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Eclectic world music earns UNT Inspiration Award

Profile image for By Rhiannon Saegert
By Rhiannon Saegert

University of North Texas College of Music doctoral student Daniel Pardo’s band, From a Land Far Away, is reforming to create eclectic world music, starting with a performance at Gilley’s Dallas this week.

The group is reconvening after winning UNT’s 2016 Sherman/Barsanti Inspiration Awards in April. Their prize, a $10,000 award, will go toward the band’s development.

“The plan is to propel the project — that’s the recording of a CD and videos,” Pardo said. “The idea is to play in international festivals and get it going. Of course, like any entrepreneurial effort, it takes money.”

Pardo, who was born in Colombia, began studying flute at 17. Now 35, he writes and performs theatrical, commercial and world music while studying flute performance at UNT.

This is the second year a musician has won the to prize in the UNT Innovation Greenhouse’s Inspiration Awards.

“It’s not just for musicians. It’s for anyone on campus. The competition is for anyone of any discipline, at any level,” Pardo said. “So everyone is welcome to participate, but you need a recommendation from a major professor. A student must demonstrate a creative input outside of the normal curriculum.”

In Pardo’s case, he submitted recordings and video of his band for consideration. Pardo said From a Land Far Away is composed of musicians from around the world, and the group plays world music meant to fuse cultures.

“The percussionist comes from Spain, pipa player Mei Yuxin is from China, and we create music and play concerts here,” Pardo said. “It merges the entrepreneurial side of music with arrangements of new music and performance.”

The Innovation Awards were established by a $350,000 gift from donors Bob and Bette Sherman and is open to students with a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher. Two other finalists — Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science student Anagha Krishnan and English graduate student Chelsea Wagenaar — received cash prizes of $3,000 and $1,000, respectively.

From a Land Far Away will play its reunion concert at 7 p.m. Saturday at Gilley’s South Side Music Hall, 1135 S. Lamar St. in Dallas. Guest violinist Karen Briggs and Dallas vocalist Denise Lee also will perform with the band. The performance is part of the East Dallas Christian Church Concert Series.

Tickets cost $25 for the concert; $50 for the concert and a three-hour drink ticket; or $75 for the concert, a 6 p.m. dinner and drinks.

Pardo said the next step will be to use the award money to promote the band.

“There also will be a CD release featuring UNT alumnus Jeff Coffin, from Dave Matthews Band and Bela Fleck and the Flecktones,” Pardo said. “After our reunion concert, I would like to orchestrate our music to perform with orchestras and big bands, to continue the discovery of artistic possibilities and reach wider audiences.”

RHIANNON SAEGERT can be reached at 940-566-6897 and via Twitter at @missmusetta.