Octavio Mas-Arocas Appointed the Sewanee Summer Music Festival Conductor In-Residence
After the loss of long time Cumberland Orchestra Conductor, Bruce Dinkins, the leadership at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival searched the world of music to find a replacement. The void left by Bruce Dinkins is one that cannot be easily filled. He was one of the most gifted and personable conductors who ever lived and touched the lives of thousands of student musicians during his 20 year relationship with the Sewanee Summer Music Festival.
After two seasons of temporary and guest conductors and an exhaustive search, one candidate fit the position well enough to offer this permanent and important position. Octavio Mas-Arocas has been appointed as the leader of the Cumberland Orchestra and will be in charge of their education, performance, programming, and overall success. Every year, 90 musicians will student under him and perform challenging repertoire to increase their orchestral skills, musicianship, and enjoyment of their art.
Why did you accept this appointment?
When I went there, working with the students and fellow faculty was a great experience. The students were open and eager to learn and the atmosphere was fantastic. The Sewanee community is so unique and I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to become a part of it.
What are your specific plans for your students this summer?
I treat my youth orchestras exactly the same way I treat my college orchestras and professional orchestras. I will encourage them to sound their best, play at their greatest potential, and teach them orchestral playing techniques. This opportunity at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival will give me the opportunity to consistently teach young, bright, and talented musicians. My other goals are to ensure the students have fun performing music and even more important, want to return to the SSMF to work with my and my faculty colleagues.
What are your personal goals as a musician?
I hold myself to the same standards and expectations that I hold my students to. My goal is to always give my students my 300% effort and preparation. My goals also include making a difference in the lives of student musicians and ensuring that the enjoyment of making music for my students is never lost.
Octavio Más-Arocas is a versatile and dynamic conductor whose achievements demonstrate his talent and musicianship.
Chosen by Kurt Masur, Mr. Más-Arocas was awarded the Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Scholarship. Consequently, in September 2011 he traveled to Europe and worked as Maestro Masur’s assistant with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and the Helsinki Radio Orchestra. He also made his German conducting debut conducting the Leipziger Symphonieorchester sharing the podium in a concert with Maestro Masur. The offer came after Mr. Más-Arocas’ New York debut concert sharing the podium with Maestro Masur and the Manhattan School of Music Symphony.
An alumnus of the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen, Mr. Más-Arocas won the Robert J. Harth Conducting Prize in 2008 awarded by David Zinman. He is also the recipient of the 2007 Thelma A. Robinson Award from the Conductors Guild, a Prize Winner of the 2005 Third European Conductors Competition, and a winner of the National Youth Orchestra of Spain Conductors Competition. Mr. Más-Arocas has recently been invited to conduct the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra during the League of American Orchestras National Conference in Dallas.
In the last few years Mr. Más-Arocas has conducted orchestra across North and South America and Europe including the Leipziger Symphonieorchester in Germany, the Spokane, Toledo, Phoenix, Memphis, Kansas City, and San Antonio Symphonies, the National Repertory Orchestra, the Manhatan School of Music Symphony, the World Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Interlochen Philharmonic, the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico Philharmonic, the Rosario Symphony in Argentina, Kharkov Symphony in Ukraine, the National Youth Orchestras of Portugal and Spain, the Pescara Symphony in Italy, the Amsterdam Brass in the Netherlands, and the Ciudad Alcala de Henares Symphony.
Mr. Más Arocas has been assistant conductor of the National Repertory Orchestra, which he conducted in subscription, family, and pops concerts. With the NRO he worked closely with guest artists and conductors such as Leonard Slatkin. Other festival appearances include the Aspen Music Festival, the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music, and the Interlochen Music Festival. This summer he will conduct at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival, at the Brazilian Winter Festival in Campinas, Brazil, and three concerts at the Interlochen Music Festival.
Mr. Más-Arocas has recently been named Director of Orchestras and Conductor of Opera at the Lawrence Conservatory of Music, Lawrence University. Beginning in September 2012 he will conduct and direct the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra, and opera productions.
In 2008 Mr. Más Arocas was named Music Director and Conductor of the renowned Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra. Since his appointment with the IAA Orchestra his performances have been featured on National Public Radio and have been streamed online. Mr. Más Arocas and the IAA have collaborated with such outstanding and diverse musicians as conductor Leonard Slatkin, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steven Stucky, cellist Joshua Roman, Philadelphia Orchestra’s principal tubist Carol Jantsch, and the Latin band Tiempo Libre, among others. Last March Mr. Más-Arocas lead the IAA Orchestra on a national tour that included concerts in New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., Detroit, and Grand Rapids. In 2011, Mr. Más-Arocas co-hosted a new music festival at Interlochen that featured guest composer Steven Stucky. His exciting programming with the IAA Orchestra has included several premieres and commissions as well as fully staged ballets and major works of the choral-orchestral repertory.
Mr. Más Arocas served as assistant conductor at the Madrid Royal Opera House and conducted fully staged opera productions with the Bowling Green State University Opera. He leaded two national tours with the National Youth Orchestra “Templarios” of Portugal, served as member of the National Youth Orchestra of Spain conducting staff, and as assistant conductor of the Bowling Green Philharmonia, and was a regular guest conductor of the BG New Music Ensemble.
For two years, Mr. Más-Arocas studied conducting at the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen with David Zinman who awarded him the Robert J. Harth Conducting Prize. After a very successful workshop with Kurt Masur, the Maestro invited Mr. Más-Arocas to be his apprentice in Europe. Mr. Más-Arocas has also worked with other leading conductors and teachers such as Leonard Slatkin, Marin Alsop, Christoph Eschenbach, James Conlon, James Depreist, Jesús Lopez-Cobos, Gustav Meier, and Larry Rachleff. Mr. Más-Arocas holds degrees from Bard College in New York where he studied with Harold Farberman, the Accademia Musicale Pescarese in Italy with Gilberto Serembe, and has pursued doctoral studies at Bowling Green State University with Emily Freeman Brown.
An enthusiastic advocate of new music, Mr. Más Arocas has commissioned and premiered numerous works and was himself the recipient of the Bowling Green Composition Prize in 2007. He has closely worked with such composers as Steven Stucky, Jennifer Higdon, Joan Tower, Samuel Adler, Chen Yi, Michael Daugherty, and John Harbison among others.