Diego Gabete-Rodriguez '16
“I was looking at them and they were looking at me and we were doing this together. It was a really special connection.”
Playing soccer or playing the violin. For WVU student Diego Gabete-Rodriguez, the choice between the two was not an easy one. But his early decision to pursue a music education has resulted in many successes thanks to hard work and the support of many.
Growing up in Zaragoza, Spain, Gabete-Rodriguez did not come from a classical music background. His father was into rock ‘n’ roll and his family never cared for the classics. Gabete-Rodriguez himself preferred playing soccer with his friends than practicing a musical instrument. It wasn’t until a teacher noticed that he had some attention issues that it was suggested he try playing the violin.
“At the very beginning, I remember that I really didn’t like it,” Gabete-Rodriguez recalls. “When I first started playing, I was told to use a method where I practiced a lot at home. Since my parents had no musical background, I would go to class once a week, but wouldn’t know how to practice once I got home.”
Playing music became easier when he joined a small children’s symphony at the age of nine. Soon, he wasn’t just going to see his friends, but rather to enjoy the creation of music with people he cared about.
“We started developing this relationship where we were creating music together,” Gabete-Rodriguez said. “I was looking at them and they were looking at me and we were doing this together. It was a really special connection.”
After breaking his wrist for a second time while playing soccer, he had to choose between the sport and his musical career. He chose music.
Gabete-Rodriguez went on to play violin for the Spanish Youth Orchestra as well as the European Union Youth Orchestra. At age 15, he attended the Musikene-Centro Superior de Musica del Pais Vasco, a music conservatory in Spain.
After getting his first bachelor’s degree in Spain, he attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, UK, where he received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in violin performance and orchestral training. There, he learned from some of the best classical musicians in the world and created a tango assembly to help pay for school.
Today, Gabete-Rodriguez is a fulltime doctoral student, teaching assistant, and concertmaster for the WVU Symphony Orchestra.
Though his graduate assistantship covers his tuition, it is because of the Canady Scholarship that Gabete-Rodriguez is able to go above and beyond, participating in national competitions and making trips to Spain to perform for the Argentinian Consulate.
Similar Gabete-Rodriguez, Valerie Canady was dedicated to the arts and was an artist in a variety of mediums, though her favorite was the piano. A Morgantown native and WVU summa cum laude graduate, Canady died in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in 1988. Her parents, Loulie and William Canady, established the scholarship in memory of their daughter.
The extra financial help provided by the Canady Scholarship allowed Gabete-Rodriguez to represent the state of West Virginia in Chicago for the Music Teacher National Association National Competition in March 2014, after having won the Young Artist Performance in the MTNA Eastern Division competition.
The graduate assistantship has also given him priceless experiences, inspiring him to continue teaching after he finishes his doctoral program.
“The graduate teaching opportunity here is such a great experience, I couldn’t have passed it up,” Gabete-Rodriguez said. “I was always teaching to pay my way through school, but I never realized it was something I really liked. Once I got this opportunity, though, I realized it would be really great to teach kids and inspire them.”