conductor Carlos Izcaray makes his Grand Rapids Symphony debut on Feb. 19-20 to
lead your Grand Rapids Symphony in music touching three centuries and three
Now in his
first season as music director of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Izcaray is a
candidate to become the next music director of the Grand Rapids Symphony.
Mezzo Soprano Katherine Pracht
conductor leads your Grand Rapids Symphony in Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No 3
and in Claude Debussy’s “La Mer” (“The Sea”) in the seventh concert of the
2015-16 Richard and Helen DeVos Classical Series.
The program also
welcomes mezzo-soprano Katherine Pracht as soloist in “Neruda Songs,” a cycle
of five songs with texts by poet Pablo Neruda, set to music by contemporary
American composer Peter Lieberson.
Caracas into a musical family, Izcaray’s father is a noted conductor and music
educator, and his mother as an arts administrator. Izcaray, a cellist, along
with his two brothers all pursue music professional.
of Interlochen Arts Academy and Indiana State University, Izcaray won top
prizes in 2008 at the Toscanini International Conductors Competition and in
2007 at the Aspen Music Festival, where he also was a distinguished fellow at
the American Academy of Conducting.
A cellist by
training, Izcaray enjoys playing electric cello as well as acoustic cello, and
he composes and dabbles as a disc jockey
on Carols Izcaray:
Q - Venezuela is famous for its education of young musicians
through its publicly financed music education program, “El Sistema,” launched
in the 1970s to provide opportunities to impoverished children. The program
gave Los Angeles Philharmonic music director Gustavo Dudamel his start and you
have been involved with as well. What sort of lessons from your experience with
this program do you bring to the podium?
There's an overall feeling of joy, humility, and love towards
music in Venezuela that I believe has influenced me greatly and also helped me
maintain a fresh approach towards this great art. “El Sistema” was a very
valuable and useful experience where I was exposed to musicians of all
varieties, from professionals to semi-professionals, from educators to social
workers. Working there helped me appreciate even more the power of music over
the human soul and society.
Q- What are your favorite pieces to conduct? Do you have a
(Berlioz’) “Symphonie Fantastique,” Strauss tone poems and operas,
symphonies of Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, Haydn, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Mozart,
Sibelius, Schumann, and Shostakovich.
Anything from Bach, Bartok, Britten, Debussy, Ravel, or
Stravinsky. Late works of Dvorak, Rachmaninoff Schubert, Tchaikovsky, and
Verdi. More rarely performed composers
include (John) Corigliano, (Henri) Dutilleux, (Alberto) Ginastera, (Carl) Nielsen,
(Silvestre) Revueltas and (Franz) Schreker.
Americans such as Barber, Bernstein, and Ives. Operas of Massenet, Puccini, and Wagner. The
list could really go on and on. I just love what I do!
Q - Your father is a very well-known musician in Venezuela. What
sort of impact has your father's career had on your music?
My father instilled a genuine love for music in my family's
household. This was accompanied by a sense of mission of the arts in society.
We would play musical games since I was very young. He used to listen to records of pieces such
as Ravel's Bolero with legendary guitarist Alirio Díaz, and together they would
test my young ears to see if I could name all the different instruments as they
would become audible.
Aside from being a distinguished conductor, he’s also an extremely
knowledgeable, kind, and inspiring pedagogue, so it's probably no surprise that
all three of his sons ended up being musicians. My mother, who is an arts
administrator and an enthusiastic choral musician, also is an important part of
the equation. I literally grew up in a musical and overall artistic world.
Carlo Izcaray, GRS music director candidate
Q - When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in
It wasn't until I was between 16 and 17 that I felt that music was
my true calling. Listening repeatedly to Yo-yo Ma's recording of the Elgar
Cello Concerto was the catalyst to making this decision. My deep interest in
symphonic music and conducting started with Brahms symphonies, Ravel, “The Rite
of Spring,” Bruckner’s Seventh, and rare pieces like Shostakovich's “The
Execution of Stepan Razin” and Krzysztof Penderecki's
chilling work “Utrejna” (“The Entombment of Christ”)
Q - What is
something you like to do in your spare time outside of music?
Enjoying my family, reading, watching movie classics, shooting
basketball hoops, outdoor activities, photography, and connecting with old and
Q - What are you most looking forward to during your visit to
I'm looking forward to joining the stage with a highly respected
and exemplary orchestral. Aside from that, I'm also excited about spending some
quality time in an area not so far from where I finished high school and
perhaps visiting a couple of the world-famous Grand Rapids art shows and