Juan Antonio Cuéllar (b. 1966, Bogotá) is a Colombian composer and educator.
Raised within a family that appreciated music and that highly valued scholarship, he went on to form a rock band during his early teens in which he played guitar, bass, and keyboards. This rock band also played jazz at restaurants to support their financial expenses as an aspiring musical group.
In 1984, Cuéllar started piano lessons with Colombian pianist Karol Bermúdez, and in 1985 he attended the Pedagogical National University where he studied music pedagogy for two years. At the same time, he took harmony and counterpoint lessons with Colombian composer Luis Torres Zuleta. He also received harpsichord lessons in 1987 from Alvaro Huertas and in 1988 earned his way into the composition program under composer Andrés Posada at the Xaverian Pontifical University of Bogotá.
Diego Arango, in his research about Cuéllar’s piano music, mentions that he was a Fulbright recipient, which allowed him to attend Indiana University in Bloomington where he received his master's and doctorate degrees in theory and composition under the direction of David Dzubay, Eugene O'Brien, and Don Freund. He also received the Indiana University Chancellor's Fellowship.
Upon his return to Colombia, Dr. Cuéllar involved himself with the musical scene in Bogotá, where he received awards on several occasions for his compositions, among them the National Prize of Composition of the District Institute of Culture and Tourism and the Composition Award "Art of the Music."
Cuéllar’s music has been performed by various reputable ensembles, such as the Colombian National Symphony, the Bogotá Philharmonic Orchestra, the American Composers Orchestra, DeciBelio Ensemble, the Kuttner Quartet and the Manolov Quartet. In addition to his work as a composer, Cuéllar played an important role as an educator at the School of Music of the Xaverian Pontifical University, where he was appointed Dean in 2002. For many years, Cuéllar was the executive director of a nation-wide system of youth orchestras in Colombia named Batuta; and is currently the CEO of the National Orchestra of Colombia, as well as assistant professor of music at the Xaverian Pontifical University of Bogotá.
Works for Winds
- Arango, Diego. "Colombian Piano Music for Four Hands: a Historical Context and Performance Catalog." DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts) thesis, University of Iowa, 2013.
- “Composition Alumnus Juan Antonio Cuellar, President of Batuta Foundation in Colombia, Visits the Jacobs School April 11-13.” Remembering David Nathaniel Baker
- "Juan Antonio Cuéllar, nuevo gerente OSNC." Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Colombia. Web. Accessed 13 August 2020