Rodrigo Ruiz was raised in Tijuana, Mexico, where he enjoyed playing with his friends, as all children do, but also loved music and literature. Although barely able to reach the keyboard, he was drawn to a small Steinway spinet that his great-grandfather had gifted his mother for her twelfth birthday. While studying piano under Zarema Tchibirova, and only fifteen at the time, he wrote his first piano sonata, which later received the Outstanding Composition Prize (2008) awarded by the state of Baja California.
Even if many of his early compositions were naturally works for solo piano, his creative efforts also extend into the realm of art song and chamber music. One of his most recent compositions, Venus & Adonis, a song cycle written for Grace Davidson after Shakespeare’s homonymous poem, was sparked by their collaboration in An Everlasting Dawn, Rodrigo’s first album, released independently in 2017 after a successful crowdfunding campaign, which also featured Christopher Glynn and Alison Farr. His first album for Signum Classics, featuring a piano trio and violin sonata performed by Kerenza Peacock, Laura van der Heijden, and Huw Watkins, was released on 19 March 2021.
An avid reader of classics, he is currently preparing his own Italian translation of Shakespeare’s King Lear which will be the basis for a new opera libretto, early sketches of which already populate his sketchbook next to drafts for a string quartet.
After earning his Bachelor of Music cum laude from Lawrence University, Rodrigo was offered a scholarship at University of Michigan’s orchestral conducting program where he completed his Master’s in 2014. During this time he was assistant conductor in the recording of Milhaud’s L’Orestie d’Eschyle for Naxos Records, a project that was nominated for the 2015 Grammy Awards for Best Opera Recording.
Rodrigo, recipient of the merit-based Joseph Campbell Scholarship, is now pursuing a Ph.D. in Mythological Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute, investigating novel ways to fuse music and myth through opera, oratorio, masses, programmatic music, and other genre-bending works, such as Tattvas, a five-work project ‘for orchestra and elemental nature’, as he likes to call it, which crowds his piano and writing desk; in it, each of the five elements of the ancient world —earth, water, fire, air and ether—are portrayed through an orchestra, ethnic instruments, and pre-recorded sounds and effects.
In his spare time Rodrigo takes joy in hiking the outdoors, reading, and cooking for family and friends.