An engaging orchestral conductor, award-winning pianist, and passionate educator, Gonzalo Farias is the Assistant Conductor of the Houston Symphony. In an ever-changing world, Gonzalo desires to establish music-making as a way of rethinking our place in society by cultivating respect, trust, and cooperation among all people in our community.
Gonzalo previously served as associate conductor of the Kansas City Symphony, associate conductor of the Jacksonville Symphony, assistant conductor of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, and conducting fellow at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Praised for his “clear, engaging” style “with a lyrical, almost Zen-like quality,” Gonzalo has been established “as a focused, musical artist who knows what he wants and how to get it—with grace and substance.” As former music director of the Joliet Symphony Orchestra, he embraced the city of Joliet and its Hispanic residents of the greater Chicago area with pre-concert lectures, Latin-based repertoire, and a unique side-by-side bilingual narration of Bizet’s Carmen.
Gonzalo was recently selected to conduct at the esteemed Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview, the most important showcase for conductors in America. Designed by the League of American Orchestras, the National Conductor Preview chooses the most promising talents in the world for their podium gift and commitment to the future of American orchestras. He was also appointed by the National Endowment for the Arts as a reviewing member for the Grant for Art Projects, judging applications from diverse music institutions to support the latest and most important artistic endeavors in the United States.
During the summers, Gonzalo has worked with Jaap Van Zweden and Johannes Schlaefli at the Gstaad Menuhin Festival in Switzerland as well as with Neeme and Paavo Järvi at the Pärnu Music Festival. In the United States, he was a two-time recipient of the prestigious Bruno Walter Memorial Conducting Scholarship at the Cabrillo Music Festival and named Emergent Conductor by Victor Yampolsky at the Peninsula Music Festival. He also attended the Pierre Monteux Festival, where he received the Bernard Osher Scholar Prize. Out of 566 applicants from 78 countries, he was chosen as one of 24 finalists in the prestigious 2018 Malko Conducting Competition with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. Hailed by the Gramophone magazine critics, Farias offered one the “most fluent, honest, open-hearted and pointed performances.”
Gonzalo was born in Santiago de Chile, where he began his piano studies at age five. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the P.C. University of Chile and then continued his graduate piano studies at the New England Conservatory as a full-scholarship student of Wha-Kyung Byun and Russell Sherman. He won first prize at the Claudio Arrau International Piano Competition and prizes at the Maria Canals and Luis Sigall Piano Competitions. As a conductor, he attended the University of Illinois working with Donald Schleicher, the Peabody Conservatory with Marin Alsop, and worked privately with Larry Rachleff and Otto-Werner Mueller.
Besides having a fond love for piano, chamber, and contemporary music, Gonzalo is a passionate supporter of second-order cybernetics to help understand communication and how complex systems organize, coordinate, and interconnect with one another. This includes the interdependent and recursive nature of musical experiences in which performers and audiences alike interact, respond, and co-create each other’s space. His final doctoral thesis, Logical Predictions and Cybernetics, explores the case of Cornelius Cardew’s “The Great Learning” to redefine music activity as a self-organized organization. In addition, he has a warm affection for his formal studies of Zen Buddhism, which has been a major influence on his approach to music and life.