Conductors

Christian Vásquez

Chief Conductor, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra
Music Director, Teresa Carreño Youth Orchestra of Venezuela

Wolf Marloh

Introduction

Christian Vásquez became Chief Conductor of the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra at the beginning of the 2013/14 season, inaugurating the start of an initial four-year term with Mahler Symphony No. 2 in the orchestra’s new hall in August 2013. The 2015/16 season saw him become the Principal Guest Conductor of the Het Gelders Orkest, starting his tenure with a tour of the Netherlands featuring an all-Latin programme. He is also Music Director of the Teresa Carreño Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, notably leading them on a tour of Europe which saw them perform in London, Lisbon, Toulouse, Munich, Stockholm and Istanbul.


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Performance Schedule

 

Performance Schedule

 
  • 20 Jan 17 New Jersey Symphony Orchestra
    Richardson Auditorium, Princeton
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    “On Friday night at Richardson Auditorium at Princeton, the 2017 Winter Festival continued with another strong collaboration between the NJSO and Zukerman, but it was perhaps most notable for the debut of conductor Christian Vasquez. The young, Venezuelan maestro impressed in his first piece with the New Jersey players: Samuel Barber’s spry “The School of Scandal” overture from 1933.

    From the moody, spiky opening to the brassy finish. Vasquez led a taut account of the score. The warm, reverberant acoustics inside the Romanesque lecture hall only helped make Barber’s plush, Neo-Romantic music sound vital. Robert Ingliss provided a lovely oboe solo, and Vasquez articulated Barber’s melodies with skill.  The 9-minute overture was often performed in the 1950’s but its more of a rarity today — the NJSO has been dusting it off of late, and as this performance made clear, it’s a good fit for them.

    After intermission, Vasquez conducted Camille Saint-Saens’ “Organ” Symphony #3. This 1886 work is big in size, if not in length. Vasquez didn’t shy away from this, amping up both the volume and the intensity of the playing.

    The main event of the evening was Zukerman’s account of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, which was played right before intermission. Zukerman came onstage with a long, loose-fitting, Nehru collar black shirt — which contrasted with Vasquez’s tux and white tie. The famous concerto in D-minor opens with timpani and winds. Vasquez brought in the strings smoothly and then Zukerman (playing without a score) meshed his violin with the whole band beautifully.

    Zukerman played the commonly used Fritz Kreisler cadenza — and did so with panache, but his solo work never pulled the spotlight from Vasquez and the band.

    Zukerman appeared to appreciate the young maestro’s work in his debut; when the concerto was finished, the soloist immediately flashed him a big smile and began applauding. Vasquez earned a nice hand from the crowd, too.  Zukerman’s curtain call prompted not only wild clapping, but also foot stomping by both the paying audience and members of the orchestra.”
    James C. Taylor, NJ Advance Media, 23 January 2017

  • 04 Dec 14 Stavanger Symphony Orchestra
    Gothenburg Konserthus and Norwegian Opera, November 2014
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    “And for the finale, Tchaikovsky’s fourth symphony, the orchestra gave a convincing interpretation in a remarkably homogenous and organically fluid performance.  The Chief Conductor of the orchestra, Christian Vasquez, emphasised the central drama of the music with its long lines and emotional attack, but without it becoming too noisy or sentimental.  Instead there prevailed a richness of nuances and the sensitivity of a chamber performance, along with strong currents of energy and a collective power in the performance.”

    (Translation courtesy of the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra)
    Magnus Haglund, Göteborgsposten, 29 November 2014

    “Christian Vasquez at the helm of the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra in top form at the Opera House in Oslo.

    … This was actually the first opportunity for me to hear them under their new Chief Conductor, the young Christian Vasquez from Venezuela. It was quite an event.

    First we heard an extremely secure, but in no way restrained or cautious, performance of Ørjan Matre’s fastidious “preSage”.  This was followed by Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto with Benjamin Schmid as soloist … The variety, in part a raw expression in bowing, ensured that the music did not disappear, as is often be the fate of Prokofiev’s music, in superficial virtuosity.  Together with Vasquez’ light and elegant phrasing throughout, the result was incandescent.

    Their final work was Tchaikovsky’s fourth symphony.  It was completely overwhelming.  I have been following the SSO on and off for many years, and I cannot remember having heard them perform any better.  A real depth of sound and nuances in phrasing were all present. It says a lot about how good the SSO actually is, but it also displays what a great conductor they have in Christian Vasquez.”

    (Translation courtesy of the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra)
    Ståle Wikshåland, Dagbladet 2 December 2014

  • 09 Jun 14 Teresa Carreño Youth Orchestra of Venezuela
    Royal Festival Hall, London
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    “But never underestimate the essential seriousness of this huge orchestra, with its 13 double basses. Even Berlioz’s Le carnaval romain is played with a musical force and strength of will rare in adult orchestras. Vásquez conducts from memory. Plenty of eye contact, and a relaxed, supple conducting technique belie the obvious rigour of rehearsal. Stravinsky’s 1919 Firebird Suite revealed quickfire discipline of ensemble: a trembling of wings of the finest feathers, a great weight achieving lift-off weightlessly, and oboe, bassoon and cello solos of great beauty.

    More golden storytelling in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade — a perfect showpiece for the orchestra’s young leader. A massive ocean of bodies and bows danced like a wave of the sea, as the players engaged with the music’s internal rhythms. And an avian clarinet to die for matched the delicacy of percussion in a gripping and powerfully paced performance.”
    Hilary Finch, The Times, 9 June 2014

  • 30 Aug 13 Inaugural concert as Chief Conductor of the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra
    Fartein Valen Concert Hall
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    “Vanskeligheten med å fremføre dette enorme verket ligger dels i at det kan utartete til en rekke effecter, dels at det lange blikk som Mahler forlanger, kan fortape seg i detaljer.  Christian Vasquez unngikk begge deler; han tok seg tid med det nødvendige detaljarbeidet og hastet aldri av gårde til et høydepunkt.  Han hadde et suverent grep om verkets dramaturgi der han ikke overdrev kontrollen med orkesteret, men lot det få utfolde seg relativt fritt.

    Denn konserten viste hva SSO nå kan drive det til.  Og at Vasquez ikke bare arbeider grundig med orkesteret, men også med et sammensatt kor som klang usedvanlig homogent.  Verkningen av fjernorkesteret bak scenen var til å få frysninger av.  Berørt var til de grader en fullsatt Valen-sal som ga jublende og stående applaus etter en katarsis på halvannen time.

    The difficulty of performing this massive work lies partly in that it can become just a succession of effects, and partly in that the long lines Mahler demands can get lost in details.  Christian Vasquez avoided both. He took his time with the necessary detailed work and never rushed towards the climaxes.  He had a masterly grip on the dramatic composition of the piece, never overdoing his control with the orchestra, but letting them develop relatively freely.

    This concert demonstrated what the SSO is now capable of, and that Vasquez not only works thoroughly with the orchestra, but also with a combined choir that produced an incredibly homogeneous sound.  The effect of the off-stage orchestra sent shivers down the spine.  The packed hall was obviously moved by the performance and gave a standing ovation after the 90 minutes of emotional release.”

    (Translation courtesy of Stavanger Symphony Orchestra)
    Arnfinn Bø-Rygg, Stavanger Aftenblad, 30 August 2013

  • 11 Jan 13 Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse
    Halle aux Grains
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    “Christian Vasquez et l’Orchestre du Capitole ont à leur tour exalté les beautés d’un chef-d’oeuvre de la musique russe du XXe siècle: la Cinquième symphonie de Prokofiev.  Le chef vénézuélien, entendu en octobre à la tête du jeune Orchestre Teresa Carreno, sait tirer le meilleur de tous les pupitres de l’orchestre pour livrer une version de la partition riche de timbres et habitée.  L’Adagio était à la fois poignant et implacable.”
    Anne-Marie Chouchan, La Dépèche du Midi, 16 January 2013

  • 30 Jun 11 Philharmonia Orchestra
    Royal Festival Hall, London
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    “El sistema, Venezuela’s revolutionary music education programme, has been running for decades, but has only registered internationally over the past five years.
    One of its latest products is Christian Vásquez, a 26-year-old conductor who is already making waves … From the lovely meandering cor anglais solo that set things moving, Berlioz’s Roman Carnival overture seemed to gather its momentum from Vásquez’s body.  He is a hypermobile conductor, bouncing merrily, gesturing wildly, but with firm control of the direction.

    … For Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony (the Pathétique), as for the Berlioz, Vásquez did without a score.From the moment the sinister bassoon was answered by ominous violas, this was a reading of palpable tension.  Even the jaunty dance of the second movement was infected with unease, while there was a manic nerviness in the third movement march that seemed to prefigure Shostakovich. Tchaikovsky doesn’t always sound this contemporary, and it was thrilling.”
    Evening Standard, 1 July 2011

  • 01 Oct 10 Teresa Carreno Youth Orchestra
    Tour of Europe
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    “Conductor Christian Vasquez moved the Allegro [of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony] along at a thrusting pace, with the syncopations bouncing across the bar-lines; he found a wide range of dynamic contrasts in the slow movement, and wove pianissimo spells in the Scherzo; this is a man who knows exactly what he wants, and how to get it.  And this is an orchestra whose cleanness of sound belies both its youth and its gargantuan size.”
    Michael Church, The Independent, 15 October 2010

    “Vásquez shaped everything with a mature, unostentatious hand … Much of the credit must go to the orchestra’s young conductor Christian Vásquez, who shaped everything with an impressively mature, unostentatious hand.”
    Ivan Hewitt, The Telegraph, 13 October 2010

    “It is less the sense of refinement than that of struggle which is the essential ingredient here.  Indeed, if authenticity in music refers, as it should, to capturing the spirit in which a work is conceived, then I have rarely heard the hard-won triumph which concludes each work sound more authentic.  And given that Beethoven’s subject, no less than Prokofiev’s, was man’s ability to take his so-called destiny and shake it by the scruff of the neck until it yields to his will, there can be few orchestras better suited to it than this.  Bravo!”
    Guy Dammann, The Guardian, 13 October 2010