WILLIAMSBURG — The search continues for a new music director for the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra (WSO) and one candidate has ideas to make classical music more inclusive for audiences.
One of the current leading Latin American conductors in the U.S., Andres Lopera has performed with orchestras throughout the Americas for more than a decade.
When WSO announced the opening for a music director, Lopera applied for the position in 2019.
Though his original audition in 2020 with WSO’s Masterworks Concert was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lopera is eager to bring his extensive experience and background to Williamsburg.
“I was really pleased to know that there’s a community, even though it’s not the biggest metropolitan area, that still cares so much for the arts,” he said.
The Associate Conductor of the Columbus Symphony and Music Director of the Columbus Youth Symphony Orchestra, Lopera has directed numerous performances with orchestras such as the San Antonio, Colorado, New World and Portland Columbia Symphony Orchestras.
He has also performed internationally with the Xalapa Symphony Orchestra and the EAFIT
Symphony Orchestra in his home country Colombia, as well as presented concerts and collaborated with professional and youth orchestras throughout Central and South America.
Like the other current candidates, Lopera conducted a Masterworks Concert as part of his audition. Lopera opened the new Masterworks season on Friday, Sept. 17.
Lopera said that should he be chosen as WSO’s new Music Director, he hopes to provide more access to music to the community.
“Unfortunately, there has been a misconception over many years that orchestra music is elitist or for highly educated or worldly people,” he said. “But for me, it’s never been like that. For me, orchestra music is just this equalizer. We all live in a world of sounds.”
“The access to a beautiful melody goes beyond your skin tone, your racial background, your socioeconomic background,” he added, “I strive for sharing the message of ‘all of you are included.'”
Lopera said that, while he was grateful to having a virtual platform during the pandemic shutdown, being back in person to share music is a special feeling.
“Every time I get to stand in the podium, it’s just the most privileged moment,” he said. “Because you get a group of phenomenal musicians, they’re ready to pour their hearts out and play beautiful music, but it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have an audience.”
What is Lopera’s favorite thing about Williamsburg so far?
“Not to be cheesy, but the people,” he said. “Everyone has been really accommodating. Everybody from the orchestra, and Carolyn Keurajian, the executive director, has moved heaven and earth to make this happen.”
WSO has auditioned five of the seven candidates so far and will announce its new Music Director in January 2022.
Until then, Lopera encourages the community to keep orchestra music growing.
“There’s a space for everybody,” Lopera said. “Going to a symphony orchestra, you have to go with an open heart. Everybody who’s afraid or who have not been to a concert hall, come to the concerts and just experience the music.”
For more information and to purchase tickets to WSO’s upcoming concerts, visit its website. WSO’s next Masterworks concert is Oct. 8.