Class of 2023: College of Musical Arts graduate connects cultures with music
Martha Hudson uses study of the oboe to explore Latin American culture
Born into a family of musicians, Martha Hudson Pestana always figured she also would go into music herself one day.
A native of Zacatecas in central Mexico, Hudson primarily played piano throughout her childhood until she took her first oboe lesson at age 15 — at which point she knew she had found her instrument.
“My mom is an orchestra conductor in Zacatecas, but they didn’t have oboes in their orchestra,” she explained. “But a new teacher arrived at my school, and my mom said, ‘By the way, you’re going to start oboe too.’
“I liked it from my very first lesson. I decided right away that was the instrument that I wanted to play.”
Years later, Hudson will graduate from Bowling Green State University College of Musical Arts with a Master of Music Performance on the instrumental performance track for the oboe. After graduation, she plans to continue at BGSU to pursue a Doctor of Musical Arts in Contemporary Music.
Already an accomplished musician at a young age, Hudson was awarded a federal grant sponsored by the Mexican National Council of Science and Technology and the Secretary of Culture for her graduate studies at BGSU, and also was recently honored by Afromexart, a Mexican foundation that recognizes young arts leaders.
After completing her undergraduate studies at Autonomous University of Zacatecas, Hudson made the long journey to BGSU, which she said has been a formative experience to continue her growth as a musician.
“I felt very welcomed,” she said. “I am from another culture and I speak another language, but I felt very much part of the CMA community and very welcomed. Everybody was kind, so that was an easy transition for me. All my friends, colleagues and classmates were very kind to me.”
The daughter of a viola player and a flute player, Hudson clicked with the oboe, an art through which she further explored Latin American culture as a graduate student.
While BGSU had a profound impact on Hudson, her presence also benefited faculty and her fellow students, said Dwight Parry, an assistant professor of oboe at the University.
“Martha clearly has a gift, but more importantly, she has the drive and work ethic needed to achieve her goals as a musician,” Parry said. “She actively explores the technical and expressive capabilities of the oboe while promoting Afro-Mexican and Caribbean artists. I'm humbled to say that she has introduced me to composers and approaches that expand me as a teacher.”
As a doctoral student, Hudson hopes to explore ways to improve access to instruments and reed-making supplies in Latin America in addition to featuring Latin composers as a way of studying the impact of music on culture.
During her graduate studies, Hudson said she was surprised to find Latin influence throughout the United States.
“I started looking for Mexican composers in the oboe, and what really impressed me is that the Latin community is very present in the United States in general,” she said. “That inspires me to connect with Latin American culture and relate it with music. Now that I’m starting a CMA program in contemporary music, I want to showcase Latin American composers and maybe commission pieces for the oboe because there aren’t many.”
Hudson said she hopes to both perform and teach professionally, which she called “the happy life of a musician.” As a graduate assistant, Hudson aided undergraduate students and showed a gift for teaching as well, Parry said.
“Martha goes above and beyond in her role as graduate assistant in the BGSU oboe studio,” Parry said. “She is exceptionally generous with time spent coaching others, providing reeds for the freshmen, teaching technique class and generally being collaborative, constructive and available as a colleague.”
After graduation, Hudson said she hopes to use her art to continue making connections across cultures.
“I think we are all connected, and I think something very important for us as musicians is to make connections,” she said. “I think those connections are what makes music international.”
Updated: 04/27/2023 09:27AM