When the Spanish-born conductor José-Luis Novo was in the first few years of his career on the podium, he was often asked to conduct concerts with an all-Latin flavor.
He said no.
“One of the things that I hate is putting labels on things,” says Novo, who on Sunday will guest conduct the Fresno Philharmonic in a program based on dances from Spain and Latin America. “At the beginning of my career I was trying very strongly to avoid putting on that label.”
But things have changed in the classical music world over the past 20 years. Latin-themed music is more popular than ever in the U.S. and Europe. The Fresno orchestra sought out a guest conductor who could build an entire concert around that theme.
“I think now that I have established myself, I am more than happy to do this music,” he says. “There is so much great music that isn’t performed because people don’t know it. When the Fresno Philharmonic talked to me, they wanted a concert that would feature Latin American music in quite a wide spectrum.”
In a discussion by phone, Novo talked about his lineup for the concert and the increased interest in Latin classical music. Here’s a rundown: