Music Director & Conductor: Empire State Youth Orchestra
Representation: General Management
Photo: Anne-Marie Gorman Doyle
Colombian conductor and composer Carlos Ágreda is Music Director of the Empire State Youth Orchestra who first came to international attention when he reached the third round in the Cadaqués Orchestra International Conducting Competition. He has since collaborated with orchestras such as the BBC Philharmonic, Manchester Camerata, Curtis Symphony Orchestra, Liverpool Mozart Orchestra and Opera Philadelphia. As a composer, Ágreda has won several prizes, with many of his works performed by leading orchestras in Colombia. An advocate of new music he has programmed and performed works by contemporary composers at London’s Wigmore Hall and Cabrillo Contemporary Music Festival. Ágreda was formerly a Conducting Fellow at the Curtis Institute of Music under the mentorship of Yannick Nézet-Séguin and studied at the Royal Northern College of Music.
Described as “a major career in the making” by Seen and Heard International, Colombian conductor and composer Carlos Ágreda is noted for his dynamic presence on the podium and breadth of repertoire, with musical interests ranging from opera and choral to contemporary and Latin-American music. Currently Music Director and Conductor of the Empire State Youth Orchestra, Ágreda was formerly a Conducting Fellow at the Curtis Institute of Music under the mentorship of Yannick Nézet-Séguin. He was also previously the Music Director at Corporación Coral y Orquestal de Colombia.
Ágreda first came to international attention when he reached the third round in the Cadaqués Orchestra International Conducting Competition in 2013 at the age of 22, the youngest of the short-listed candidates. Since then, he has worked with the BBC Philharmonic, Manchester Camerata, Curtis Symphony and Liverpool Mozart Orchestras amongst others and has conducted a number of fully-staged opera productions with Opera Philadelphia and Curtis Opera Theatre. Last season he returned to the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Colombia as well as conducting the Orquesta Filarmónica de Medellín and Filarmonía Xalapa. This season is his second as Music Director with the Empire State Youth Orchestra.
An advocate of new music, Ágreda has conducted more than thirty world premieres. Particular highlights have included a concert of new works by British composer Jonathan Harvey at London’s Wigmore Hall and an appearance at the New Music North West Festival in 2016. He was invited to lead the Conducting Workshop at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival 2016 and in 2017 joined the Cabrillo Contemporary Music Festival as Conducting Fellow. As assistant conductor, Ágreda has worked alongside internationally renowned names such as Juanjo Mena, Peter Oundjian, Yan Pascal Tortelier, David Robertson, Leonard Slatkin, Jon Storgårds and Sir Mark Elder with orchestras such as the St. Louis and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestras, and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also collaborated professionally with Sir Andrew Davis, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, and Osmo Vänskä and has been invited to participate in many high-profile masterclasses with Stéphane Denève, Vasily Petrenko, Cristian Măcelaru and Michael Tilson Thomas, to name a few.
Ágreda is passionate about social transformation through art and community education, as well as the power of symphonic music to bring young people together. He has been involved in projects with Play on Philly (POP) and All City Orchestra in Philadelphia, Stockport Youth Orchestra in the UK and the Orquesta Unimúsica in Colombia. He was also the Music Director of the community ‘Project 40×40’, at Bogotá City Hall inspired by El Sistema in collaboration with the Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá.
Born in Bogotá, Colombia, Ágreda studied conducting and composition at the Juan N. Corpas University under the mentorship of Jorge Alejandro Salazar, graduating with summa cum laude honours in 2012. He continued his conducting studies at the Royal Northern College of Music on the prestigious Master’s programme under the tutelage of Clark Rundell and Mark Heron, graduating with distinction in 2016 before taking up a Conducting Fellowship at the Curtis Institute of Music. As a composer, Ágreda has won several prizes, including First Prize for both the Stockport Youth Orchestra Composition Competition (2016) and the Gustavo Gómez Ardila Composition Competition (2012). Several of his compositions have been performed by the leading professional orchestras in Colombia.
“Conducting fellow Carlos Ágreda led a complex and intelligent performance from the pit… . He balanced the incongruities in Weill’s score with aplomb and treated Menotti’s music with the sensitivity and respect it deserves… . Ágreda is a name we’ll hear for years to come.”