Luis Anselmi strives to bring the sounds of Venezuela to a global audience

Up-and-coming artist Luis Anselmi has had a busy year.

The 27-year-old Venezuelan musician based in Toronto has performed recitals with Humber College and the Hilario Durán Latin Jazz Big Band, booked gigs at clubs and festivals with various artists throughout the Toronto area, and participated in several recording sessions, including the production of his own first EP as a bandleader (due next year).

Meanwhile, Anselmi also received his seventh consecutive scholarship from the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation while supporting the charity’s initiatives as a performer and panelist.

These are just the latest accomplishments for a young artist who has constantly displayed his dedication to bringing the sounds of Venezuelan cuatro to broader audiences. Among his many projects incorporating jazz and world music, Anselmi has co-founded both the Latin group Cayiao and the world fusion ensemble The Alkebulan Sound. He also hopes to one day create the first Berklee Global Partner school in Venezuela.

Throughout his career, Anselmi has studied and performed with Hilario Durán, Edward Ramirez, Daniela Padrón, Gerry Weil, Ricardo Cepeda, Kristhyan Benitez and more.

We asked Anselmi, a participant in our Jazzology program, to tell us more about his influences and his latest projects.

Tell us more about your experience with the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation. How did you get involved? How meaningful has that been for your music career?

The Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation is hands-down the most supportive and caring institution for Latin music artists around the world. I first heard of the foundation back in 2016 when I was looking for opportunities to study music aboard, and since then I’ve been very fortunate to apply and receive their tuition assistance scholarship for seven consecutive years. This has allowed me to move to Canada for a music performance diploma at Holland College and a bachelor of music degree at Humber College, where I’ve had and continue to have countless experiences. There is a turning point in my life and the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation is at the heart of it, supporting me and thousands of other musicians.

You’ve been part of a number of performances and recording sessions over the last few months. How does it feel to have that momentum?

I feel very grateful. I know that all opportunities in life are unique and that being able to do what I love and learn from other artists in my community is a privilege. Coming from Venezuela and the challenging political, social and economic situation, I’m grateful for the freedom that Canada offers in welcoming my culture and embracing our fusion.

You’re planning a debut EP later this year. What can you tell us about that project so far?

Absolutely! As part of my fourth year at Humber College we are offered the opportunity to record and produce our very own EP with state-of-the-art equipment and professional support. I’m planning to bring a variety of originals that highlight my artistry as a Venezuelan cuatro performer, pianist and singer-songwriter. People can expect styles ranging from Latin pop to instrumental jazz and rock, and I’m very excited to share this with you in the second half of 2023.

What artists have been most influential to you?

Growing up I listened to a lot of Rubén Blades, Gilberto Santa Rosa, and Juan Luis Guerra because they are some of my parents’ favourites. Coupled with a plethora of Venezuelan popular music, this sowed my interest for Latin Music. Then my exploration continued, and I fell in love with Jorge Drexler for his songwriting craft, C4 Trio for their fusion of traditional with contemporary music, Gerry Weil for his musicianship, and Jacob Collier for his creativity, to name a few.

How was your experience with the Jazzology program? How did the program help with your personal and professional development?

After a couple of listeners messaged me for the first time, the Jazzology program proved to be a great opportunity to reach new audiences. It also connected me with the amazing team at JAZZ.FM91 for more opportunities like this one to share a little bit of my story and current projects.

Why is music education important to you?

Through my education I’ve found that it’s equally important to learn concepts and theory as well as to let them go. That’s why I think that we must find a balance between following our mind and following our instincts. However, I do think that music education is important because it has helped me to communicate with other colleagues trough a common musical language, acquire a technique that allows me to perform and express my ideas, explore different approaches to music, and learn all the rules in order to decide when to break them.

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In terms of your music career, where would you like to be years down the road?

I would like to establish the first musical institution in Venezuela that has a study agreement with Berklee College of Music and other global universities. I want to build this opportunity for the great musicians of my country and the new generations. Additionally, I would like to work with the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation in the promotion and execution of its scholarship, research and education programs. Finally, I hope to continue performing, composing and producing music, and to be able to be a source of education and inspiration for other musicians who wish to be nurtured by Latin American musical culture.

You can follow Luis Anselmi on FacebookInstagram and YouTube.