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Interview with Amarillo Symphony's New Conductor

John Graham

The Amarillo Symphony last week announced Jacomo Rafael Bairos as its new musical director.  I sat down with the new conductor to ask him about his influences and his vision for the symphony.

The selection of Bairos as the new director comes after a two-year search process involving over 200 applicants.  A search committee whittled down the applicants to three finalists, who each programmed and conducted two concerts with the symphony last season as a portion of the selection process.

Originally a concert tubist, Bairos comes to Amarillo from Charlotte, N.C., where he was associate and guest conductor of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra.  He transitioned from a career as a performer into an aspiring conductor as principal tubist at the Singapore Symphony after being discovered by educator Gustav Meier.

Newly composed music and transformation of the orchestral experience play big roles in how Bairos sees the future of the symphony.  His plans include bringing music of living American composers into concerts next to the classical works you might expect.

"Some of this new music is so catchy and so user-friendly and so wonderful that I've been just amazed the reception it receives where I go with it." –-Bairos speaks about music by living composers.

"Not only are we cherishing our past, but we have to push forward.  At some point in time, Beethoven was premiered," Bairos says, highlighting his view of the importance of new composers to classical music today.

Bairos also wants to include elements of other art forms and mediums into the orchestra's performances this season, including integrating lighting and technology.

"Orchestras have to understand if they want to be viable in the 21st century, they have to get on board with these types of collaborations," Bairos says, referring to past experiences bringing dancers and video into the concert hall.  By incorporating multi-media and multi-experiential collaboration into the symphony's performances, he hopes to attract people to the symphony who would not normally find themselves at a concert.

The Amarillo Symphony begins its 89th season with Bairos on the podium September 20 with a program titled "Innovators."