In 2011, Josep Caballé-Domenech burst upon the Springs classical music scene like a fireball: smart, passionate, deeply knowledgeable about the repertoire, and perhaps most important, determined to propel the Colorado Springs Philharmonic to the next level. Eight seasons later, the orchestra’s music director/conductor is as intent to push the 92-year-old orchestra—and himself—to the Next Great Thing.
“I mean, it’s the challenge,” says Caballé-Domenech, a Barcelona native born into a family of musicians. “You know, the challenge of the repertoire, the challenge of new experiences, the challenge of the involvement of new audiences—or old audiences in another way—is what keeps this relationship alive.”
Like most conductors, Caballé-Domenech seems always to be on his way to somewhere else. Based in Barcelona, where his wife and two children live, he travels extensively as a baton-for-hire. His impressive résumé reveals work with orchestras all over the world, including the Royal Philharmonic in London, Tonhalle Orchester Zurich, and Vienna’s Volksoper, as well as respected orchestras in Baltimore, Ft. Worth and Houston, among others.
And then there are his regular gigs: The Philharmonic, of course, but also the Staatskapelle Halle-Saale in Germany, and beginning this year, Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá in Colombia.
But seven years ago, as he stepped in to conduct for ailing Philharmonic music director Lawrence Leighton Smith, the list of candidates to replace Smith, who was retiring, was already nailed down—and didn’t include Caballé-Domenech. His performance so wowed the orchestra that the then-38-year-old conductor found himself the sixth candidate. He was hired in May 2011.
“What struck me in the beginning was the vision of a long-term relationship that would take these artists to another level. I think we’ve achieved a lot,” says Caballé-Domenech, who recently renewed his contract with the Philharmonic. It’s now open-ended. “We’re crossing borders, can we say, right? Doing things that probably were never thought possible to do in Colorado Springs, and we’re showing that it’s possible—and that we’re doing it.”
Orchestra President and CEO Nathan Newbrough agrees. “He just doesn’t slow down, and under his leadership, this orchestra can play anything. It is an ambitious season for sure.”
The Philharmonic season begins Sept. 15 with Beethoven 7. It includes: Swan Lake; a new concert program focusing on soloists called the Al and Leigh Buettner Signature Series; Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 8, a monumental work that’s seldom played; With Honor: Composers Who Served, featuring Ives, Barber, Ravel and others; The Wonderful Music of Oz; and an E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial screening with the orchestra.
More. Better. That’s Caballé-Domenech.
“Everyone who will buy a ticket will know that this orchestra is exciting,” said Caballé-Domenech before embarking on his first season with the Philharmonic. “They will see an orchestra on fire. That’s what I really want.”
2018-19 Season Highlights
The Al and Leigh Buettner Signature Series
With a new name, the series now spotlights creative genius through four featured soloists, who will have control of every aspect of the concert—from repertoire to conducting, if they like. “They are experiences from four personalities in such a different way,” says Colorado Springs Philharmonic Music Director Josep Caballé-Domenech. “That could be a milestone of the season.” The series begins with Elina Vähälä: Beautiful Finland on Sept. 29-30.
The award-winning composer debuts her second commission for the Philharmonic with The Death of Socrates. When the Philharmonic discovers up-and-coming talent, the music director says, the orchestra puts them center stage. “And they’re coming back.” In Stravinsky’s Petrushka, Oct. 13-14.
Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 8
This monumental work, which demands a large orchestra and remarkable musical chops, was written in 1943, arguably at the height of the composer’s creative genius. “That’s a concert that no one should really miss just because of the meaning of the piece and what it represents,” Caballé-Domenech says. In Life Is Beautiful, April 6-7, 2019.
Audience Mixtape: Rhapsody in Blue
This Pops confection, April 12-13, asks audiences to choose what the orchestra will play prior to Gershwin’s crowd pleaser. It’s a demanding proposition for the orchestra, which must prepare many more works than will likely be played. “It feels challenging, which is great,” Caballé-Domenech says. “And that’s something that really defines this season. It’s fun and reaches audiences in a different way. … I’m very excited about that, and I think the musicians will be excited too.”
“The most famous trombonist ever,” according to Caballé-Domenech, headlines the May 18-19, program, Boléro. “It’s like having another Yo-Yo Ma in Colorado Springs that will conduct and will play.”
Check out the Colorado Springs Philharmonic’s 2018-19 season, including individual tickets and subscriptions, at csphilharmonic.org.