Saturday, July 13, 2013

July 13: Venezuelan-born conductor, Natalia Luis-Bassa, is 47-years-old today.

Natalia Luis-Bassa was born July 13, 1966, Caracas, Venezuela. With her two sisters, she grew up in a house filled with music. Her father, Germinal, was born in Barcelona, Spain. As a child, during the Spanish Civil War, he had to escape from Barcelona and went to France, the United States, Argentina and finally Venezuela where he married Lillian, a Venezuelan whose parents were Spanish. Both of them are opera and zarzuela lovers.

Natalia now lives and works in England; she lives in West Yorkshire, the "Last of the Summer Wine" county, and is Musical Director of the Haffner Orchestra in Lancaster and the Hallam Sinfonia in Sheffield.

Since winning the second prize at the Maazel-Vilar Conductor's Competition in New York, she has worked both in the United Kingdom and abroad with orchestras including the Orquesta Sinfónica Venezuela, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Paragon Ensemble, Bombay Chamber Orchestra, Filamónica Nacional, and Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela and the National Children's Orchestra of Great Britain where she is now a conducting tutor.

Natalia studied oboe with the world famous El Sistema foundation in her native Venezuela. She read music at the University Institute of Musical Studies (IUDEM), an institution that belongs to the Venezuelan musical system, being the first person to obtain a degree in Orchestral Conducting in her native country. She was appointed music director of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Falcón and completed her studies at the Royal College of Music in London, holding the RCM Junior Fellowship in Opera Conducting for two years. Natalia holds a Master's Degree from The University of Huddersfield where she is a part-time lecturer and has been appointed Elgar Ambassador.

In August 2008 Luis-Bassa appeared in the reality TV talent show-themed television series, Maestro on BBC Two, as a mentor to David Soul. The Royal College of Music has appointed Natalia as a Professor of Conducting alongside Maestro Peter Stark and pursuing her Doctorate studies.

Natalia also works with the National Children's Orchestra of Great Britain, conducting the London Regionals and runs the Conductor's Course. She also conducted the Main Orchestra playing Danzon No. 2 by Arturo Márquez in the Summer Concert of 2011, and she is renowned among the NCO for her flamboyant conducting.

On Nov 13, 2010, she walked out of a rehearsal and did not return, forcing three members to step in and take over the baton at a concert that evening at Huddersfield Town Hall. Luis-Bassa, who has worked with the orchestra for seven years, declared that her health was beginning to suffer as certain members increasingly questioned her judgment.

She said that at least one member of the orchestra would have to be removed before she would consider returning. At the time she said: "There are members who disrespect me as a person, a conductor and music-maker."


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