Mexican conductor Carlos del Cueto was most recently Junior Fellow in Conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) in Manchester, as well assistant conductor and Head of Music Staff at English Touring Opera and a winner of the BBC Performing Arts Fund Music Fellowship scheme. Having trained as a pianist under the eminent Carlos Barajas in Mexico City, Carlos began to conduct in 2001 under the tutelage of American choral conductor John Guthmiller. Carlos has been an active conductor ever since.
In 2011 Carlos completed a PhD in Music at Clare College, Cambridge, focusing on historical aspects of nineteenth-century Italian opera. While in Cambridge he conducted nearly all the established orchestras: he was principal conductor of the Cambridge University Symphony Orchestra (2006-08), a regular guest conductor with the Cambridge Graduate Orchestra and the orchestra of Clare College, as well as conducting scholar of the Cambridge University Musicological Society (CUMS 1; 2008-10). As conducting scholar he assisted various distinguished conductors, including David Hill, Dmitri Sitkovetsky, and Sir Roger Norrington. Carlos also founded the Cambridge Symphonic Players, leading critically acclaimed performances of works such as the Prelude and Liebstod from Tristan and Isolde, Richard Strauss’s Metamorphosen, and Brahms’s Symphony No. 3.
As Junior Fellow in Conducting at the RNCM, much of Carlos’s work in Manchester centred on the ensembles of the school. Highlights included assisting Sir Mark Elder, Ivor Bolton, Mark Shanahan, Roger Hamilton, and Garry Walker, as well as masterclasses with Juanjo Mena and Vassily Petrenko, and numerous performances of music old and new. Carlos has conducted sessions with The Hallé on Brahms’s and Sibelius, as well as a programme of Mozart and Schumann with the Manchester Camerata. Carlos also participated in the Järvi International Academy for Conducting in Pärnu, Estonia, where he took part in various masterclasses with Paavo Järvi and Leonid Grin, and in the London Sinfonietta Academy, where he conducted the London Sinfonietta in masterclasses with George Benjamin. He is also an associate conductor with the Manchester-based ACM ensemble, with whom he has premiered many works by young composers and performed the monumental Schnee by Hans Abrahamsen, and the UK première of Amid by Simon Steen-Andersen. Carlos will be making his debut with the Britten Sinfonia in 2015, with a series of three concerts in March.
Carlos’s keenest interest lies with opera. With English Touring Opera he conducted performances of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra and Mozart’s Così fan tutte, and assisted for productions of Donizetti’s L’assedio di Calais, Cavalli’s Giasone, and Handel’s Agrippina. Before that he conducted fully staged performances Bizet’s Carmen throughout the country in Co-Opera Co’s production (as assistant to Jim Holmes), and Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin in Cambridge. Other projects have included Britten’s Noye’s Fludde (in association with three primary schools), and Holst’s Savitri. He has assisted Stuart Stratford with a production of Verdi’s Falstaff (ETO, 2005), Tim Murray with La bohème (Co-Opera Co., 2009). In 2015 he will be assistant at the Nederlandse Reiseopera for a production of Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice.
Over the last few years Carlos has increasingly worked with early opera: while at the RNCM he assisted Roger Hamilton for Handel’s Xerxes and Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, both of which he conducted in performance from the harpsichord. Carlos also played the harpsichord for ETO’s production of Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea and various concerts of Handel and Vivaldi works. At the other end of the spectrum Carlos also enjoys working with new operas. Most recently, Carlos assisted Andrew Gourlay for the London première of Luca Francesconi’s Quartet for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. He led the première of Ed Hughes’s chamber opera Cocteau in the Underworld at the Grimeborn Festival in London (Arcola Theatre, 2010), and then the orchestrated version, retitled as When the Flame Dies, with the New Music Players at the Canterbury Festival in October 2012. In 2013 he premiered Tom Smail’s opera Soon at the Tête-à-tête Opera Festival.
Carlos has also done extensive conducting work with musicians from diverse backgrounds, including professional, amateur, jazz, and young musicians. He has created and taught workshops on rehearsal technique and general musicianship. These activities have taken him around the world to cities such as San Francisco, Madrid, Lyon, London, and Naples. In addition, Carlos has studied Indian classical music with Samir Chatterjee and conducted choral and instrumental ensembles for the SYDA Foundation, where he served as guest conductor between 2001 and 2006. This work took him to India to conduct and train groups of young Indian musicians in various forms of Indian music, such as Vedic recitation and traditional bhajans.