Jose Antonio Espinal
Artistic Director Jose Antonio Espinal Biography
Pianist, orchestral and choral conductor, Mr. Espinal has been recognized as one of the most talented young conductors, pianists and musicians in his native country of Mexico . Jose Antonio Espinal has received many international recognitions, awards and artistic grants. He has been a recipient of the prestigious Conductor’s Award given by Mexico ‘s National Endowment for the Arts and Culture with an Annual Grant in 1996-1997 and again, for the second time, in 2000-2001.
Mr. Espinal founded the OPERA COMPANY OF ATIZAPAN fully sponsored by the Government on January 2001. He was awarded with a Grant given by the FONDARTE (National Endowments for the Arts) for recording a CD with works by American and Latin American composers, while working on his master degree in conducting, at Carnegie Mellon University. Mr. Espinal worked as a member of the Piano Faculty at the Mexico ‘s National Conservatory of Music from 1989 to 1996, becoming the youngest teacher ever in the prestigious institution.
As a pianist, he has performed Mozart’s #21 Piano Concerto with the Teocuicani Symphony Youth Orchestra (Mexico City), the National Conservatory Symphony Orchestra, and the Veracruz Symphony Orchestra (playing Beethoven’s “Choral Fantasy for Piano, Choir, Soloists and Orchestra).
Mr. Espinal made his Conducting Debut, with the Carlos Chavez Symphony Orchestra in 1993. His Opera debut took place in 1994, conducting Verdi’s “La Traviatta.”
Antonio Espinal holds a Bachelor Degree in Piano with Honors (Summa Cum Laude) from the National University Of Mexico (Unam), and a Bachelor Degree in Orchestral Conducting from the National Conservatory of Mexico. He received his Master Degree (MFA) in Orchestral and Choral conducting in the year 2000 from Carnegie Mellon University , where he studied under Juan Pablo Izquierdo (Orchestral) and the legendary Dr. Robert Page (Choral Conducting). During these three years, he was the recipient of the prestigious Andrew Carnegie Scholarship.
Mr. Espinal moved to Los Angeles when he was invited to work with Maestro Esa-Pekka Salonen as his Apprentice in 2000. He is also a regular guest conductor for orchestras in Mexico.
In November 2004, Mr. Espinal was appointed Music Director of the Spanish Choir at the CATHEDRAL OF OUR LADY OF THE ANGELS.
Maestro Espinal is now working on establishing an International Children’s Choir Festival in AGUASCALIENTES (one of the most important colonial cities in Mexico), in collaboration with the Government of Aguascalientes, through the Instituto de Cultura de Aguascalientes. The first edition of the Festival took place in July 2010, with Antonio Espinal as an ARTISTIC DIRECTOR of the Festival, conducting the final concert with the AGUASCALIENTES SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA.
Mr. Espinal was granted a Permanent Resident Visa as an “artist of extraordinary abilities” in the year 2007 for his contributions to the development of the arts and his work with the youth in his new home, Los Angeles . These contributions were more than evident when he reached extraordinary achievements in few years with his own organization: HARMONIES GIRLS CHOIR.
During his position as Dean of the St. Thomas School Of Sacred Music,(2002-2005) he founded an all-girls choir: HARMONIES OF ST THOMAS. After leaving his position at St. Thomas, the choir became an independent choral group (Mr. Espinal’s own choir) and changed its name to HARMONIES GIRLS CHOIR. Los Angeles has become the place to expand his musical activities since then, becoming an indispensable “cultural ambassador” of the City. Not only have his personal achievements been widely recognized, but his talents as an educator and “discoverer” of new talents in the Angeleno Youth have been internationally admired, since he has toured internationally eight times to Mexico and Europe with Harmonies Girls Choir.
Part of his mission as a “cultural ambassador” involves his new project: bringing the best of the arts from Mexico to the USA. Mr. Espinal’s vision for the group is to expand the girls’ minds through musical excellence and unique experiences created through international trips. During the summer of 2004, the choir embarked on its first international trip to Germany, participating at the Pueri Cantores Festival. On December 10 th 2004, Espinal was honored by the City Of Los Angeles, for his work with the community of Los Angeles and his work with children.
Harmonies Girls Choir has achieved an excellent level of musicality. The choir was met with enormous success when it toured Mexico, Austria, and the Czech Republic during the summer of 2006 (14 concerts in total) with rave reviews. The Austrian tour celebrated Mozartís 250th anniversary. The tour included a full Gala Concert with an orchestra, which Mr. Espinal as a conducted..
Mr. Espinal’s Girls Choir has been selected to perform at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on December 24th for 5 consecutive years to participate in the L.A. COUNTY HOLIDAY CELEBRATION
Mr. Espinal is strongly committed to promoting music by rarely heard composers, with special attention being paid to Latin American composers, along with classical music. The quality of the sound of HARMONIES and its repertory has been extensively recognized, in newspapers like La Opinion, Vida Nueva, Impulso, El Sol De Orizaba (Mexico), Bad Neustadt (Germany), etc.
His group HARMONIES GIRLS CHOIR was professionally hired to perform at the prestigious FESTIVAL-DE-SAINT-DENIS, in Paris, France on June 18 and 19, 2007. The choir was met with great acclaim from the audience with a standing ovation and received enthusiastic reviews from the critics. The concert was broadcasted nationally on RADIO FRANCE .At the Festival de Saint-Denis, Mr. Espinal presented an all-Mexican-Californian music program, which included music from the Mexican baroque era to music from the Mission of California to the premieres of music by composer and organist Christoph Bull (professor at UCLA) and music by film composer Joseph-Julian Gonzalez. The French critics praised the music selection for its originality and “Mr. Espinal’s human and gentle conducting”. The concert was a great success in a sold-out event at the magnificent Cathedral de Saint-Denis .
Previous to his work in the USA, Maestro Espinal worked for 12 years at the National Opera Company of Mexico. He worked as a Vocal Coach, Opera Accompanist (Repetiteur), Stage Manager, and Band and Choir Conductor at the National Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio Nacional de las Bellas Artes) from 1991 to 2002, when he resigned to move to Los Angeles.
Mr. Espinal has conducted the most important major orchestras in Mexico, including the Symphony Orchestra of Veracruz , Symphony of Querétaro , the Classical Orchestra of Orizaba, and the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico. In the USA, he has conducted the Carnegie Mellon Orchestra (in Pittsburgh, as an assistant conductor), the Contemporary Ensemble of Mexico (first performing works by Esa-Pekka Salonen, in Mexico City ) and the members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic ensemble with Harmonies Girls Choir, conducting a premiere of a commisioned work by Joseph-Julian Gonzalez (“Sanctus” from his major work “Misa Azteca”)
His future presentations include projects conducting Operas in his native Mexico along with giving recitals as an accompanist with Opera singers in Mexico, USA and Europe.