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Natural Awakenings Tucson

Meet Virtuoso Violinist Jesus Alva

Sep 30, 2023 11:00AM ● By Suzie Agrillo
Jesus Alva

Jesus Alva

One of Tucson’s most promising musicians, Jesus Alva is a music prodigy with a personality as big as a weather front.
He began taking violin lessons when he was five years old. His innate talent led to his acceptance at age 10 to the National University of Music in Lima, Peru. He worked for the National Symphony in Lima until he moved to Tucson when he was 29. He has participated in various international festivals and has even performed at Carnegie Hall.
When Alva came to Tucson, he knew he was ready to spread his wings and fly. He started his own business offering live music for weddings and other events. This virtuoso provides a mellifluous, romantic and memorable performance that will enhance the ambiance of any celebration.
Alva also plays weekly for Tucson Medical Center’s Healing Art Program. In addition to performing, Alva teaches lessons to private students at Allegro School of Music, and he inspires a younger generation by providing lessons to students without resources at Tucson Youth Music.

Where did you grow up and when did you start playing the violin?
I was born and raised in Lima, Peru. I started playing violin when I was five years old, however I actually started music lessons with the flute when I was three. I come from a musical family. My aunt was a professional musician in the National Symphony and a university professor. She is retired now, but she was my role model.

What other instructors inspired you?
I had a violin teacher who was a colleague of my aunt, Manuel Bravo. I took lessons from him for five years. He prepared me for my audition to the conservatory, where I started professional training at age 10. Another inspirational influence was Professor Frank Arias, who was my instructor and mentor my entire professional career in the National Conservatory of Music.

Why is the violin considered the hardest instrument to play?
One of the reasons is that unlike with a piano, where you can put a finger down and it creates a nice sound, there are no guides on the violin for finger movement. We use coordination of the fingers and the pressure of the bow on the strings to make a resonant tone.

When did you move to Tucson?
In 2019, when I was 29 years old. I left everything in Peru, including my job at the National Symphony. It wasn’t related to music; it was a love story. I met a woman in Peru who was from Arizona. We fell in love and got married with good intentions, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out. I’m incredibly grateful that I ended up here, and that I have my business performing and teaching.

How did you get your business started when you moved here?
I started my business from scratch, and I didn’t expect that it would grow so exponentially. I moved here right before the pandemic, and I had to work as a cashier/clerk at a store. When I initially began playing violin as a business, I would make small fees performing at family events, and I would also play at restaurants for free just for the exposure.
I knew I was good at what I did. I decided to advertise, so I filmed myself at events and made some promotional videos for weddings. I’m extremely fortunate because I don’t have much competition, and I’ve attained a level of recognition, popularity and success. The calls to book me have skyrocketed, and I don’t need to advertise.

What do you like most about performing at weddings?
I like playing for people. The venues are ideal and create a space and environment to share my music. I enjoy dressing up for performances, wearing a black suit. What sets me apart from other performers is that I am very professional in terms of dress, punctuality and thoughtfulness. Clients really appreciate me for making the best day of their lives a memorable occasion. I will learn new songs and do special romantic music for the bride and groom that they will remember for the rest of their lives.

What is your role at Tucson Medical Center (TMC)?
TMC has a Healing Art Program. My boss, the director of the program, heard me playing at an event and she liked how I played multiple genres of music. She contacted me and hired me to play every week for four hours. I play classical music in the lobby, Chopin, Vivaldi, Mozart, and I also play for the patients. I enjoy seeing the smiles on their faces while I play. I have been through tough times myself. I am grateful that I can use my talent to ease someone else’s suffering.

Please describe yourself in five words.
Caring, disciplined, ambitious, sensitive, and mellow.

When you’re not rehearsing or performing, what do you like to do?
I have a lot of energy. My hobbies are working out at the gym, hiking and playing soccer. I also like to plan romantic date nights with my new girlfriend.

Where do you teach violin?
I give private lessons to over 20 students at Allegro School of Music. I also teach at Tucson Youth Music, which is a nonprofit music education program offering free lessons to underserved Tucson students.

Do you have a favorite quote related to music?
“To play a wrong note is insignificant. To play without passion is inexcusable.” ~ Ludwig van Beethoven

Connect with Jesus Alva at 520-288-1274 or [email protected].

Suzie Agrillo is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings Magazine. She focuses on writing about the arts, inspirational people and the human connection. Connect at [email protected].