20 (PLUS) QUESTIONS WITH: Conductor Pablo Heras-Casado

Classic Arts Features   20 (PLUS) QUESTIONS WITH: Conductor Pablo Heras-Casado
One of the hottest young conductors today, and known for his “astonishing flexibility and range as a conductor” (Wall Street Journal), Pablo Heras-Casado is the newly-appointed Principal Conductor of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s.


A native of Granada, Spain, Heras-Casado has been making headlines since his win – by unanimous vote – of the 2007 Lucerne Festival Conductors’ Competition. Since his 2008 U.S. debut at Carnegie Hall, he has brought his star power to performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, and the Berlin Philharmonic, to name but a few. Also active in the worlds of opera and ballet, he has conducted performances by the English and Welsh National Operas, the Teatro Real of Madrid, the Canadian Opera Company, and La Monnaie in Brussels, the Mariinsky in St Petersburg as well as the world premiere of Marc-Olivier Dupin’s ballet Les enfants du paradis for Opéra National de Paris.

In December 2011 Heras-Casado was awarded a Medal of Honor by the Rodriguez Acosta Foundation. 2012 highlights include performances with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at the Caramoor festival in July, as well as debuts with Bayerischer Rundfunk Munich, Concertgebouw Orchestra, Mahler Chamber Orchestra , Salzburg and Lucerne Festivals and L’elisir d’amore at the Baden-Baden Festpielehaus in June.

1. A few works of classical music that you adore:

Monteverdi’s Orfeo, Victoria’s “Tenebrae Responsories”, Mozart’s Nozze, Schumann 4, Verdi’s Macbeth, Berg’s Wozzeck, Debussy’s Jeux… should I stop?

2. Classical music recordings that you treasure:

Enrico Onofri’s “La voce nel violino,” Bach’s Missae breves with Cantus Köln, Brahms’ Piano Quartet with Trio Wanderer, Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra with Abbado.

3. Favorite non-classical musicians and/or recordings:

Esperanza Spalding, Enrique Morente, José Mercé, La Lupe, Goran Bregović, Wynton Marsalis

4. Music that makes you cry – any genre:

Depends on the moment and the mood… any great music.

5. Definitely underrated work(s) or composer (s):

Mendelssohn, Spanish Renaissance masters.

6. Possibly overrated work(s) or composer (s):

Some of the bel canto operas…

7. Live music performance (s) you attended – any genre – that you’ll never forget:

My first Fado experience in Lisbon, Mahler 2 in Berlin with BPO, Messiaen´s “Quatuor pour la fin du temps” in a small cemetery in the mountains.

8. A few relatively recent films you love:

Incendies; Amanece, que no es poco.

9. A few films you consider classics:

Les enfants du Paradis.

10. A book (or two) that is important to you (and why):

Cervantes’ “El Quijote” is the best book ever written: like the greatest art, it’s universal, sophisticated, intelligent, and simple and unpretentious (just read the preface!). I also really enjoy Lorca’s “Poeta en Nueva York,” wonderful poetry and a terrible critical vision of modern society; it’s sadly valid in our time.

11. Thing(s) about yourself that you’re most proud of:

I think I’m a good person.

12. Thing(s) about yourself that you’re embarrassed by:

No one needs to know that…!

13. Three things you can’t live without:

The sun, my family, and my iPhone!!

14. “When I want to get away from it all I…”

Go to Granada.

15. “People are surprised to find out that I…”

Don’t have a driver’s license, but I travel all over the world.

16. “My favorite cities are…”

Granada and New York (and sometimes Paris, Tokyo, Capileira, Bordeaux, Madrid, Toronto, Berlin…)

17. “I have a secret crush on…”

That’s a secret…!

18. “My most obvious guilty pleasure is…”

Cold beer after concerts.

19. “I’d really love to meet – or to have met…”

My grandfather Nicolás… before he died, I just started to understand how great that man was in his sublime simplicity.

20. “I never understood why…”

People don’t respect each other; your problems are not their fault (…in most cases).


21. Question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer to that question):

Q: Would you like another espresso?

A: Yes.

Past installments of 20 (PLUS) QUESTIONS:

Sir Andrew Davis

Countertenor Iestyn Davies

Opera Legend Marilyn Horne

Tenor Stephen Costello

Pianist Alexandre Tharaud

Tenor Jonas Kaufmann

Soprano Christine Brewer

Soprano Kate Royal

Baritone Paulo Szot

Baritone Nathan Gunn

Bass-Baritone John Relyea

Pianist Yuja Wang

Pianist Kirill Gerstein

Organist Cameron Carpenter

Choreographer Peter Martins

Soprano Diana Damrau

Pianist Simone Dinnerstein

Pianist David Fray

Violinist Sarah Chang

Pianist Ingrid Fliter

Mezzo-Soprano Joyce DiDonato

Pianist Yefim “Fima” Bronfman

Soprano Sandrine Piau

Soprano Natalie Dessay

Harpsichordist and Conductor Christophe Rousset

Guitarist Xuefei Yang

Tenor Giuseppe Filianoti

Soprano Nicole Cabell

Pianist Jonathan Biss

Tenor Ian Bostridge

Soprano Danielle de Niese

New-Music Sextet eighth blackbird

Composer and Violinist Mark O'Connor

Composer Jake Heggie

Composer Ricky Ian Gordon

Pianist David Greilsammer


Albert Imperato, a music promoter who co-founded 21C Media Group in January 2000, writes frequently about the arts for various publications and blogs. 

His new series, 20 (PLUS) QUESTIONS, is his take on (and nod to) Vanity Fair's "Proust Questionnaire." Email him at aimperato@21cmediagroup.com.

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