It has been 10 years since Sir Colin Davis mentored Josep Caballé-Domenech – they were the inaugural music pairing of the Rolex Arts Initiative. Then, Caballé-Domenech was a young, promising and fiery conductor. In the decade since, he has achieved a global reputation for his passion and his insightful interpretations, eliciting a lush sound from the dozens of orchestras he has conducted on several continents. He is about to add to his discography; in June Onyx Classics will release his new CD with the Royal Philharmonic. It includes Respighi’s Roman Trilogy: Fontane di Roma - Fountains of Rome, Pini di Roma - Pines of Rome and Feste Romane - Roman Festivals.
Caballé-Domenech says he finds his powerful and communicative energy in the music itself: “You put your energy in it and the music gives it back.” He loves to share his zeal with the musicians he conducts, and feels rewarded by the exchange. “Often, there is more interaction, more to learn from musicians than from other conductors. And of course, the more you give, the more they give to you.”
Caballé-Domenech conducts a 2010 rehearsal with the Recreation Orchestra Graz of Austria.
© Photowerk.at, Werner Kmetitsch
A review of a recent performance with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic indicates the force of the former protégé’s talent:
Lightning struck Saturday night when Josep Caballé-Domenech appeared as guest conductor with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic. The Spanish maestro was not originally one of the finalists for the position of music director – he was appearing in place of the ailing Lawrence Leighton Smith. But at this week’s rehearsals, he made such a powerful impression on the musicians that they requested he be considered as a sixth candidate. It’s no mystery why…the musicians responded to him with a performance that’s rarely been equalled in Colorado Springs. (Read the article here)
On 21 May 2011, it was announced that Caballé-Domenech would succeed Lawrence Leighton Smith as musical director of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic. This position takes Caballé-Domenech to a new level in his highly successful journey through the world of classical music. For the past 12 years he has been a guest conductor for many leading orchestras, a work that has brought him much joy and many lessons.
“I’m experienced and at the same time still young enough to learn. I’m enjoying it a lot,” he says in a recent interview, and adds: “I’m very lucky in this difficult period for the arts.” His broad repertoire has offered many opportunities to conduct, whether it has been symphonic works, bel canto, contemporary music or operas – and now he is ready to settle down with one orchestra.
Caballé-Domenech enjoys having a trusted colleague in Sir Colin Davis with whom to discuss projects. He remains in contact with his former mentor by phone and occasional visits. Most recently, Sir Colin Davis gave a concert in Barcelona and both artists met on this occasion.
“One of the things I talked a lot about with Sir Colin Davis is the difference between orchestras and the different kinds of problems arising from the same piece.”
Caballé-Domenech reflects that he still uses many aspects of what he learned during his mentorship with Sir Colin. “In our profession, we put everything we learn into our ‘bag’ and take it out when needed.” He has impressed thousands with his enormous “bag of skills” at some recent guest appearances, including:
• Berner Symphonieorchester (Switzerland)
• Orquesta de RTVE (Spain)
• Houston Symphony (United States)
• San Antonio Symphony (United States)
• Colorado Springs Philharmonic (United States)
• Aspen Music Festival (United States)
• Orquesta Ciudad de Granada (Spain)
• Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (United Kingdom)
Ten years ago, Sir Colin Davis passed along his infectious love for opera to his protégé. A sampling of upcoming appearances demonstrates that Caballé-Domenech continues to delight in opera music:
• Bilbao Opera, Romeo et Juliette (Spain, 1-29 November 2011)
• Semperoper Dresden, Le Nozze di Figaro (Germany, September-October 2011 and June 2012)
• Komische Oper Berlin, Carmen (Germany, December 2011)
The Spanish conductor also stays in touch with other protégés he met in 2002. He appreciates that the programme continues to bring the protégés together, creating a community of artists that inspire one another. Someday, he hopes to collaborate with former Rolex protégée Selina Cartmell, a theatre director enthralled by opera.
A decade has not dimmed Caballé-Domenech’s regard for his time with Sir Colin Davis. “The Rolex mentorship has opened new doors I could not have opened alone. I have met so many influential people in the arts, like Lady Solti and Carlos Saura. What’s great is the way the programme takes you to another level.”