As conductor of the Nashville Symphony since 2009, Giancarlo Guerrero has championed a broad range of accessible contemporary music. He has a long record of appearances and recordings in the U.S., Latin America, and beyond.
Guerrero was born in Managua, Nicaragua, on March 14, 1969, but was raised mostly in Costa Rica. He played with the Costa Rica Youth Symphony, and by his teens he was a percussionist in the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica. His introduction to American music-making came at Baylor University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree as a percussionist, but also studied conducting. Guerrero went on for a master’s degree in conducting at Northwestern University, working there with Victor Yampolsky. He began his professional career in Latin America as music director of the Tachira Symphony Orchestra in Venezuela. In 1999, he became associate conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra. During his first season, he conducted the world premiere of John Corigliano’s Phantasmagoria on themes from the Ghosts of Versailles. He remained with the Minnesota Orchestra until 2004. He was also named music director of the Eugene Symphony Orchestra in Oregon in 2002, and two years later he won the Helen M. Thompson Award from the American Symphony Orchestra League, marking him as a rising young conductor. Guerrero continued to appear in Latin America, conducting Yo-Yo Ma and the Puerto Rico Symphony at the 2005 Casals Festival in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the Buenos Aires Philharmonic at the Teatro Colón that same year. He has made guest appearances with major American symphony orchestras including those of Boston, Detroit, and Dallas, and with such foreign groups as the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Gulbenkian Orchestra of Lisbon. Guerrero has also conducted opera at, among other places, the Adelaide Festival in Australia.
His repertory ranges forward from Mozart to contemporary works. Since becoming music director of the Nashville Symphony in 2009, he has focused on the latter, often inclining toward works of broad public appeal. He has championed the works of diverse composers including John Adams, Jennifer Higdon, Terry Riley, and Osvaldo Golijov. He immediately endeared himself to his Music City hosts by releasing an album featuring the Metropolis Symphony of Michael Daugherty that won three Grammy awards. The album appeared on the Naxos label, and Guerrero’s association with that label has continued with one or two new releases each year in the 2010s. He and the Nashville Symphony released an album featuring music by composer Jonathan Leshnoff in 2019. ~ James Manheim