This Land/Our Land: Chatting with 11-year-old pianist, Oscar Paz-Suaznabar

This interview is part of This Land/Our Land, a music video project bringing together six young musicians from immigrant backgrounds to perform a new arrangement of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land.” The arrangement is by From the Top host Christopher O’Riley. Watch the video here.

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…I am the first person in my entire family born in the United States.

Oscar Paz-Suaznabar at the Statue of Liberty

Oscar Paz-Suaznabar‘s parents immigrated to the US from Guatemala and Bolivia. We talked to Oscar while filming This Land/Our Land in New York City. The responses below are edited for clarity.

When and how did your parents come to America? 

My dad came here because his mom told him that this place is great, that it is amazing, that you have great opportunities, you can do anything here, and so, he decided to move here. My mom, she came here thinking that she would get a new life. And she did: she got a pretty good job, she was taking care of my sisters, and then she got married to my dad, and then…I came.

Do you know what their first jobs were, when they moved here?

My dad, when he first came to the United States, he was working at California Tortilla, and a few years later, he moved next door to a place called The Boston Bakery. And now, he is working at a place in D.C. called Carmine’s. It’s a really good restaurant. My mom, when she first came to the United States, she worked as a janitor for a circus.

Have you thought about how amazing it is that your parents moved to a new country? 

I didn’t really think about that over the years, but now that you mention it, I’m actually really happy that they moved here. Because I am the first person in my entire family born in the United States.

Why do you think projects like this are important? 

I think that musical collaborations are important so people can listen to all the different types of wonderful anthems of different styles/countries. Also to hear how the people of that country interpret their national anthem. 

Hear Oscar play Haydn and talk about his love of poker and comic books on From the Top Show 296.




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