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Fronteras: ‘My instrument is the orchestra’ — Colombian-born conductor discusses her path to the podium

Women have slowly been making headway in the highly competitive, male-dominated field of classical music — including women conductors of color.

Colombian American conductor Lina González-Granados has led orchestras all across the world, including the Orquestra Sinfónica de Puerto Rico, the Atlanta Symphony, the New World Symphony and, most recently, the San Antonio Philharmonic.

Though she was born to a family of doctors and engineers, González-Granados’ journey to a fruitful career began in her hometown of Cali, Colombia.

She learned piano and sang as a child, and recalled a moment during a recital that drove her career path to the podium.

“I (had) this very powerful connection with the conductor, like (a) musical connection,” she said. “I was like, ‘This is exhilarating — the music making. I should be there because then I can be making music with everyone,’” she said.

In 2022, González-Grandos became the first Latina resident conductor of the LA Opera. She has been named in Bloomberg Línea’s 100 Influential Latinos, and won the 4th CSO Sir Georg Solti Conducting Competition and Apprenticeship

González-Grandos founded the Unitas Ensemble in Boston in 2014 to highlight the works of Latin American composers.

She said it’s important to integrate Latin America classical music into the standard orchestral repertoire.

“As Latinos, we have so many facets of ourselves, and one of them is classical music,” she said. “We have a very elevated, sophisticated classical music. So, sometimes I find it a tragedy that we are relegated only to the summer concerts or the concerts that are for dancing.”

See a video of González-Grandos conducting the Unitas Ensemble below:

Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1