Tchaikovsky’s Fifth: About The Artists, Mar 10 - 12 cover

Tchaikovsky’s Fifth: About The Artists, Mar 10 - 12


Featuring sumptuous tone and melodic mastery, Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony culminates in a triumphant final movement. It is led by Manuel López-Gómez, one of the most exciting talents to emerge from Venezuela’s internationally renowned “El Sistema” music program. Before that, the irresistible rhythms of Spain!
This is Part 2 of the Program Notes for March 10-12.
To learn more about Music Director Carl St.Clair, click here.

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Manuel López-Gómez, Conductor

Manuel López-Gómez, Conductor

Conductor Manuel López-Gómez is taking the musical world by storm as one of the most exciting talents to emerge from Venezuela’s internationally renowned music program, “El Sistema.” Maestro José Antonio Abreu, founder of El Sistema, wrote: “Thanks to his exceptional human spirit, high sense of professional responsibility and authentic artistic vision, Manuel is one of the principal and most brilliant leaders of the musical process in Venezuela.”

2014-15 Season

The 2014-15 season came to a triumphant close with a highly successful debut with Washington’s National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, in a program of North and South American music.

Following hugely successful debuts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and Gothenburg Symphony, López-Gómez is increasingly recognized not only for his ground-breaking work as music director of El Sistema in Colombia but also as a guest conductor of visionary and inspiring capabilities.

Early Projects

López-Gómez began his musical life in violin, piano, chamber music and composition.

He performed in the violin section of the Simón Bolívar Orchestra for many years, where his talent for conducting was noticed early on and nurtured by his mentor Maestro Abreu. Following early projects assisting Gustavo Dudamel both with symphony orchestra and opera projects (La Bohème, La Traviata and Don Giovanni), López-Gómez has distinguished himself as a conductor in his own right.

As well as his work in Colombia, López-Gómez visits South American orchestras regularly including the Simón Bolívar Orchestra. Active also in opera, he conducted the world-debut of the recently orchestrated opera Atahualpa by Carlo Enrico Pasta in Lima, Perú, where he shortly returned to conduct a production of Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet.

United Nations

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United Nations

In October 2014, López-Gómez assembled and conducted an orchestra of various El Sistema musicians for a televised performance at the UN General Assembly in New York City, with Lang Lang as soloist.

Looking Forward

Other highlights from the 2014-15 season included his return to the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France as well as performances with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Brussels Philharmonic and the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie and Württembergische Philharmonie in Germany.

He began the season with his debut at the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, performing Wagner and Dvoˇrák. In the summer of 2015, he conducted a production of Il Viaggio a Reims at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, Italy.

He looks forward to conducting engagements with the San Francisco Symphony, Czech Philharmonic and further afield with the Seoul Philharmonic and Sydney Symphony orchestras.

Pablo Villegas, Guitar

Pablo Villegas, Guitar

The soul of the Spanish guitar runs in Pablo Villegas’ blood. Born and raised in La Rioja, Spain, he is distinguished by performances as charismatic as they are intimate. With his singing tone and consummate technique, his interpretations conjure the passion, playfulness and drama of his homeland’s rich musical heritage.

Early Success

At just 15, Villegas won the Andrés Segovia Award, launching a succession of international wins that include Gold Medal at the inaugural Parkening Competition.

He became the youngest of his generation to appear with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by the late Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, and has since performed for the Dalai Lama and Spanish royal family.

Villegas has collaborated with orchestras in more than 30 countries, including the New York, Los Angeles and Israel Philharmonics and the Boston, San Francisco, Houston and Toronto Symphonies. In the 2015-16 season, he makes debuts with six orchestras including the Cincinnati and Santa Barbara Symphonies, and Norway’s Bergen Philharmonic.

New Release

He launches the season with the release of his Harmonia Mundi label debut, Americano, a solo album on which he explores New World guitar traditions from tango to bluegrass.

Previous recordings include Histoire du Tango, with violinist Augustin Hadelich, and Manuel Ponce’s Concierto del sur, a platinum title for Sony Classical. He also recently recorded three Rodrigo concertos with the National Orchestra of Spain.

A dedicated champion of new music, it was Villegas who premiered Rounds, the first guitar composition of Academy Award-winner John Williams, and gave the world and European premieres of Concerto of Rio de Janeiro by Sérgio Assad.

Reaching Out

Reaching Out

In 2007 Villegas founded the Music Without Borders Legacy (MWBL), a non-profit organization that seeks to bridge cultural, social and political boundaries through classical music, reaching more than 15,000 at-risk children and youth to date.

To learn more about Music Director Carl St.Clair, click here.