Headshot of Lorenzo F Candelaria

Dean Lorenzo Candelaria joined Vanderbilt University in 2020 with a mission to focus on the professional education of highly talented young musicians who demonstrate an exceptional capacity and motivation to shape our increasingly diverse and complex global century — through the arts, with the arts, and in the arts.

A native of El Paso, Texas, Candelaria is a first-generation, Mexican American college graduate. Following a year of study with the celebrated Russian violinist Victor Danchenko at the Cleveland Institute of Music, he completed his undergraduate degree in musicology at the Oberlin Conservatory where he also studied violin, viola, and the Chinese erhu (a two-stringed folk fiddle).

He received his Ph.D. in musicology with highest honors from Yale University, specializing in Renaissance music while pursuing a performance career with groups that included Walt Disney World’s Mariachi Cobre and the Grammy-nominated Mariachi Sol de México. With the generous support of a Fulbright fellowship, he conducted nearly two years of groundbreaking archival research on Catholic plainchant and liturgy in Spain.

Candelaria has held professorships at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and at the University of Texas at Austin, where he received tenure and served for 12 years on the musicology faculty.

He later served as an Associate Provost at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), a Hispanic-Serving Institution of 25,000 students that earned national distinction for its bold and inspiring mission of access and excellence” in a severely under-resourced community along the U.S.-Mexico border.

As Dean of the School of the Arts at SUNY Purchase, a leading public conservatory in Music and Dance as well as in the Visual and Theatrical Arts, Candelaria created Pathways to Purchase,” an exciting campaign of upward social mobility that focused on recruiting, retaining and graduating first-generation college students through thematic arts-and-humanities programming.

A recipient of the American Musicological Society’s prestigious Robert M. Stevenson Prize for outstanding scholarship on the music of Spain and Mexico, Candelaria is an award-winning author, teacher, and widely engaged speaker on topics ranging from plainchant to mariachi music to arts education and the 21st-century student demographic. Recent books include The Rosary Cantoral, American Music: A Panorama, and Listening to Music, ninth edition (forthcoming). He is currently writing Music in Early Mexican Catholicism (under contract with Boydell & Brewer).

Candelaria is a former trustee and Vice President for Community Engagement and Education with the El Paso Symphony Orchestra. He currently serves on the board of directors of the League of American Orchestras (New York City) and the PostClassical Ensemble (Washington, D.C.). In 2019, he accepted a presidential nomination to the National Council on the Humanities for a term expiring in 2024.