Entering his sixteenth season as Music Director, José-Luis Novo is the longest-serving music director in the history of the Symphony. Since his appointment in 2005, Novo has instilled a new and vibrant artistic vision. His continuous drive for artistic excellence, innovative thematic programming, and collaborations with some of today’s most respected guest artists, have resulted in unprecedented artistic growth, praising audiences, and enthusiastic reviews.
Highlights from Novo’s tenure include three appearances at The Music Center at Strathmore with the Annapolis Symphony and guest artists Lynn Harrell (cello), James Ehnes (violin), and Manuel Barrueco (guitar); a 2012 appearance at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center with world-renowned mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves for the Symphony’s 50th Anniversary Gala Concert; a 2008 ASCAP Adventurous Programming Award; a national broadcast on NPR’s Performance Today; and the launching of the Symphony’s first commercial recording commemorating the 300th anniversary of the signing of the Annapolis Royal Charter.
From 2005-2007, the League of American Orchestras recognized the Symphony’s potential, under Novo’s leadership, and selected it nationwide as one of only five participants in the Institutional Vision Leadership Initiative two-year seminar.
A committed advocate of contemporary music, Maestro Novo has worked with some of today’s foremost composers and has led eighteen orchestral world premieres, many of which were commissioned through his own initiative. In the operatic field, he made his debut conducting a production of Smetana’s The Bartered Bride in collaboration with the late Maestro Julius Rudel and subsequently has conducted productions of Britten’s Albert Herring, Menotti’s Old Maid and the Thief, and Vaughan Williams’ Riders to the Sea.
In addition to his leadership of the Annapolis Symphony, Novo recently concluded an impressive thirteen-year tenure as Music Director of the Binghamton Philharmonic in New York State. Prior to these appointments, he served as Assistant Conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra under the director of both late Music Director Emeritus Jesús López-Cobos and former Music Director Paavo Järvi, and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra under the late Erich Kunzel.
Prior guest conducting engagements have included, among others, appearances with the Symphony Silicon Valley, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Syracuse, Modesto, Tulsa, Windsor, Stamford, and Tallahassee Symphonies; the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra; the Cleveland and Abilene Philharmonics; the Tenerife, Principado de Asturias, and Castilla y León Symphony Orchestras; the City of Granada Orchestra; the Andrés Segovia Chamber Orchestra at the National Auditorium in Madrid, the Vallés Symphony Orchestra at the Palau de la Música in Barcelona, and the Echternach Festival Orchestra at the Kennedy Center and on tour in Luxembourg and Germany.
Novo began his musical studies at the conservatory of Valladolid—his hometown— obtaining the degree of Profesor Superior de Violín with honors in solfege, harmony, and violin. A scholarship from the Spanish Ministry of Culture allowed him to continue his studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Brussels, where he earned a First Prize in violin.
In 1988, he came to the United States as a Fulbright Scholar, obtaining both Master of Music and Master of Musical Arts degrees from Yale University, where he was also bestowed the Frances G. Wickes Award and the Yale School of Music Alumni Association Prize. In 1992, the Spanish foundation La Caixa awarded him a fellowship to study at the Cleveland Institute of Music where he completed a Master of Music degree in orchestral conducting. He concluded his conducting studies at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. His conducting teachers have included Gerhard Samuel, Carl Topilow, Louis Lane, Edmon Colomer, James Ross, and Charles Bruck (at the Pierre Monteux School in Maine). Additionally, Novo has attended seminars and master classes with Günther Herbig, Lorin Maazel, Christoph von Dohnänyi, Leonard Slatkin, Larry Rachleff, Daniel Lewis, and Victor Yampolsky.
As a violinist, Novo has appeared in concerts and recitals in Europe and in the United States and has made recordings for the Spanish and Norwegian National Radios. He was a founding member of several important ensembles in which he held leading positions: as concertmaster and soloist with the Youth Chamber Orchestra of Spain, as principal second violin of the New Amsterdam Sinfonietta, and as concertmaster of the National Youth Orchestra of Spain.
Novo was featured in the League of American Orchestra’s Symphony magazine in “Podium Powers,” an article about emerging Hispanic conductors in the United States. He is the recipient of a 2010 Annie Award in Performing Arts from the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County and a 2005 Broome County Arts Council Heart of the Arts Award.