Senior spotlight: Tiffany Cuaresma finds harmony at Rice

Photo courtesy Tiffany Cuaresma

By Ariana Moshiri 09/13/22 11:45 PM

Few of Rice’s current students can say they’ve walked red carpets. For Tiffany Cuaresma, however, the red carpets are just another day in her songwriting life.

Cuaresma, a Baker College senior, said she had always been naturally musically oriented. Cuaresma said she grew up playing the piano and being part of her school choir, band and orchestra – she even started working as a film score composer in high school. As a competitive figure skater, she said she became familiar with different types of music and choreography. According to Cuaresma, this inspired her to combine her two passions and explore choreographic music, leading her to musical composition, which she is now studying at the Shepherd School of Music.

“I mainly worked as a film score composer and just focused on classical stuff,” Cuaresma said. “I did pop singing for friends when I was enrolled, but I was so busy with school that I [decided to] just working on the classic [composition]. But then I went to my first electronic music festival and it really changed my life. I knew from then on that I wanted to explore new sound and creative universes.

From then on, Cuaresma immersed herself in the electronic dance music industry as a singer, singer-songwriter and music producer, while continuing her work as a film score composer and songwriter. of concerts.

“Now I feel like my day job is a film score composer and my night job is like a DJ/EDM [artist]“said Cuaresma. “I have like two different personalities, I would say – things I use for my classic stuff and things I use more for my pop artist stuff.”

Cuaresma said she composed “Kingdom of Your Own” for the Burbank International Film Festival, an independent film which she says launched her career.

“It was the first time I had seen one of the movies I had scored in a real AMC theater,” Cuaresma said. “And I was screaming because it was just a dream come true.”

Cuaresma said walking down a red carpet and seeing her songwriting role credited on the big screen was a key moment in her life. But the highlight of working on this particular project was collaborating with the rest of the film crew, with whom she became close friends.

“What I really found inspiring was [that] we were all from different backgrounds and different races, ethnicities, religions… and we all came together to form this masterpiece. It really shows how art transcends those boundaries,” Cuaresma said. “It’s my greatest moment in life – creating art that helps resonate with others and brings people together.”

A resident of San Diego, Cuaresma said she plans to return to California where she has musical projects in mind. She said she has a commission with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra next year, upcoming film projects, labels she’s tapping into, and many other productions she’s busy working on.

While she’ll be working music full-time in Los Angeles and San Diego, Cuaresma said she wants to get a master’s degree eventually.

“I want to see where my music career takes me right now. I hope that later, if I do a master’s degree, it will be in business,” Cuaresma said. “I want to transition into a talent agency or work in the entertainment music industry.”

Now, in her final semester at Rice, Cuaresma, who said she would graduate in early December, is reflecting on her time here. Although she is sad that the pandemic has wiped out almost half of her university education, she said she felt blessed to have met lifelong friends here.

“[Being a senior] is really surreal to me because I took a gap semester last year to focus on mental health and [now] I’m graduating early, so it was really quick,” Cuaresma said. “I really only had one real semester on this campus, but my freshman year was transformative and I met a lot of people, so I’m [grateful].”

Cuaresma offered some advice to his Rice peers.

“Know that it’s good to take breaks,” Cuaresma said. “Prioritize your health, especially your mental health. I know it’s scary sometimes, and we all have impostor syndrome, but you’re doing just fine. And the fact that you are in this school and there is a place, a purpose and a plan for you is enough. Do not abandon.

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