In his fifth season as Music Director of both the New Mexico Symphony and the Puerto Rico Symphony, Guillermo Figueroa intense, passionate musicianship and elegant and precise technique, as well as his rapport with players and audiences alike, have earned him critical acclaim and international recognition, and elevated both organizations to the higher ranks of American orchestras.
The American Record Guide praises Figueroa’s first recording of works by Berlioz, Ravel and Tchaikovsky with the NMSO: The NMSO does not concede anything in terms of polish, precision and overall beauty of tone. Judging from (Figueroas) versatility here, it is clear that the orchestra made a wise choice in engaging this gentleman. This is the kind of sound big-name record companies aim for and often miss. This is one of those surprising little gems that is all the more gratifying because it substantial merit was unexpected. Similar accolades followed the debuts of the Puerto Rico Symphony, under Figueroa’s baton, at Carnegie Hall in 2003 and the Kennedy Center in 2004.
As a Guest Conductor he has appeared with the New Jersey Symphony, The Memphis Symphony, the Phoenix Symphony, the Iceland Symphony, the Colorado Symphony, the El Salvador Symphony, The Xalapa Symphony (Mexico) as well as many performances conducting the New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center. This season marks his debut with the Tucson Symphony, the Juilliard Orchestra and the Santa Fe Symphony, as well as leading the Puerto Rico Symphony in its debut tour of Spain.
Mr. Figueroa has collaborated with many of the leading artists of our time, including Itzhak Perlman, YoYo Ma, Hilary Hahn, Olga Kern, Janos Starker, James Galway, Horacio Gutierrez, Ben Hepner, Rachel Barton Pine, Pepe Romero, Elmar Oliveira, Heidi Grant Murphy, Justino Diaz, Ruth Laredo, Gary Graffman, Vladimr Feltsman, Anne Akiko Meyers, Barry Douglas, Marcelo Alvarez and Salvatore Licitra.
In 2003, with both the New Mexico and Puerto Rico orchestras, he created the most comprehensive Berlioz Festival in the US, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of that composer, with some of the worlds leading Berlioz scholars and performers participating, such as David Cairns, D. Kern Holoman, Jennifer Larmore and Michelle De Young.
Also a renowned violinist, Figueroa is a Founding Member of the world-renowned Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. With this group he has been Concertmaster and soloist in performances throughout the US, Europe and Asia and made over fifty recordings for Deutsche Grammophon. In 1995 he gave the world premiere of Concertino for violin and orchestra by Mario Davidovsky, at Carnegie Hall, written for him and Orpheus.
For ten years he was Concertmaster of the New York City Ballet, appearing in over a hundred performances of violin concerti by Barber, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Berg, Adams, Glass, Bach and Brahms. In the 2006-2007 season he will perform with the American Symphony at Lincoln Center, in the world premiere of a violin concerto also written especially for him by composer Harold Farberman. He has appeared at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and will make his debut with the El Paso Chamber Festival.
With his violinist wife Valerie Turner, they are the Founders and Artistic Directors of the highly acclaimed Festival de Musica Rondena chamber series in Albuquerque. As part of Puerto Rico’s most distinguished musical family he has appeared with the Figueroa Chamber Ensemble at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall and the Kennedy Center.
Figueroa has recorded the Three Violin Sonatas by Bartok for the Eroica Classical label, with pianist Robert Koenig, and an album of virtuoso violin music by Wieniawski, Sarasate and Kreisler for the NMSO label, with sister, pianist Ivonne Figueroa.
An advocate for new composers, Figueroa has given the world premieres of many important composers such as Roberto Sierra, Daron Hagen and German Caceres. He conducted the first recording of Sierra’s oratorio Bayoan, with the Bronx Arts Ensemble Orchestra for Albany Records, as well as playing the premiere of Sierra’s Fanfarria, Aria y Movimiento Perpetuo for violin and piano at the Library of Congress.
Mr. Figueroa studied with his father and uncle at the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico. At the Juilliard School his teachers were Oscar Shumsky and Felix Galimir. His conducing studies were with Harold Farberman in New York.