Diego Matheuz

Associate Conductor, Sinfónica Simón Bolívar de Venezuela

© Carlos Vargas


Diego Matheuz is a graduate of the internationally known Venezuelan Sistema, and is already widely known as one of the most promising talents from the Americas. Diego held the title of Principal Conductor of Teatro la Fenice from September 2011 to 2015, and continues to return regularly. From 2013 to 2016 Diego was also Principal Guest Conductor of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Last season he conducted the Konzerthausorchester Berlin at the ECHO Klassik Awards, broadcast live on ZDF TV.

An accomplished opera conductor, this season Diego returns to Spain for his debut at the Palau de les Arts in Valencia conducting Madama Butterfly. Later this season Diego will conduct a double bill of Wolf-Ferrari’s Il Segreto di Susanna and Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine at the Teatro Regio Torino featuring soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci, and Rossini’s Adina o Il califfo di Bagdad at the Rossini Festival Pesaro.

Diego’s orchestral engagements this season are focused in Europe, where he conducts the Brussels Philharmonic, BBC Philharmonic, Orchestre National de Bordeaux Aquitaine, Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana and Warsaw Philharmonic among others. He also returns to Japan to work with Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra.

Click here to read Diego’s full biography.


Performance Schedule

  • 26 Feb 18 Piazzolla/Cresens/Galliano Brussels Philharmonic
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    “…Matheuz inspiriert das Orchester zu einem sehr federnden Klang, der in Verbindung mit energetisch-dynamischer Rhythmik außerordentlich wirkungsvoll wird. Sehr schön und stimmungsvoll gerät allerdings auch der langsame Satz.”

    Pizzicato, 26 February 2018

  • 21 Jan 17 Brahms, Kodály, Tchaikovsky Orquesta Sinfónica de la Comunidad Valenciana
    Auditorio de Castellon
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    ”Mention should be made, right away, of the excellent work of the young Venezuelan conductor Diego Matheuz, … [who] has a clear, very intense style and above all, personality and inspiration.” [Translation]
    Antonio Gascó, El Periodico Mediterráneo, 29th January 2017

    ”Matheuz offered excellent versions of a programme that was complex and diverse, showing l’Orquestra Valenciana’s wealth of powers.” [Translation]
    Miguel Blasco, Levante, 24th January 2017

  • 16 Sep 16 Beethoven MiTo Festival 2016: Orchestra del Teatro Regio di Torino
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    [On Beethoven Symphony No 7] ”Matheuz offered us a magnificent performance …. Some moments are destined to remain in our memories: In the famous Allegretto the intimate tones and almost sorrowful, relentless pulse, the melody of the violas and cellos that introduces the second theme and finally the overwhelming vitality during the conclusion of the Allegro con Brio that brought out the most lively enthusiasm in the large audience of the Regio.” [TRANSLATION]

    Lodovico Buscatti, Opera Click, 19th September 2016

  • 04 Jun 16 Prokofiev Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
    Hamer Hall
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    [Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juilet] ’’… Conducting from memory, it was clear how personally passionate Matheuz was for this music, and this enormous sincerity was entirely reflected by the clarity and polish of the MSO’s delivery.

    However, this performance went beyond mere technical accuracy. From the furious aggression of The Montagues and the Capulets to the blissful joy of The Balcony Scene, and the wrought passions of The Death of Juliet, the emotional potency of this music was summoned from somewhere deeper and more essential than just rich harmonies and inventive orchestrations…”
    Maxim Boon, Limelight Magazine, 6th June 2016

  • 24 Oct 15 Mendelssohn Maggio Musicale Fiorentina
    Teatro Dell'Opera di Firenze
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    ”…The portrayal that Matheuz offers is rather bright, passionate and energetic: the composer’s figurative clues have been interpreted by the conductor more in terms of pure instrumental timbres in the winds and accuracy of phrasing than merely in search of generic twilight or romantic atmosphere. The soaringly excellent first instrument parts and the precision and flexibility of the orchestra, who follow the young director with dedication, demonstrate how completely convincing and committed this interpretation was….” [Translation]
    Fabio Bardelli, – October 25th 2015

    ”…The direction of Matheuz is steady, controlled, and not too involved, with a detachment that conveys no lack of passion with frugality and conscience. The score of the conductor is closed, all of its instruction lovingly entrusted to memory alone…” [Translation]
    Fabrizio Basciano, Il Fatto Quotidiano, October 25th 2015

  • 22 Sep 15 Mozart MiTo Festival 2015, Orchestra della Fenice
    Chiesa di San Marco, Milan
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    “…As for Mozart’s Mass in C minor conducted by Diego Mathuez: A full immersion of spirituality and grandeur, especially in the more moving moments…” [Translation]

  • 02 May 15 Beethoven The 1808 Vienna Concerto
    Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
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    “Judiciously spreading this material over 5½ hours, under the suave baton of principal guest conductor Diego Matheuz, the MSO found magnificent form. Making much of the contrast between the turbulent Fifth and the lyrical Sixth symphonies, Matheuz underplayed the Pastoral’s contrasts in articulation, voicing and timbre. His gripping reading of the Fifth gave full dramatic vigour to the outer movements and drew forth buried textures and secondary thematic materials in the Andante”
    Eamonn Kelly, The Australian, May 4th 2015

  • 10 Nov 14 Moncayo / Berlioz Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
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    “…Having been cited by the Gramophone magazine as a young conductor  “on the verge of greatness”, and most recently appointed as Principal Guest Conductor of the Melbourne Symphony, there was considerable anticipation of Matheuz’s debut, and it changed the focus of the concert. … Matheuz  brought along Jose Pablo Moncayo’s colourful piece, Huapango, a modern Mexican composition with lots of brilliance and passionate flow, anchored to a folk core.  As the concert opener, the young conductor certainly dove right in, bringing great enthusiasm and sparkle to the work, and exhibiting strong orchestral control.  Virtually everything was right about the orchestra’s sound, the strings so clean and full of life, the winds strongly shaped and the brass punctuations crisp and incisive. An enjoyable work too, except that it finished so abruptly that no one quite knew that it was over. … The big event was Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, much more of a challenge for a young conductor. Again, the opening was particularly fine, generating considerable plasticity from the gossamer-like strings, then keeping things forward moving and alive by a combination of selective rubato and explosive attack.  One really got the idea of shifting landscapes, of different dreams and fantasies, of different colours and sensualities, with all the ominous undercurrents in place. … The last two movements are of course something a young conductor relishes.  They received a very strong, big-boned treatment, again the rhythmic pulls and pushes rather Spanish in feel but generating an almost Russian intensity as we approached the end.  Though the double bass surges were given extra dramatic emphasis, the Witches’ Sabbath turned out to be more powerful than macabre —  but certainly good enough to bring the house down and show off the command of the conductor and the virtuosity of the orchestra…”
    Geoffrey Newman, Vancouver Classical Music, November 1st 2014

  • 27 Mar 14 Shostakovich / Beethoven Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
    Costa Hall, Geelong, Australia
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    “…For the first time this year, the players impressed as united in their work, from the liberally applied bombast of Shostakovich’s Festive Overture to the heart-quickening stretto that concludes Beethoven’s C minor Symphony … Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony enjoyed orthodox treatment, Matheuz interpolating some unexpected breathing spaces. The entire body made a refreshing experience of this workhorse, the woodwind so penetrating that Brock Imison’s contrabassoon could be perceived through thick, fullorchestra chords, the strings notable for consistently determined attack. An experience well worth the journey.”
    Clive O’Connell, The Sydney Morning Herald & The Age, March 24th 2014

    “…Nearly half way through his three-year contract with the MSO, a suave Matheuz demonstrated a gestural range of cool understatement, punctuated by powerful arm sweeps…”
    Eamonn Kelly, The Australian

  • 03 Dec 13 Mozart / Beethoven Orchestra Mozart
    Queen Elizabeth Hall
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    “…They opened the concert with the effervescent overture to Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. Racing through the musical themes at a rate of knots, the score is overflowing with typical Mozartian comedy and fast-paced melodic ideas that never quite come to their conclusion. The tempo was always moving forward, giving the performance a sense of daring and anticipation, which the incredibly precise playing never allowed to falter. Matheuz’s conducting was understated and playful, and completely memorised, which was highly impressive … (Eroica) Exuberant horns and solo phrases that were seamlessly passed around the orchestra kept the audience on the edge of their seats and Matheuz was a master of keeping the tension bubbling away, just under wraps, before letting the orchestra loose on the climaxes … The tumultuous applause for Matheuz and Orchestra Mozart was well deserved indeed.”
    Emily Owen, Bachtrack, October 7th 2013

    “…29-year-old Venezuelan Diego Matheuz (an El Sistema protégé) offered a glimpse of mentor Claudio Abbado with a very similar technique … After the interval Matheuz, again without the score, gave us the ‘Eroica’. We’d had another young man’s ‘Eroica’ at the Proms: Robin Ticciati’s impeccably and beautifully played but slightly vacuous Scottish Chamber Orchestra performance. Matheuz was more purposeful and convincing; thrilling even, with an icy edge (almost imperceptible at the start) to the second-movement ‘Funeral March’, with so little vibrato. Perhaps there’s more emotional depths to uncover, but the sound was full (the four double basses giving requisite heft to the bass line) and the music-making generous. The musicians seemed to enjoy it too – eye contact between them heightened the collaborative effect – and they were certainly hunting out an encore, even though Matheuz eventually led them off leaving the audience wanting more.”
    Nick Breckenfield, Classical Source, October 3rd 2013

  • 14 Aug 13 Stravinsky Melbourne Symphony Russian Festival Series
    Hamer Hall
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    “…For the second concert celebrating the centenary of Stravinsky’s seminal The Rite of Spring, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra gave a spirited reading of Petrushka under Diego Matheuz. With histrionics-free direction, the MSO’s principal guest conductor gave clarity to the polyrhythms of the outer Shrovetide Fair scenes, the high strings at their best in the brilliantly achieved changes the composer constructed on simple folk tunes and popular songs … Matheuz and his well-exercised collaborators, including guests, realised the hectic dynamism and fluency of a construct few in the audience

    would have seen in its proper form – at a staged performance…”
    Clive O’connell, Brisbane Times, August 10th 2013

    “…Elegant in appearance and style of conducting, he is less flamboyant than one might have expected from a famous product of the El Sistema, the revolutionary initiative that has brought orchestral music to so many children living in poverty in Venezuela. His credentials as a notable conductor of Russian music have been forged in the Sistema, which has the works of Russian composers at its heart. As a violinist, he has played Tchaikovsky’s concerto many times and brought a sympathetic and detailed understanding to this reading of the score … Some of the most satisfying moments of the evening were provided in the item after interval with Stravinsky’s The Firebird: Suite. Generally speaking, the orchestra appeared to be more comfortable and at one in this piece than they had been in Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. With careful attention to detail, Diego Matheuz’ precise style drew fine playing both from the full orchestra and featured orchestral soloists. The horn solos of Sam Jacobs, who was appearing as Principal horn courtesy of New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, were simply glorious. There were also a number of excellent contributions from principal wind and string players, especially from Jeffrey Crellin on oboe and Wilma Smith on violin.

    It was clear from the way the orchestra responded to Matheuz, both during and at the conclusion of the concert, that this relationship is one of the greatest warmth and respect. That kind of close rapport bodes well for an exciting and productive future together. In the short term, we can be confident that the next two concerts in the Russian Festival series will be very rewarding experiences.”
    Heather Leviston, artsHun Australia, August 9th 2013

    “…Matheuz imposed little on the soloist’s intentions, allowing space during her lyrical canzonetta and providing clear direction for well-balanced accompaniment in the outer movements. While there was no shortage of fireworks and technical facility from Skride, this reading was in contrast to the assured individualism experienced days earlier.

    The evening’s highlight did come from the contest of good and evil in the 1945 version of Stravinsky’s The Firebird suite. From the brooding depths of its dark chromatic opening, Matheuz impressed with precise and economical baton work that emphasised rhythm, successfully negotiated the shifting meters and key structures delineating the earthly and supernatural worlds.

    Hopefully a precursor to next week’s Rite of Spring, demonic brass and percussion were unleashed for the exciting rhythmic intensity of the Infernal Dance…”
    Martin Duffy, Sydney Morning Herald, August 9th 2013

    “…Matheuz impressed with a no-frills approach, processing the time-signature changes with a lucid conscientiousness rather than following the Stokowski line and playing the showman-conductor. His results were impressive, the strings showing excellent discipline in the final dances to the ballet’s parts, while the woodwind enjoyed testing exposure, the contrasting introductions clear and mobile even if the bass clarinet lines enjoyed prominence during some ensemble passages.

    All involved met the composer’s demands in this riveting orchestral obstacle course, packing considerable punch and always surprising…”
    Clive O’connell, Sydney Morning Herald, August 15th 2013

  • 04 Apr 13 Moncayo, Chapela (European Première), Prokofiev CBSO, 'Cosmic Dances'
    Symphony Hall, Birmingham
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    “…The whole sequence was beautifully judged by Matheuz, with some refined string textures in the number for Romeo and Juliet alone and the final Death of Juliet, and wonderfully sharp articulation from the orchestra in the Death of Tybalt…”
    Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 29th March 2013

    “…The second half moved abruptly from stars to star-crossed lovers and Prokofiev’s inspired ballet music for Romeo and Juliet. Matheuz, a slight but commanding figure, conducted from memory, creating a perfect balance between love and strife, everything full of character, sparkling, swaggering, passionate and soaring as required, full of tragic momentum until the inevitable end with the lovers united in death. Cosmic indeed!”
    John Gough, Birmingham Post, May 30th 2013

  • 02 Feb 13 Beethoven / Shostakovich Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela
    KKL Hall, Lucerne
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    ‘…The Lucerne Easter Festival recently trained the spotlight on Diego Matheuz, 25, a protégé of Mr. Abbado, who last week conducted the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, the ensemble that stands at the summit of El Sistema’s organizational pyramid. No stranger to the Lucerne audience, Mr. Matheuz substituted for Mr. Abbado last summer at the general rehearsal of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony on such short notice he didn’t have time to change into concert attire for the public event. Engagements with Rome’s Santa Cecilia Orchestra followed as a replacement for an indisposed Antonio Pappano, and last fall Mr. Matheuz was named principal guest conductor of Mr. Abbado’s Orchestra Mozart based in Bologna.  Despite his closeness to Mr. Abbado, Mr. Matheuz said in an interview that his principal conducting teacher remains the legendary José Antonio Abreu, 70, who founded El Sistema in 1976. A year later it did so well at a youth orchestra festival in Aberdeen, Scotland, that the Venezuelan government began funding it. It has done so ever since through some 10 administrations of differing political persuasions. The current budget is around $80 million, of which 90 percent comes from the government.   By all accounts a man of immense organizational and motivational skills, Mr. Abreu is also an outstanding musician with an uncanny ability to pinpoint talent. Mr. Matheuz recalled the time he first expressed to Mr. Abreu an interest in conducting. “‘Fine,’ he said. ‘Come back tomorrow and be prepared to conduct Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.’ The maestro has students conduct silently in lessons, then comments on technique and interpretation.” Yet, since each “núcleo” has an average of three orchestras, opportunities abound for first-hand experience before an orchestra.

    According to Eduardo Méndez, El Sistema’s executive director, the organization is as much a social as a musical one and it emphasizes having fun. Mr. Matheuz said he was nine when he met Mr. Dudamel, four years his senior, and they became soccer buddies as well as a fellow musicians. Students come from all walks of life, but “for many underprivileged youths,” Mr. Méndez said, “El Sistema is an alternative to drugs, street and gangs. They can compare their options — the street or us.” Yet musical excellence is recognized as essential if students are to be inspired to participate fully…

    …Its players show boundless enthusiasm in all their concerts, but Mr. Matheuz’s reading of Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony remarkably channelled that enthusiasm into a cogent interpretation in which moments of brooding intensity were just as convincing as high strung outbursts. He also proved to be an adroit accompanist in Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, which profited from Kolja Blacher’s masterful playing as soloist…’
    George Loomis, New York Times