Latina conductor Lina González-Granados is set to make her Opera Philadelphia debut
She spoke with AL DÍA to discuss her journey and just what her impending debut means to her as one of the very few Latinas in this industry.
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It was at a very young age that Lina González-Granados fell in love with music.
Music was all around her as she’d often take part in choruses and folkloric groups in her native of Cali, Colombia.
“And then I got introduced to piano,” González-Granados said during an interview with AL DÍA.
That instrument became her muse.
Little by little, she’d immerse herself more into music, eventually deciding to look into it as a potential career path.
After initially attending college in her home city, she soon realized that Bogotá would likely present her with more opportunities.
While living in Colombia’s capital, she also changed her major from piano to both piano and conducting.
“I started realizing that I really didn’t want to be a pianist, I wanted to do something more,” she said.
González-Granados made her conducting debut in 2008 with the Youth Orchestra of Bellas Artes.
“I started conducting choruses and bands and whatever was in front of me, and once Colombia got a little bit smaller and I saw an opportunity, I moved,” González-Granados added.
Arriving to the United States
Already getting her feet wet as a conductor, González-Granados committed herself to more.
A couple of years after her conducting debut, she moved from Colombia to New York, where she was a student at the prestigious Julliard School.
Moving to a new country was, as she described, “thrilling, exciting, and extraordinarily hard.”
However, she remained determined to succeed.
Only living in New York for a year, González-Granados would later move to Boston, where she settled for over a decade.
While in Boston, she earned a master’s degree in conducting and a graduate diploma in choral conducting from the New England Conservatory of Music. González-Granados then earned a doctorate of music arts in orchestral conducting from Boston University.
“That was the most amazing experience,” she said about her time in Boston.
During those years, González-Granados started to distinguish herself as one of the rising stars in the conducting arena, both nationally and internationally.
As a Latina conductor — one of a small number in this space — González-Granados has often used her platform to highlight new and unknown works by Latin-American composers.
New Life in Philadelphia
Since 2021, González-Granados has been based in Philadelphia.
Last summer, she was appointed as resident conductor by the LA Opera, a position she will hold for three years.
She had also previously held positions as conducting fellow of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Seattle Symphony.
On Feb. 3, 2023, Opera Philadelphia Chorus and Orchestra will be returning to the Academy of Music stage. Nearly 200 performers are expected to attend.
On that day, González-Granados will be making her Opera Philadelphia conducting debut.
“This is a huge debut for me because it’s the Academy of Music,” González-Granados said about what it means to her.
“It’s the place where very notable conductors have made their home, and to be able to step into that — which is so full of history — and make a contribution to the fabric of the city culturally, is very meaningful to me.”
González-Granados will conducting two concerts — Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana and Margaret Bonds’ Credo. The two are on opposite sides of the spectrum, as the former is one of classical music’s most recognizable choral works, while the latter is a rarely performed masterpiece.
Opera Philadelphia commends Carmina Burana for capturing the audience’s attention.
“It is a kaleidoscopic piece that demands to be heard live, as thundering cries on the fickleness of fortune transform into lifting celebrations of spring and raucous drinking songs,” it writes.
The fact that it’s a widely-known and recognized piece, González-Granados is looking forward to conducting it.
Credo — a setting of a prose poem by W.E.B. Du Bois is described as “an affirmation of racial justice, peace, and Black pride” that “matches DuBois’ reverent words with Bonds’ ingenious orchestration and powerful melodic language.”
González-Granados noted she is privileged to be the conductor for a piece of this nature “in the climate of today, where we are opening the conversation for minorities to really be seen, heard, and valued equally,” she said.
As she looks back on her conducting career — while also looking ahead to the future, if there is one thing that brings the most joy and fulfillment, it’s the ability to connect with others.
“It’s always very profound and philosophical when you conduct, but for me, when you can be more in contact with the community, those are the moments that I feel that my job is doing something,” González-Granados said.
That is her goal as she makes her imminent Opera Philadelphia debut.