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October 13th 2015

This historic appointment marks the first time an Australian orchestra has appointed a Music Director.

The Queensland Symphony Orchestra has announced an Australian first in the appointment of acclaimed Conductor Alondra de la Parra as Music Director after a global search.

It is the first appointment of a Music Director by any Australian orchestra, and a major international achievement for the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

QSO Chief Executive Officer Ms Sophie Galaise said Ms de la Parra is revered as one of the most compelling conductors of her generation. “The appointment of Alondra de la Parra is a turning point for the Queensland Symphony Orchestra – not only are we the first in the country to appoint a Music Director, therefore aligning ourselves with the great orchestras of the world, but with our first Music Director we have secured a musical leader who could choose to work with any orchestra across the globe,” she said.

The announcement stands to change the way orchestras throughout Australia work and deliver music.

In May this year, Ms de la Parra performed to standing ovations with the QSO. As Music Director designate in 2016 she will open QSO’s concert season with Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 on February 27. Ms de la Parra will commence her three year role as Music Director in 2017, and she will be resident in Brisbane throughout the year.

As a conductor, Alondra de la Parra has gained widespread international acclaim for her spellbinding and vibrant performances. She has been heralded by Plácido Domingo as “an extraordinary conductor” and the French newspaper Le Monde wrote of her, “there is no doubt that, with Alondra de la Parra, classical music has arrived into the 21st century”.

She holds the distinction of being the first Mexican woman to conduct in New York City, and is an official Cultural Ambassador of Mexico. Frequently in demand as guest conductor, Alondra de la Parra has led more than 70 orchestras around the globe including some of the most prestigious orchestras of France, Germany, USA, Japan, Brazil, Sweden and Russia including the Orchestre de Paris, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, RSB Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra and Milan’s Cameristi della Scala.

“It is a great honour to be chosen as the first Music Director of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, and a dream come true for me,” said Ms de la Parra. “The QSO is an innovative arts company, with a great vibrancy and outstanding musicality. I am truly excited to take on this new role and return to Queensland – earlier in the year I had the pleasure of working closely with the QSO musicians and team, performing and creating and I know that all the ingredients are there for us to build an exciting future together!”

Born in New York City in 1980, de la Parra moved to Mexico with her parents at age two. She began playing the piano at age seven and the cello at 13; and it was then she decided she wanted to become a conductor.

She returned to Mexico City and studied composition at the Centre of Research and Musical Studies (CIEM). She moved to New York City at age 19 and attended the Manhattan School of Music where she became recipient of the Presser Scholarship. There, she obtained her BM in piano performance with Jeffrey Cohen and her Masters degree in Orchestra Conducting with Kenneth Kiesler, both with the highest honours.

In 2004 at age 23 Alondra de la Parra founded the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas (POA). Her mission was to create an orchestra that would serve as a platform to showcase young performers and composers of the Americas. With POA de la Parra recorded her debut Album “Mi Alma Mexicana” – the album was amongst the top 10 on the US Billboard Classical Chart and was the first classical recording in more than a decade to earn Platinum Record Status in Mexico in less than two months. Her recording projects also include the most recent Sony Classical release of the piano and orchestra works by Stravinsky with the RSB Berlin Symphony Orchestra and Alexej Gorlatch as well as two albums with the Sao Paolo State Symphony featuring Brazilian Symphonic works.

She is an avid supporter of education programs across the world and brings to QSO a heightened sense of community engagement and responsibility. Ms de la Parra has been recently appointed as one of 11 people selected internationally as Patrons of the Arts 2015 by the Cultural Foundation of Montblanc which recognizes the major drivers of the arts in specific regions of the planet; this award will allow her to help young talent to continue their development and showcase their musical artistic potential. She has collaborated with artists including Geoffrey Rush and Robert Redford, filmmaker Michel Gondry, choreographer Christopher Wheeldon and musicians such as Plácido Domingo, Pinchas Zukerman, Joshua Bell, Sarah Chang, Gustavo Santaolalla and Gloria Estefan, among others.

Ms de la Parra joins QSO as the company continues to achieve important national and global milestones. Queensland Symphony Orchestra is one of Australia’s three major orchestras. It is the largest performing arts company in Queensland and the only state orchestra, employing 88 full-time musicians year-round.

When Ms de la Parra commences as Music Director in 2017, in the orchestra’s 70thanniversary year, she will follow in the footsteps of a long lineage of extraordinary artists that have performed with QSO, including from the past, Otto Klemperer, Sir John Barbirolli, Isaac Stern, Yehudi Menuhin, Mstislav Rostropovich, Jacqueline du Pré, Daniel Barenboim, Sir Neville Marriner, Muhai Tang and Vladimir Ashkenazy. More recent guest artists appearing with QSO include Pinchas Zukerman, Simone Young, Mischa Maisky and soon Maxim Vengerov, Lang Lang and Yu Long.

Under the stewardship of Ms Galaise, the QSO has celebrated significant revenue records, has grown its reach to more than 1.1 million people and has staged artistic coups with some of the world’s leading conductors and soloists. The company is in great artistic and financial health, and is building a reputation for staging record-breaking non-traditional blockbuster events, most recently the world premiere ofJourney Through the Cosmos starring Professor Brian Cox. This track record has attracted great artists eager to work with QSO; the orchestra has received offers to tour nationally and internationally, and is crafting exciting collaborations with BBC World, the London Philharmonic and other leading orchestras in Asia, North America and Europe.