Mar 19, 2022 - World

Classical music's rising Latin American stars

Lina González-Granados conducting in New York in 2021. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Lina González-Granados conducting in New York in 2021. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Latin American conductors of classical music, along with opera singers, are making it big in an industry that has been mostly white and European since its beginnings.

Driving the news: Colombian Lina González-Granados was recently named the resident conductor for the Los Angeles Opera, becoming the first Latina to get a major conducting post in one of the biggest U.S. opera companies.

  • She will make her LA debut in September. First, she’ll conduct “The Barber of Seville” at the Dallas Opera in a guest stint this weekend.
  • Bass-baritone Valeriano Lanchas will join her as Dr. Bartolo, which will be “the first time two Latinos make a joint debut in a big U.S. opera house,” González-Granados told Axios Latino.

By the numbers: On average in the past decade, around 10% of musicians and 20% of conductors in U.S. orchestras were non-white, according to a League of American Orchestras report.

  • Of those, 2.5% of musicians and almost 8% of conductors were of Latino origins.

What they’re saying: “There are and have been Latinos in classical music for a long time, but it’s such a competitive field and we’re up against 200 or 300 years of tradition, so of course it’s taken a while," González-Granados said. "But now you can see Latin Americans on huge, huge stages and little by little Latinos on smaller stages as well.”

  • González-Granados is also a co-founder of the group Unitas Ensemble, which highlights concert music written by Latinos and Latin Americans.

Be smart: The small but increasing number of major conductors with Latino origins also includes Venezuelan megastar Gustavo Dudamel, San Francisco Philharmonic founder Jessica Bejarano, Cuban-American conductor/composer Odaline de la Martínez, Glenn Garrido at the Houston Latin American Philharmonic Orchestra and Mexican Alondra de la Parra.

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