Villegas: Master of Guitar
Carlos Izcaray, conductor
Pablo Villegas, guitar and curator
Preview Talk with Alan Chapman at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:45 p.m.
Be swept away by the romantic charm of the guitar as Pacific Symphony embarks on a special celebration of this popular instrument. A festival curated by the “master of guitar” Pablo Villegas takes you on a journey to Spain with Joaquín Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, inspired by the real-life royal Spanish palace.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Carlos Izcaray is music director of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and of the American Youth Symphony. Praised by the international press, he won top prizes at the 2007 Aspen Music Festival and later at the 2008 Toscanini International Conducting Competition. Since then he has appeared with numerous ensembles across five continents and is now firmly established as one of the leading conductors of his generation. Throughout his career Izcaray has shown special interest and prowess in tackling some of the most complex scores in the symphonic repertoire, while also championing the historically informed approach to works from past eras.
On the symphonic platform he is leading ensembles such as the St. Louis, North Carolina, Grand Rapids and Kitchener-Waterloo Symphonies, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of San Antonio, Orchester der Komischen Oper Berlin, Malmö Symfoniorkester, Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini, Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto Casa da Música, Orchestra Regionale dell’Emilia-Romagna, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Macedonian Philharmonic, Bangkok Symphony Orchestra, Kwazulu-Natal Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra of Colombia, Bahia Symphony Orchestra, Salta Symphony Orchestra, Venezuela Symphony Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfónica Municipal de Caracas, and Orquesta Filarmónica Nacional de Venezuela, among others. For a forthcoming release on the Orchid Classics label Izcaray recorded Max Richter’s Recomposed: Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and violinist Francisco Fullana.
A distinguished instrumentalist himself, Izcaray has featured as concert soloist and chamber musician worldwide, and served as Principal Cello and Artistic President of the Venezuela Symphony Orchestra prior to dedicating his career fully to the podium. Increasingly active as a composer, Izcaray’s orchestral work Cota Mil was premiered by the Orquesta Sinfónica Municipal de Caracas, and a new composition, Yellowhammer, will receive its world premiere with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra conducted by the composer in February 2018.
Izcaray was born into a family of several artistic generations in Caracas. At the age of 3 he was enrolled in Venezuela’s public system of youth orchestras, continuing at the Emil Friedman Conservatory, where he was a boy chorister as well as an instrumentalist. He studied conducting with his father since he was a teenager, and went on to become a distinguished fellow at the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen. Izcaray is an alumnus of the Interlochen Arts Academy, New World School of the Arts, and Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. He is a dual citizen of Spain and Venezuela, and divides his time between Birmingham (AL) and Berlin.