An engaging orchestral conductor, award-winning pianist and passionate educator, Gonzalo Farias, has been recently appointed as the Associate Conductor of the Jacksonville Symphony. Under the guidance of Courtney Lewis and the Jacksonville Symphony team, Gonzalo’s ambition is to establish music-making as a way of rethinking our place in society by cultivating respect, trust, and cooperation among all people in our community.
He served as the Assistant Conductor of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra under JoAnn Falletta’s leadership. Farias was in charge of an unusually high number of concerts per season covering the whole Hampton Roads area with over 70 concerts per year. The Virginia Gazette noted that “with a lyrical, almost Zen-like quality, the amiable Farias established him as a focused, musical artist who knows what he wants and how to get it – with grace and style and substance.”
Farias was the Associate Conductor of the Occasional Symphony in Baltimore and was the recipient of the prestigious Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Conducting Fellowship for two seasons. Mentored by Marin Alsop, he assisted conductors Robert Spano, Bernard Labadie, Markus Stenz, Christoph König, Johannes Debus, Lahav Shani, among others; he has worked with instrumentalists like Hélène Grimaud, Vadim Gluzman, Johannes Moser, André Watts, and composers Christopher Theofinidis, Anna Clyne, Jonathan Leshnoff, Christopher Rouse, among many others. As former Music Director of the Joliet Symphony Orchestra, Farias transformed the city of Joliet embracing the Hispanic residents of the greater Chicago area with pre-concert lectures, Latin-based repertoire, and a unique side-by-side bilingual narration of Bizet’s Carmen.
During the summer, Farias has worked closely with Jaap Van Zweden and Johannes Schlaefli in the Gstaad Menuhin Festival in Switzerland as well as with Neeme and Paavo Järvi at the Pärnu Music Festival. In the United States, he was the recipient of the prestigious Bruno Walter Memorial Conducting Scholarship twice at the Cabrillo Music Festival and named “Emergent Conductor” by Victor Yampolsky at the Peninsula Music Festival. He attended also the Pierre Monteux Festival where he received the Bernard Osher Scholar Prize. For the past two summers, Farias was Marin Alsop’s Assistant for the New Music Festival curated by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
Out of 566 applicants and 78 countries, he was recently chosen one of 24 finalists in the prestigious 2018 Malko Conducting Competition with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. Hailed by the Gramophone magazine critics, Farias offered one the “most fluent, honest, open-hearted and pointed performances.”. He has conducting experience with orchestras including Charlotte Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Zagreb Philharmonic, National Symphony of Chile, among others.
Farias was born in Santiago de Chile, where he began his piano studies at age five. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the P.C. University of Chile, and then continued his graduate piano studies at the New England Conservatory as a full-scholarship student of Wha-Kyung Byun and Russell Sherman. He has won first prize at the Claudio Arrau International Piano Competition and prizes at the Maria Canals and Luis Sigall Piano Competitions. As a conductor, Farias attended the University of Illinois working with Donald Schleicher, the Peabody Conservatory with Marin Alsop, and worked privately with Larry Rachleff and the late Otto-Werner Mueller.
Besides having a fond love for piano, chamber, and contemporary music, Farias is passionate reader of second-order cybernetics as a way to help understand how complex systems organize, coordinate and interconnect with one another. This includes the interdependent and recursive nature of musical experiences, in which performers and audiences alike interact and respond to each other. His final Doctoral thesis “Logical Predictions and Cybernetics” explores the case of Cornelius Cardew’s “The Great Learning” to redefine music activity as self-organized organization. In addition to that, he has a warm affection for Zen Buddhism, which he has practiced for many years.