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Angel Gil-Ordóñez watched spellbound at Madrid’s Teatro Real as Sergiu Celibidache led the London Symphony Orchestra in 1978. Awed by the legendary conductor’s sorcerer’s passion, galvanized by the transparency of sound magically elicited, Gil-Ordóñez resolved that he would become a symphonic conductor. Seven years later, in 1985, he moved to Munich to study with Celibidache — a relationship that would last eight years.

Gil-Ordóñez and Celibidache

Celibidache’s mentorship ultimately inspired Gil-Ordóñez to co-found PostClassical Ensemble with music historian Joseph Horowitz — one of his proudest achievements. The ethos of PostClassical combines Horowitz’s visionary programming with a tireless pursuit of transcendent listening experiences. Treating performance as a “laboratory for musical thought experiments,” the Ensemble has been heralded as “one of the country’s most innovative music groups” (Philip Kennicott, The Washington Post).

Gil-Ordóñez and Horowitz

Born in Madrid, Gil-Ordóñez first remembers being enraptured by film scores, many of which derived from the music of composers he came to admire. At age seven he was recruited for the choir at his primary school, and later took lessons in guitar, accordion, and — his primary instrument — the violin. At age twelve he began attending concerts with family friends who subscribed to Spain’s radio orchestra. Gil-Ordóñez was transfixed — he never missed a performance.

At the insistence of his parents, Gil-Ordóñez pursued Engineering at the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid. But he continued his musical instruction at the Conservatorio Superior de Música, studying with some of Spain’s most outstanding musicians. Upon receiving his Engineering degree, he opted for the singular pursuit of music. His musical purview was further shaped in France by Pierre Boulez and Iannis Xenakis.

Gil-Ordóñez receives the Royal Order of Queen Isabella

Though Gil-Ordóñez’s musical affinities are global, he has long championed Spanish repertoire, including works and composers little-known outside Spain. In 2006 the King of Spain bestowed upon Gil-Ordóñez the Royal Order of Queen Isabella, the country’s highest civilian decoration, for advancing Spanish culture around the world, and in particular for advocating Spanish music in its cultural context.

Currently the Music Director/Conductor of PostClassical Ensemble and Principal Guest Conductor of New York’s Perspectives Ensemble, Gil-Ordóñez is also Music Director of the Georgetown University Orchestra in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he serves as advisor for education and programming for Trinitate Philharmonia, a program in León, Mexico, modeled on Venezuela’s El Sistema, and is as a regular guest conductor at the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Maine.

He has appeared as guest conductor with the American Composers Orchestra, Opera Colorado, the Pacific Symphony, the Hartford Symphony, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. Abroad, he has conducted the Munich Philharmonic, the Solistes de Berne, at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, at the Bellas Artes National Theatre in Mexico City, and the major symphony orchestras in his native Spain.

Gil-Ordóñez is the former Associate Conductor of the National Orchestra of Spain. In Munich, he served as the Music Director and Conductor of the Orchestra and Choir of the Spanish Cultural Institute. In Spain, he founded and served as Music Director of the Academia de Madrid chamber orchestra. He was also the Principal Guest Conductor of the Classical Orchestra of Madrid.

He has recorded four albums devoted to Spanish composers. Of the seven PostClassical Ensemble CDs and DVDs he has recorded with PostClassical Ensemble for Naxos, The City and Redes were world premiere recordings of the soundtracks by Aaron Copland and Silvestre Revueltas, respectively. His most recent Naxos CD with PCE, featuring music by Lou Harrison, has been acclaimed on four continents.

Gil-Ordóñez moved to the United States in 1994 and became an American citizen in 2009. He resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Adriana, and daughter, Paula.

Want to know more about Gil-Ordóñez? Listen to WWFM’s series of podcast for a deep dive into his work with PostClassical Ensemble and what motivates and fascinates him as a conductor.