands.

Gil-Marca’s “dedication to his art has been at times breathtaking,” said Renee Coulombe, an assistant professor of music theory and composition at UC Riverside. “He is always ready to risk, to fail, and ultimately to conquer in his artistic pursuits.”

In the case of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholarship, Gil-Marca said, “conquering” meant getting UC Riverside faculty to nominate him for the prize, and coming out ahead of some 1,200 applicants from all over the country.
“UC Riverside has been behind me all the way,” Gil-Marca said.

Also supporting him -- in an artistic sense -- is the traditional music of Bolivian Indians and Mexican immigrants that has accompanied the lives of five generations of his family, plus the classical music and cool jazz to which he was drawn as a child.

Gil-Marca has composed orchestral and choral pieces and chamber music, and often mixes musical styles. One example of that is an improvisational piece for four hip hop turntables and piano called Black Panda/White Panda. His first commission, from the Cesar Chavez Foundation and Americorps, put him to work with inner-city youth to create a musical, East Side Story, presented in Los Angeles and Orlando.

“I am, above all, an American composer,” he said. “That’s what defines me -- and I want to use everything that goes into making American music, even if it means putting in a turntable or two.”

Gil-Marca and his family leave for Rochester next month. He thinks it will take him five years to complete the master’s degrees and doctorates he wants. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation will pay him up to $50,000 per year for his schooling, plus a living stipend.

Although Jack Kent Cooke -- who owned the three-time Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins -- found fame and fortune in professional sports, the arts were always a passion of his. He was a collector of art, a musician and composer, and even led a big band in Canada, where he was born and raised. He died in 1997, and since 2001 his legacy, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, has been carrying out his will by offering some of the largest competitive arts scholarships available in the United States.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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