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Rising Stars: Meet Mateo Suarez Serna

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mateo Suarez Serna.

Hi Mateo, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I was born in Bogota/Colombia, my mother and grandfather were always exposed to music but never pursued it. I started my musical career at a very young age, when I was 4 I started with the drums and at the age of 7, I started playing piano and singing. When I was 10 I was introduced to Berklee College of Music and since then I knew that that’s where I wanted to study. When I graduated from high school I went to one of the Berklee Global Partners “Emmat” in Colombia. It was a pretty rough time in my life because I was really young and I wanted to live life. I auditioned for Berklee in 2017 for the first time and I can confidently say that I was all over the place that year. I got in but I didn’t get any scholarship which made the dream almost impossible. When I saw my peers that were more motivated and focused than me get scholarships that’s when I decided to move to Miami all by myself and follow my dream. I got to Miami in January 2019 and studied at Miami Dade College “Kendall Campus” and that’s where my life completely changed. I got into jazz and really got focused on the things I wanted to do. I re-applied to Berklee and I got a 60% scholarship which made my dream come true. Here in the USA I’ve been part of different Vocal Jazz groups and had the chance to perform in different venues. Some of the ones I feel proud of the most are Dayme from Cuba I got to be one of the lead singers of the concert and also part of her Back Ground Vocals. Tony Succar I was one of the arrangers of the concert and also a lead singer. Here at Berklee, I’m double Majoring in Jazz Composition and Contemporary writing and production, with a minor in Theory of Jazz, and a specialization in Music for Television.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It has not. Just the fact that I had to leave my home country and leave my parents behind was really tough. My mom has a lot of health complications so leaving them was a complicated call to make but they supported me. The financial situation was also a problem but thanks to a lot of help that I have received from the colleges I’m one year away from making it.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
Im a Singer/Pianist/Composer/Arranger. I am part of a vocal jazz group called PoD “Point Of Departure” At Berklee Which is where I’m at right now. I’m known for my arrangers and my compositions. I have done arrangements for a few concerts at Berklee and have performed with different artists such as Dayme and Tony Succar and also performed at the New School as part of the choir that was put together for Eric Whitacre.

Are there any books, apps, podcasts or blogs that help you do your best?
I like to listen to a lot of music and meditate with it. Listening to Jazz in the morning while having breakfast helps me stay sane

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