Today we’d like to introduce you to Magdalena Abrego.
Magdalena, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
My study of music began on the clarinet when I was in the fourth grade. Eventually, I decided that the whole band nerd persona wasn’t working for me and that I should play the guitar instead. I find this hilarious now because I’m an even bigger nerd, despite the instrument change. My parents bought me my first electric guitar when I was in middle school. Playing the instrument came very easily to me and I remember flying through method books with ferocious enthusiasm. For many years, music served as a fun hobby while I focused on my academic interests in math and science.
My aspirations to one day become a surgeon were derailed when I discovered jazz in high school and my entire life plan took a left turn. In my experience as a student, I never felt particularly challenged in the classroom. I viewed everything as a problem to be solved and most of the time, I was confident that I could devise a solution. Musical improvisation, on the other hand, felt like my personal Mount Everest. I was certain that the challenge it posed for me could hold my interest for the rest of my life.
I went on to attend Berklee College of Music’s Performance program where I graduated with my Bachelor’s of Music degree in 2015. Since then, I have studied at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and I am currently working on my Master’s of Music degree at New England Conservatory’s Contemporary Improvisation department.
Can you give our readers some background on your art?
Around the time, I picked up the guitar, my father gave me his vinyl record collection. Between his records and my own purchases, I carefully curated a library of psychedelia, hard bop, riot grrrl, and more – all of which have informed my sound on the guitar. Much of the music I create occupies the gray area within genre categorizations as I confront issues of musical tradition. My approach to the guitar centers around the challenge of bending and distorting musical idioms until I arrive at something that feels like my own language. I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to hone my skills as an improviser in a number of settings on a regular basis. In a given week, I perform with a jazz quintet, a free improvisation duo, a big band, and a rock band.
What would you recommend to an artist new to the city, or to art, in terms of meeting and connecting with other artists and creatives?
I have a love/hate relationship with social media platforms, but it has been very helpful in this respect. There have been a number of times when someone has written to me out of the blue on Facebook or Instagram and the unexpected connection led to a gig or teaching opportunity. As my community of collaborators expands, I find myself realizing how important it is to reach out to other artists for support. A tip for my fellow lonely artists: send that message to that person you want to connect with – just do it! The worst that can happen is that your message is met with no response, but the possibility of expanding your network is absolutely worth the risk.
What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
Improvised music is best experienced live. Currently, I maintain an active performance schedule with shows around Boston, New York City, and everywhere in between. My show schedule can be found on my Instagram profile, @m_agdalenaaa. I encourage Boston Voyager readers to support local musicians such as myself by going out to hear live music at a variety of venues and embracing the challenge to explore unfamiliar styles of music.
- Instagram: @m_agdalenaaa
Peter Gannushkin (DOWNTOWNMUSIC.NET)