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Resounds: Rafael Aguirre, François López-Ferrer

Anna Paige
From left: François López-Ferrer, assistant conductor for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and Rafael Aguirre, a guitarist based in Madrid who made his American orchestral debut with The Billings Symphony

Rafael Aguirre is an internationally acclaimed musician whose deep understanding of music, dazzling virtuosity, and immensely diverse repertoire has taken him to 37 countries. He has an extensive repertoire, with more than 30 concertos for guitar and orchestra and made his debut with an American orchestra with the Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale in October 2021.

That concert was under the baton of François López-Ferrer, a guest conductor that joined the Billings Symphony as part of their salute to extraordinary places featuring music by Spanish composers, including Joaquín Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez, one of the most famous melodies of classical music. François is the associate Conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

Rafael Aguirre’s extraordinary career was marked by winning thirteen first prizes at international competitions (including the Tarrega Competition and Pro Musicis, New York). He is currently one of the most celebrated guitarists worldwide.

At the age of 16, he made his orchestral debut with the Concierto de Aranjuez and the Malaga Youth Symphony Orchestra touring Spain and Morocco.

Rafael performs regularly in prestigious venues, including Carnegie Hall in New York, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Vienna Konzerthaus, Moscow Tchaikovsky Hall, and concert halls around the world.

His debut at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland performing Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, with the Verbier Chamber Orchestra was broadcast by, and is the most viewed video on their Facebook page, which gained over 3 million views in just twelve months.

Following in the classical tradition of Andrés Segovia and Narciso Yepes, Rafael Aguirre additionally seeks to expand and innovate in the repertoire of his instrument, incorporating music from different styles, such as flamenco, chamber music, pop, film music, or Spanish and Latin American folk music.

His collaborations with contemporary composers have given him the opportunity to premier works by Sergio Assad (Grammy Award winner), Joaquín Clerch, and Daniel Real, among others.

Rafael currently lives in Madrid.

François López-Ferrer is currently the 2021-22 Dudamel Fellow at the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Associate Conductor for the Cincinnati Symphony.

Spanish-American conductor López-Ferrer came to international attention after a critically acclaimed debut at the 2018 Verbier Festival, where he jumped in for Iván Fischer in a shared program with Sir Simon Rattle and Gébor Takécs-Nagy.

In demand as a guest conductor, López-Ferrer’s recent and upcoming highlights include debuts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Orquesta Nacional de España, and orchestra throughout Europe and Latin America. Francois follows in his father’s footsteps, the late Jesús López-Cobos, who served as Music Director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

Corby Skinner is an independent marketing professional with an enormous capacity for assessing issues and creating positive, effective messages.
Anna Paige is a Montana-based journalist, poet and educator. She is originally from Wyoming and has lived in Billings for more than a decade, where she co-founded Young Poets, winner of the 2021 Library of Congress Award for Literacy.