Mercedes Otero was born in Caracas, Venezuela. She studied in her home country, in England, Italy and the United States. As a classical guitarist, she studied with Gilbert Biberian and John Duarte in London. Afterwards, she moved to Italy for a short time to enroll in the Instituto Viotti, Vercelli, to study with Angelo Gilardino and Giuseppe Rosetta. Back to Venezuela, she studied Choral Conducting in the Choral Conductors’ School of Caracas, and composition with Hector Tossar. She undertook graduate studies at the California State University, Northridge, where she studied with Aurelio de la Vega and Daniel Kessner, and was awarded a Master’s Degree with Distinction.
I was born in Caracas, Venezuela, in a family of artists. My mom, Mercedes Pardo, was a painter, and my dad, Alejandro Otero, was mainly a sculptor. I had the privilege of growing up in a very motivating cultural ambiance. Many artists from all fields gathered regularly at our home: musicians, painters, sculptors, writers, philosophers, playwrights, dancers, actors, composers, performers, poets, etc. My parents collaborated many times with stage productions and costume designs for ballet, theater, and dance. Music was a main course in our everyday life, all sorts of music, from contemporary to classical, folk, traditional, popular, even rock and so forth.
I began my musical career as a classical guitarist. Later on, I focused on choral conducting and composition. My studies took me from my home country to Great Britain, Italy, and the United States. I founded and conducted several choirs for different ages: children, teenagers, and adults. As a composer, I have participated in Contemporary Music Festivals in Venezuela, Mexico, and the United States. My music has been used as sound tracks for documentary films about art.
I consider myself an educator, not only because I have taught quite a lot, but because I love it and it is in my nature. I founded a school for children from 3 years of age to teenagers and adults, were I tried to reproduce my own educational experience, exploring at once different artistic languages: painting, modelling, music, acting; it was all about feeling, thinking, perceiving, and expressing. It was wonderful.
I have played different roles as a cultural manager: I was the President of one of the main orchestras in Caracas; President of a municipal institution in charge of the maintenance, recovery, and restoring of the constructed heritage of the City of Caracas. There, I founded another school to teach how to restore houses from colonial times, built with mud and wood, with very old, traditional techniques. Some years later, I was appointed vice-Dean of the Venezuelan University of the Arts, and Director of its Music Department. Nowadays, I run the Otero-Pardo Foundation, a research center based on documents related to the artistic development in Venezuela, Latin America and beyond, during the second half of the XXth Century. The Foundation, educational in nature, honors the artistic and documentary legacy of Alejandro Otero, Mercedes Pardo, and their contemporaries: a collection started in the early 40’s, consisting of letters, news-paper clips, photography, films, catalogues, art books, art magazines, etc.