Tito Muñoz: Working With Young Artists At Kinhaven

Tito Muñoz is one of the most gifted and versatile conductors of his generation. Currently in his third year as music director of the Phoenix Symphony, he previously served as music director of the Opéra National de Lorraine and the Orchestre Symphonique et Lyrique de Nancy in France. He has also held positions with the Cleveland Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and Aspen Music Festival.

Committed to working with young artists, Muñoz has conducted performances at many prestigious youth orchestras, conservatory programs, and festivals, has conducted with youth orchestras and led conducting classes. An accomplished violinist, Muñoz studied at Juilliard School’s Music Advancement Program, the Manhattan School of Music Preparatory Division, and Queens College (CUNY).

Q: You’ve conducted with many university and youth orchestras. What do you like most about working with young musicians?

A: My favorite thing about working with a young orchestra is that it is probably the first time most of the musicians are discovering a piece. The excitement and passion that comes from them is very inspiring. I really enjoy imparting all of the things that I’ve learned over the years from the wonderful orchestras I’ve had the privilege of leading. To see their faces and feel their excitement when the piece starts coming to life is something you usually don’t get with seasoned professional orchestras.

Q: What inspired you to pursue conducting as a career?

A: I began music as a violinist (including Kinhaven – Junior session 1997) and eventually gravitated toward leadership positions because I was always curious about the workings of an ensemble and taking responsibility for it. I was fascinated by what the conductor was responsible for. I remember one of my first times playing in a full orchestra, the conductor asked the timpani player to make sure his drum was tuned to the right pitch. I didn’t know that timpani could be tuned! This made me listen more to what was going on around me, and I eventually wanted to try conducting. I found opportunities in high school and in college, and eventually I successfully auditioned for the conducting program at the Aspen Music Festival, which was really the start of my career.

Q: Most listened-to album (classical or otherwise)?

A: Most recently it has been “Art Pepper + Eleven.” I really enjoy big band and jazz music in general. Rhythm is such an important part of my craft and aesthetic (it should be for all musicians!), and I learn a lot about how to feel time from listening to great jazz musicians. Otherwise, I just turn on the radio and enjoy whatever might be playing.

Q: If you could only eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?

A: The chicken and rice plate (with white sauce) from the falafel truck around the corner from my apartment in Queens – a guilty pleasure, but there’s nothing like it!

 To learn more about Tito, visit his website, titomunoz.com.