By David Steinberg
The New Mexico Philharmonic begins its seventh season with its first music director. He is Brazilian-born Roberto Minczuk.
His debut in the position will be at the Saturday, Oct. 14 philharmonic concert at Popejoy Hall. It’s the first of seven philharmonic concerts he will conduct this season.
Minczuk isn’t new to the orchestra; he has guest-conducted it on several occasions.
“Those performances we had together, they were full of energy – the chemistry between myself and the musicians, the understanding of the repertoire we performed,” he said in a phone interview from his home in São Paolo.
“So I was really in love with the orchestra, at rehearsals and at performances.”
Philharmonic executive director Marian Tanau said the organization has always had its ear out for conducting talent. Minczuk was chosen after a two-year process that involved a search committee of three musicians, three board members and three audience members.
The committee picked Minczuk from among a handful of finalists who guest-conducted last season. The committee announced its decision this summer. His contract is for three years, Tanau said.
Minczuk shared more of his thoughts about the orchestra and the music it plays.
“The music we deal with are some of the greatest things human beings are capable of creating,” he said. “What we have to do is really get more and more people to enjoy it, support the orchestra and build this organization to the next level of excellence and artistic quality. And of course bringing in investments and sponsorships of the orchestra. That’s also a big part of my job.”
He sees himself as the person whose job it is to to make the orchestra unified, “so that everyone has one musical idea, from beginning to the end.”
The conductor inspires the orchestra so that his leadership must be inspired.
There’s also the technical side of the sound the musicians produce. “…it’s about articulation, the way you play a staccato, an accent, the phrasing, balance, to achieve the perfect balance of all the voices of the orchestra… all the things that shape the music,” Minczuk said.
“This is something I love to do and I’ve been doing for over 20 years. I’ve conducted many orchestras around the world.”
And they include major orchestras in New York, Cleveland, Los Angeles, London, Tokyo, Dallas and Atlanta.
A child prodigy, Minczuk studied horn at the Juilliard School.
Minczuk was a protégé and colleague of the late conductor Kurt Mazur. Under Mazur and Lorin Maazel, he debuted with the New York Philharmonic and was its associate conductor from 2002 to 2004.
Minczuk and the São Paolo State Symphony won a 2012 Gramaphone award of excellence for a recording of the complete Bachianas Brasileiras of Hector Villa-Lobos. And his recording of the “Complete Symphonic Works of Antonio Carlos Jobim” won a 2004 Latin Grammy and was nominated for a 2006 Grammy.
Earlier this year, Minczuk received a second major appointment. He was named music director of the Theatro Municipal Symphonic Orchestra of São Paolo. He recently completed 10 years as music director of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.
Minczuk said he’s open to exploring all the possibilities of music with the New Mexico Philharmonic, music that the musicians want to perform and that the public wants to hear.
As a sign of his openness, he said that he led an orchestra in 2013 that opened for a rock concert in São Paolo.
“We had 80,000 people in the audience. We’re open for ideas to attract audiences…” Minczuk said.
At 6 p.m. on Oct. 14 in the University of New Mexico’s Popejoy Hall, Roberto Minczuk will lead the New Mexico Philharmonic. The concert program includes Johann Strauss II’s “The Blue Danube” Waltz, Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” Donovan Seidle’s “Vernissage,” and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major. The pianist is Chen Guang, the winner of the 2017 Olga Kern International Piano Competition. The competition is held in Albuquerque.
Tickets for the concert are available through www.nmphil.org, at www.unmtickets.com, by calling 925-5858, at ticket offices in the UNM Bookstore and The Pit or at the door. Popejoy Hall is located in the Center for the Arts, on the main UNM campus.