Frost student takes his talents to the Los Angeles Philharmonic

By Amanda M. Perez

Frost student takes his talents to the Los Angeles Philharmonic

By Amanda M. Perez
Camilo Téllez was selected to be a conducting fellow at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, giving him an opportunity to develop his craft and enrich his musical experience through the organization’s valued programs.

The U Creates continues a series focused on highlighting members of the University of Miami’s creative community. 

Camilo TéllezIn this Spotlight feature, meet Camillo Téllez, a first-year graduate student studying to receive his doctorate in Musical Arts in Orchestra Conducting at the Frost School of Music. Téllez is currently a conducting fellow at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, often referred to as LA Phil, one of the world’s most noteworthy orchestras. Téllez, who has had the opportunity to conduct in several countries around the world, explained how he wants to use his passion for music tospark social transformation. 

What inspires you to conduct? What do you love most about it? 

What I love most about conducting is being able to connect with both the people from the orchestra and the audience on a deep emotional level, which does not happen any other way. When I started my music career as a pianist, the symphonic music and the orchestral scores of Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart, Bartok, and Stravinsky immediately inspired me and sparked my creativity. The attractive and unique sound the orchestra plays in their pieces drew me to learn how to conduct. 

Tell me about your exciting opportunity with the LA Philharmonic. What does this mean to you personally? 

The LA Philharmonic recently appointed me as a Dudamel Conducting Fellow for their 2021-2022 season. It has given me the exciting opportunity to conduct with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Walt Disney Concert Hall where I have been able to learn from some of the best musicians in the industry by assisting Gustavo Dudamel, Michael Tilson Thomas, Sussana Malkki, and Paavo Järvi. Being able to watch and interact with first-class artists like Zubin Metha, Esa Pekka, Hilary Hahn, and Yuja Wang has allowed me to understand how music is created at a top level. 

I have also had the chance to be in the same room with a variety of Hollywood legends including Cristina Aguilera, Viola Davis, and Bradley Cooper. Additionally, in terms of making a career, it has given me the visibility that every artist needs to be able to stand out in a world as competitive as orchestral conducting. It has quickly opened doors to the industry, something I have been trying to do on my own for the past six years. I think working with the LA Philharmonic has put me a few years ahead in my career and has allowed me to focus on what is most important to me, which is to study the music as much as I can. 

How has the University helped guide you in your career path? 

I have learned so much from Gerard Schwarz, the conductor of the Frost Symphony Orchestra. He has always been supportive regarding my career. Because of Schwarz’s experience in the field, he is always open to giving me important advice and guidance for opportunities to conduct. He has encouraged me to go further and be ambitious because he believes in my talent and the potential I have. He’s supported me in this exciting process and has motivated me along the way. I think he has a special talent of seeing things in people that others can’t.

How have you brought music to vulnerable communities, and what inspired you to do this work?

I am very passionate about the power and effects of social transformation through music. I have been able to observe from my own experience the changes that music can have in people, especially in children. In Colombia, I worked with the nonprofit organization, “40 Horas” en El Sistema–inspired outreach program supported by the Colombian government to foster talent in economically disenfranchised areas of my hometown of Bogotá. As the music director, my team and I were able to create orchestras and choirs for children in very vulnerable communities. 

The results that I saw, after only a few months of teaching, were remarkable. Music gave hope to children because they were able to escape mentally and physically from very tough environments and create healthy connections with their peers and teachers. Music created a kind of sensibility and empathy that they were not familiar with previously. Engaging in these projects has given me the opportunity to hone my conducting skills and broaden my understanding of the impact of music in some of the most vulnerable communities in the U.S. and Latin America.

A few years after this experience, I had the good fortune of working with the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) and directly with Gustavo Dudamel, a Venezuelan conductor and violinist who is the music director of the LA Philharmonic. I was able to see the impact that orchestral music generates in massive communities. The LA Philharmonic has conducted research that shows the neural changes that occur when children are exposed to classical music. The results are highly positive. I have no doubt that music is a vehicle that transforms people and entire communities.

What future goals do you have once you graduate from the Frost School of Music?

My goals are to continue learning the art of orchestral conducting and work with orchestras around the world. Having the fortune to get up every morning and do what I love is a great blessing. Music has allowed me to make great friends and get to know very distant places and cultures. The art of music has allowed me to explore human emotions and our condition, and I hope to continue doing this for the rest of my life.

Visit The U Creates for more information about the arts and humanities at the University of Miami.