The Alabama Symphony Orchestra and I performed two special concerts last week featuring the lovingly restored 'Violins of Hope', instruments which Jewish musicians were forced to play amidst the atrocities of the Holocaust. I spoke to Bham Now about the significance of this project to the ASO, and within the context of my own experience:
"Violins of Hope is one of the most powerful projects that I’ve ever witnessed that deals with the horrors of the Holocaust. It tells a strong message, while also bringing people together though a deep musical experience. It is an opportunity for great reflection on the past, but also a call to action to build a better future.
We at the Alabama Symphony Orchestra feel privileged to be a part of this, and are honored to play on these restored instruments. They once belonged to colleagues whose lives ended in tragedy, so we feel it is our honor and duty to keep their music alive."
Read the full interview with Bham Now's Pat Byington here.
Last week I was at the UCLA's Royce Hall with the American Youth Symphony to conduct John Williams' timeless E.T. score. We played along live whilst the film was projected behind the orchestra, afterwards receiving a standing ovation. Marlee Bradford at the Film Music Society kindly commented:
"AYS music director Carlos Izcaray conducted the ensemble of 80-plus young, pre-professional musicians and earned a roaring standing ovation at its conclusion."
Read Marlee's full article: http://www.filmmusicsociety.org/news_events/features/2017/112017.html
To begin the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra's 50th anniversary season celebrations, tomorrow I will lead a free community concert at the California Plaza Water Court, giving commentary in both Spanish and English. Visit the LA Chamber Orchestra website for more information.
Arts BHam have published a review of my most recent concert with the Alabama Symphony. We were joined by the exceptional pianist Stephen Hough for Brahms' Piano Concerto and also performed Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5. The concert the 2016-17 Masterworks Season, and marks the start of my second season with the orchestra.
Extract from the review below:
"Izcaray’s focus was more on broader issues such as overarching shape and form. Textures veered more toward sound mass than intimate gestures, especially noticeable when the brass powered over the strings in tutti passages and in bouts of uneven ensemble. But those moments were far overshadowed by an engaging impulse and drive in the first and last movements, and by the buoyant character of the third movement’s lilting waltz. Most memorable was the Andante cantabile second movement, a host of artful wind solos led by principal horn David Pandolfi and strings that veritably sang."
After a long interview process, I can finally share the wonderful news about a new appointment in Los Angeles!
I'm incredibly honored and excited to become the next Music Director of the American Youth Symphony, an ensemble founded by Mehli Mehta 51 years ago which is an elite training orchestra with a bright future in the great city of Los Angeles. It's always been my wish to be able to work both with established professionals as well as with the young developing generations of the music world, so being able to serve as Music Director of both the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and now AYS is without a doubt a true blessing.
In just a few days I get the great opportunity to conduct the world premiere of Paul Desenne's Symphony #5, Opus. 81. Finished earlier this year, and handed to me not too long ago, this work is literally fresh out of the oven. It's definitely not the first time I've given a first performance of a work in my career, but it's amazing how each time this happens I notice a new set of challenges, yet a similar sense of exhilaration. In this particular case, though, there's a special circumstance worth reflecting on.
On one hand, there's my personal history with Paul, whom I've admired as an integral musician - cellist, pedagogue, commentator, and composer (all facets at a remarkably high level). I have known Paul-the-musician since my childhood, and Paul-the-composer since my early college years, and by now I've had the honor of performing many of his works, both as instrumentalist and conductor. Over the course of these many years we've become great friends, and it's perhaps this friendshi...
The Alabama Symphony Orchestra's Winter Dreams Festival has received a great response in the press. The festival features music from many Russian composers, from the unforgettable melodies of Tchaikovsky to the dark power of Shostakovich, from the sharp intellect of Stravinsky to the orchestral mastery of Rimsky-Korsakov.
Commenting on the opening concert at Alys Stephens Center, Michael Huebner from Arts BHam wrote:
"Izcaray and ASO assembled a performance that was subtly expressive and impeccably balanced ... Izcaray seized the opportunity to mold ASO into an intricate, though highly expressive entity, taking full advantage of its excellent woodwind soloists, horns and crisp strings. This was Izcaray’s finest single performance yet with ASO, largely due to the conductor’s vivid gestures, measured pace, well-proportioned silences and crisp communication across the entire stage.”
The second half of January and early February will mark a very exciting period for me as I embark on a great Russian music journey with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. It’s amazing how many great composers and masterpieces have come to our attention from that region of the world, and the fact that we’re performing their music during this time of the year makes the name of our celebration, Winter Dreams Festival, very fitting. From the unforgettable melodies of Tchaikovsky to the dark power of Shostakovich, from the sharp intellect of Stravinsky to the orchestral mastery of Rimsky-Korsakov, and other immortal names such as a Prokofiev and Rachmaninov, I believe we’re all in for a treat.
It’s a unique (and challenging!) opportunity for me, as I will not only lead two Masterworks concerts with the great Alabama Symphony Orchestra, but also share the smaller stage as cellist in our Concertmaster & Friends Series, with ASO Concertmaster Daniel Szasz and acclaimed pianist Yakov Kasman. I’m v...
Edward Ashton (writing for Weld, Birmingham) discusses my work so far as the newly appointed Music Director at the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.
"The recently arrived maestro of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra challenges his musicians and finds them up to the task of building a legacy.
The Alabama Symphony Orchestra is settling in comfortably under the leadership of the recently appointed conductor and music director, Venezuelan-born Carlos Izcaray. He was confirmed in that role by the ASO’s executive committee in January of this year, but he did not officially assume the role until September 1, when he and his family relocated to Birmingham from Berlin."
Michael Huebner at Arts Bham has reviewed the Alabama Symphony Orchestra's latest Masterworks concert. For the second concert in this season's Masterworks series, the Alys Stephens Center welcomed soloist Joyce Yang in a programme including Beethoven's Coriolan Overture, Liszt's Totentantz, Falla's Nights in the Garden of Spain and Brahms' Symphony No. 3.
"... Izcaray has thus far revealed a solid, secure path of classic elegance. Another of Izcaray’s assets is his ability to shape colors, not through aggressive manipulation, but through subtle refinement. With a piano virtuoso of Joyce Yang’s caliber contributing Friday, the orchestra created an atmosphere of shimmering beauty in Manuel de Falla’s suave musical panorama, Nights in the Gardens of Spain."