Andres Franco • From Central Europe

South American Musical Director to Appear with the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra on March 19th as Part of Their 2016 Guest Conductor Series

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Local Music,   From Issue 823   By: Robert E Martin

25th February, 2016     0

Recently named Music Director of the Signature Symphony in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Andres Franco has established himself as a conductor to watch, which is why it is particularly exciting to see him coming to Saginaw to assume the helm for the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra, as he leads them through a musical excursion entitled From Central Europe, which will be presented on Saturday, March 19th at 8 PM at The Temple Theatre.

Including selections ranging from Stauss’ Gypsy Baron, Ligeti’s Concert Romanese, Kodaly’s Dance’s of Galanta and Brahm’s Symphony No. 4, Andres Franco is currently in his fifth season as Principal Conductor of Caminos del Inka and his third season as Artistic Director of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra’s Summer Festival, Concerts in the Garden.

A frequent guest conductor in the U.S., Europe and South America, Mr. Franco has appeared with the Orquesta Sinfonica de Castilla y Leon in Spain, the National Symphony Orchestra of Peru, as well as with the EAFIT Symphony Orchestra in Colombia. He has also been a guest conductor at the Oregon Bach Festival and the Wintergreen Music Festival in Virginia.

Mr. Franco holds a bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance from the Pontifica Universidad Javeeriana in Bogota, Colombia, as well as master of music degrees in Piano Performance and Conducting from Texas Christian University. He currently lives in Fort Worth, Texas, with his wife Victoria Lupen, Principal Clarinetist of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.

As part of our series on the various conductors that the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra is bringing into our region for their 2016 season as they continue upon their search for a permanent Musical Director, recently The Review caught up with Mr. Franco do discuss both his background and the program that he has cultivated for his upcoming March 19th performance with the orchestra at Saginaw’s Temple Theatre.

Review:   Please explain your background in terms of how you became interested in classical music and how cultivating that interest led to your current involvement today. 

Andres Franco:  I was born in a musical family. My uncles and aunts would bring their guitars to family gatherings and sing. There were pianos in both my grandparents’ homes, as well as at my home. I started playing the piano for fun as a child, and when I was 5 or 6 my father Jorge taught me a couple of pieces from the “Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach”. 

Eventually I started taking formal piano lessons from my uncle Fernando who is a pianist, composer, and recording engineer. My father and uncle were both interested in ethnomusicology. They travelled through Colombia, my country of birth, with a little tape recorder documenting the music of the diverse communities. They are both classically trained musicians and run an Academy where music, theater, dance, and the visual arts were taught. I grew up listening to all types of music from jazz and rock, to folk and classical. I remember fondly attending the local symphony’s concerts with my parents and falling in love with orchestral music. By the time I finished high school it was clear I wanted to be a musician. It was a very natural process.

Review:  How did you go about selecting the compositions and developing the theme for 'From Central Europe' that you will be showcasing in the March 19th performance with the SBSO?

Franco:  Central Europe has played a very important role in the history of music, with Vienna as its epicenter. It is the city of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, but it is also a musical and cultural melting pot.

In the first half of the concert we will hear music influenced and inspired by Gypsy (Roma), Hungarian, and Romanian folk music, which is the kind of music you could hear on the street in Vienna. The second half is dedicated to Brahms, Beethoven’s musical heir. Brahms lived in Vienna as an adult, and loved folk music.  I guess because of my upbringing I always enjoy finding connections between different styles of music.

Review:  How do you go about translating these works with the orchestra and what do you feel your role is as a conductor when rendering these works?

Franco:  I usually start with the score. But music is not created in a vacuum, so I also go beyond the score and learn as much as possible about the composers, the time when they lived, the arts, literature, philosophy, etc. Then I try to communicate my ideas primarily through my physical gestures, with occasional verbal instructions. You would be surprised how much one can convey without talking at all!

In rehearsals I seek to develop a sense of trust with the musicians, while always leaving room for fresh, spur of the moment music making.  To me performing with an orchestra is like performing chamber music in a larger scale -  everybody brings something to the table, and my role is to focus and shape the group’s ideas.

We attend live performances because of that special energy created by the musicians and the audience in that particular moment, and that cannot be replicated at any other time. Ultimately, my role as a conductor is to create the right conditions for that to happen.

Review: What do you feel is the most challenging component involved with structuring thematic shows of this nature?

Franco:  One of the challenges of programming is striking the balance between diversity and cohesiveness. One wants to keep the program interesting and connected. I particularly enjoy creating programs that feature well-known pieces the audience loves, along with new pieces I know the audience will enjoy. When I program, there is nothing more rewarding than having people tell me they found a new favorite piece in my concert.

Review:  What are some of the professional goals & highlights of your career thus far?

Franco:  My professional goal has always been to share my passion and love for music, and I have been very lucky to be able to do so with many wonderful orchestras.

I always try to find that special moment, that goose-bump moment in each concert I conduct. Every time we, the musicians and audience, find the magic of live music is a highlight for me. I look forward to creating memories with the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra in a few weeks!

Andres Franco & the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra’s performance of ‘From Central Europe’ is happening on Saturday, March 19th at Saginaw’s Temple Theatre at 8 PM. For tickets you can phone 989-754-SHOW or visit the SBSO website at


Please login to comment



Current Issue


Don't have an account?