Graduate from Paraguay comes full circle to conduct SEK Symphony

As a child growing up in Paraguay, Ramiro Miranda played in a youth orchestra directed by the visiting conductor of the Southeast Kansas symphony — an ensemble based at Pitt State and comprised of students, staff, faculty, alumni, and community members. As an adult, he’s come full circle: he’s been chosen as the symphony's new conductor.  

The symphony was started in 1915 by Walter McCray, the man for whom the music building at Pitt State is named. Miranda replaces its most recent conductor, Raul Munguia, who also taught violin and viola in the Department of Music for the past 11 years. 

In his childhood, Miranda dreamed of becoming a performer. It made sense to for him to study music at Pitt State. 

“Paraguay and Kansas have had a rich history of collaboration in education, business, music, and agriculture for more than 50 years, and Pitt State is the university with the most prolific partnership,” he said. 

He earned his bachelor’s of Music in violin performance at Pitt State in 2011, having studied with and learned from notable faculty such as Selim Giray, Paul Carlson, and Carolann Martin — the conductor he played for as a child in Paraguay.  

“Many Paraguayan music students, myself included, have had the amazing opportunity to study at PSU and gone on to great careers in the United States, back home in Paraguay, and even around the world,” Miranda said.  

He has performed as a soloist and in ensembles in Latin America and China, is a frequent guest conductor in Kansas City, and has shared the stage with internationally acclaimed classical guitarist Berta Rojas. 

But he also was drawn to education. 

“I've always lived in both the performance and teaching world, thanks to my father, who taught music and conducted orchestras and choirs, and instilled the love for continuous learning," he said. “Conductors, whether they want it or not, are teachers. We cannot make a sound without the combined forces and emotions of our musicians, so our job is to find a way to teach effectively and convey what we want verbally and through gestures.” 

Miranda has taught and directed at Emporia State University since 2015 and is one of the founders of the Emporia State University String Camp and Stringfully, both of which serve K-12 students. 

Here, he is exploring possibilities of continuing the popular annual children’s concert started by Munguia, as well as other activities to encourage string playing in the region. 

“I want to raise future generations of educators and performers from Kansas and the world!” he said. “I also look forward to connecting with community members who play, and to perform fulfilling repertoire.” 

Miranda also holds a master’s degree from Illinois State University and a doctorate from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Season details will be announced soon.

Learn more about PSU in Paraguay.

Learn more about the Department of Music.