Musical Heritage Runs Deep for Dr. Placeres

Sep 16, 2022

by FSC Staff

For Dr. Martha Placeres, Ph D., music runs in the family.

Placeres is entering her fourth year as the Director of Orchestra and String Studies at Florida Southern, but she has been in tune with music since she could hold an instrument.

In Puebla, where her family is from, Dr. Placeres’ grandfather was the dean of the Puebla Conservatory of Music for more than 30 years, while her mother has been the Dean of Academics for the conservatory for 30 years.

Dr. Placeres said that most of her family members are basically pro musicians and she has brought that wealth of knowledge and history with her to Florida Southern. All of that knowledge will be on display during the Festival of Fine Arts’ opening performance of the year kicking off Latin Heritage Month, which starts on Sept. 15.

The Hispanic Heritage Celebration Concert will feature the Florida Hispanic String Quartet under Dr. Placeres’ direction at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 19 in the Anne MacGregor Jenkins Recital Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

For Dr. Placeres, it is a chance to showcase the wide variety of Hispanic music and provide a glimpse into her life as a musician.

“It’s important to give a wide array of styles,” Dr. Placeres said. “That’s something we’re doing on the 19th. We’ll have music by Spanish composers in a more classical style, then we’ll move into some folk/popular style (pieces). The idea is to present different styles and different countries. It’s important to know music by Latin American and Hispanic composers have been around for the longest time.”

Dr. Placeres began to play the violin at 7 years old and has more than 30 years of experience with the instrument.

That violin has an interesting story behind it, and is one of Dr. Placeres’ most cherished possessions.

The story is that Dr. Placeres’ mother wanted her to play piano, but the violin was what she was interested in thanks to her uncle. Violins at that time in Mexico were hard to come by and money was scarce, so a group of her uncles got together to go purchase the instrument in Mexico City and delivered the instrument into her hands.

That act began a lifelong passion that continues to play out today. It’s not like Dr. Placeres could avoid the lure of music, not with her family.

“Music runs in my family,” said Dr. Placeres, who came to the United States 22 years ago in an exchange program. “Everyone either plays an instrument professionally or by hobby. I was born hearing music everywhere and I was going to the conservatory at an early age.”

While violin is what stirred Dr. Placeres’ early musical passion, she yearned for an understanding of other instruments as well. Dr. Placeres said she knows a little piano and a bit of all of the string instruments as well.

“As an orchestra conductor, it’s important to know how they work,” she said. “I’ve taken lessons in the flute, oboe and bassoon too. General knowledge of how the instruments work is also important so you can talk to the musicians.”