Maria Fernanda Zapata

Piano Professor at Conservatory of the Catholic University of Asunción; Visiting Professor at the National University of Asunción

Born in Caracas , Venezuela, Zapata is a disciple of Venezuelan Profesors Olga López and Clara Marcano. At the age of four, she began public performances in the most important theaters of her native country, and since the age of six, she has participated in the most important events of piano performance in Venezuela, being awarded with the main prizes and highest honors in major piano competitions in her country; Silvia Eisenstein Competition 1986 (3rd prize), Harriet Serr Competition 1995 (2nd prize), “Romantic Work” Competition at Olga López Music School 1996 (2nd prize), Mention “Joropo” and special prize for laureates of “The Venezuelan Piano” Competition 2004. She debuted as a soloist at the early age of 12 under the baton of Maria Octavia Issa alongside the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Miranda (1994). Since then, she has performed with Venezuela’s most important professional orchestras in festivals such as “Young Venezuelan Values” and the “Five Beethoven Concertos” Tour.

Among her solo performances are the Municipal Symphony Orchestra of Caracas, the Symphony Orchestra of Aragua, the Merida Symphony Orchestra, and the Maracaibo Symphony Orchestra of, performing alongside internationally acclaimed conductors such as Carlos Riazuelo, Eduardo Rahn (┼), Luis Miguel González, and Rodolfo Saglimbeni. In Paraguay, she has been invited by the Schola Cantorum of the Archdiocese of Asunción under the baton of Enrique Alfonso, the Symphony Orchestra of Asunción under the baton of José Miguel Echeverría, the Congressional Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Diego Sanchez Haase, and the chamber ensemble of the National Symphony Orchestra under the baton of José Ariel Ramírez.

In recognition of her contribution to the progress of her country, she was awarded the highest honor, the “José Félix Ribas Order.” Due to her significant level of excellence, she has received numerous scholarships for her musical education. High-level institutions and foundations have sponsored her studies since the age of six; Indiana University Bloomington (Young Pianists Program USA), National Council for Culture (Venezuela), University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (USA study scholarship), Bradley Foundation (USA talent scholarship), Mozarteum Foundation of Caracas (Sponsorships for the International Youth Music Festival Torroellas de Montgrí).

Similarly, and in pursuit of her artistic development, María Fernanda has worked with a wide range of international professors including Abraham Abreu, Walter Blankenheim, Joaquín Achúcarro, Igor Lavrov, Steffan Möller, Robert Schwartz, Guadalupe Parrondo, Germán Marcano, Alessandro Mussuto, María Elena Fernandes, Ferhan Önder, Jeremy Menuhin, David del Pino Klinge, Frederique Vaysse-Knitter, Emanuel Ax, and Roger Muraró.

Throughout her successful career, she has been invited as a pianist, chamber musician, teacher, and lecturer to various Venezuelan and international festivals such as the From Bach to Chick Corea Festival, Chopin Steinway Festival, Liszt Steinway Festival, II Latin American Meeting of Music Educators, Missions for Music, Torroellas de Montgrí International Youth Music Festival,

Vienna International Pianists Academy, IV Piano Perfection Course San Pedro Garza García, and IV and V FADA-UNA International Music Festival. In this way, she has brought her art to the international stage in countries such as the United States, Spain, Austria, Mexico, Argentina, and Paraguay. Her persistent interest in progress and human development through music has made María Fernanda an illustrious teacher and collaborator in prestigious institutions such as the Mennonite Evangelical Center for Theology (Paraguay), Autism Out Loud Foundation, Manuel Alberto López Experimental Music School, National Experimental University of the Arts, and Simón Bolívar University (Venezuela).

Zapata has received the highest honors, diplomas, and distinctions from the institutions where she has trained, including: Degree of Arts in Music with a specialization in Instrumental Performance from the Manuel Alberto López Experimental Music School (2001), “Excellent Academic Achievement as a Sophomore” and the distinction of the “Dean’s List” from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (2002), Compilation of Universities for the awarding of the “National Dean’s List” (2003), Experimental University of Arts in Venezuela: Publication prize of her thesis “Memorization Strategies focused on the Piano” and the Cumlaude Honor Diploma (2008). In 2023, she was selected by the PILA program for professor mobility and exchange program in 2024 in Santa Fe, Argentina.

She has also completed postgraduate courses and diplomas in the educational field at USIL Paraguay University, National University of Asunción, Mac Master University, University of San Diego California, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Stanford University, seeking to deepen learning processes, memorization processes, neurology studies, and teaching strategies applied to music. At the same time, she has conducted research as complementary studies to High- Performance Musician courses in the application of ergonomics and injury prevention in piano study and development.

Currently, she is engaged in significant chamber music work in Paraguay, performing with prominent artists in the music scene. She is a member of the Almao-Zapata Pianistic Duo (with Jesús Almao), regularly invited to multiple ensembles of the National Symphony Orchestra (Paraguay), a regular guest of the Schola Cantorum of Asunción, and has been invited by the Chamber Orchestra of the Municipality of Asunción (Mtro Echeverría). She also directs her private piano teaching studio: Piano Studio Zapata, where the goal is high-quality instrumental teaching, competitiveness, artistic and human development for young ages. She has collaborated with Universities such as the Conservatory of the Catholic University of Asunción, is a piano professor at CEMTA, and is an Accompanying Pianist and Visiting Professor at the National University of Asunción.