Welcome to "Meet the Conductor," a behind-the-scenes blog series getting to know the Houston Symphony's exceptional artists. In this series, we take you up close and personal with the artists on stage at Jones Hall every weekend. Read on to learn more about the inspirations, challenges, and musical passions that drive these remarkable artists. And, of course, you'll learn some fun facts along the way! Dive in and help us celebrate the diverse stories and experiences that make each musician an integral part of our symphonic family.
Name: Gonzalo Farias
Position: Assistant Conductor
Hometown: Santiago, Chile
Gonzalo Farias lived in Boston for over ten years, which also feels like a second home to him. "Home is also where most of the score, good wine, and good food are." —G. Farias
Tell us a little about yourself.
I love music with all my heart. Music has been a major path to finding diversity, commonalities, healing, and purpose in my life. I’ve devoted my life to music… but I’ve learned that beyond music, there are people. That’s the real challenge and treasure for all of us. That’s the heart of it all.
Can you tell us about your new role as Assistant Conductor?
I’m excited to get to know Houston and its diverse community. The role mostly comprises assisting our Music Director, conducting the many Educational and Family Concerts, and creating a tangible relationship with the Houston audience. I’m excited to work with the orchestra, to understand the needs of the community, and to provide value to them.
How long have you been conducting, and what do you love most about it?
Professionally, six to seven years. What I love the most is that music gives us all a little window to know ourselves. And in that inner exploration, we also get to know each other better. That little space between who I am and what others are is music; and in that space, conducting is one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences ever.
What part of your first season with the Houston Symphony are you looking forward to the most?
I’m looking forward to every single concert I'll conduct with the orchestra. It’s such a genuine miracle to be able to have the level of artistry we have in Houston. I can’t help but point out Strauss’s Alpine Symphony and Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 6 this season. They are one of the most mind-blowing experiences that you can ever imagine.
Do you play any instruments?
I have played the piano since I was 5 years old and have many degrees, including a Doctoral degree, in it.
What is your favorite piece of music (to either conduct, perform, or listen to)?
My bucket list dreams are to conduct Strauss's Alpine Symphony and Mahler's Third Symphony. I have played Schumann’s Kreisleriana many times and Beethoven’s Sonata Op.111. Those were my pieces.
To listen to is Brahms's Piano Quartet Op. 60, third movement. That’s pure love.
Outside of classical music, what genre of music is your favorite or who are your favorite artists?
Regina Spektor, Norah Jones, Los Panchos, Mercedes Soza, Violeta Parra, Joao Gilberto, Beatles.
Do you have any favorite books?
Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 and Savage Detectives, and Gabor Mate’s The Myth of Normal.
What's a fun fact about you that you would like our patrons to know?
Wine: I’ve been seriously learning about it for some time. Chateau Beaucastel is an iconic and very meaningful wine. for me. But I’m constantly learning more about it and its relationship with art and music.
Zen: I studied Zen Buddhism for some time too. It has shaped my life, and I’m constantly curious about their approach.
If you could choose any three people, living or deceased, to have dinner with, who would they be and what kind of food would you have?
Ludwig van Beethoven, Gustav Mahler, and J.S. Bach… and mostly to look at Ludwig’s and Gustav’s faces drop. I would have duck breasts with roasted vegetables (in duck fat) with a Chateau Beaucastel 2007 and Chateau d’Yquem 2001 for dessert. Can we make that happen, please?