Described as “a major career in the making” by Seen and Heard International, Colombian conductor and composer Carlos Ágreda is noted for his dynamic leadership on and off the podium, and breadth of repertoire. Carlos was formerly a Conducting Fellow at the Curtis Institute of Music under the mentorship of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and currently in his last season as Music Director of the Empire State Youth Orchestra in New York, USA.
Carlos has quickly started to build a reputation as a passionate artist with a unique ability to inspire audiences, orchestras and musicians to convene around the transformational power of symphonic music in the 21st Century. Carlos has worked with different orchestras in Colombia, United Kingdom, Mexico and the United States, including the Manchester Camerata, the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic, the Colombia National Symphony Orchestra, among many others, and innovative projects such as the Filarmonía Xalapa in Mexico.
Passionate about versatility, his musical interests and repertoire range from opera and choral music to contemporary and Latin-American music. For instance, his approach to new music has been widely developed by conducting more than 30 world premieres in the United States, Colombia and the United Kingdom. In accordance with this interest, Carlos conducted chamber pieces by British composer Jonathan Harvey in the prestigious Wigmore Hall (London), he conducted in the major festival New Music North West 2016, and conducted full-staged opera and new opera productions at the Opera Philadelphia and Curtis Opera Theatre (USA). Also, Carlos was invited as a Conducting Fellow to the Cabrillo Contemporary Music Festival 2017 (USA).
Carlos first came to international attention when he reached the third round in the Cadaqués Orchestra International Conducting Competition in 2013 at the age of 22, the youngest of the seven short-listed candidates. As assistant conductor, Ágreda has worked alongside internationally renowned names such as Juanjo Mena, Peter Oundjian, Yan Pascal Tortelier, David Robertson, Leonard Slatkin, Jon Storgårds and Sir Mark Elder with orchestras such as the St. Louis and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestras, the Royal Liverpol Philarmonic Orchestra. He has also collaborated professionally with Sir Andrew Davis, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, and Osmo Vänskä and has been invited to participate in many high-profile masterclasses with Michael Tilson Thomas, Cristian Măcelaru ,Benjamin Zander, Stéphane Denève, and Vasily Petrenko, to name a few.
Born in Bogotá, Colombia, Ágreda studied conducting and composition at the Juan N. Corpas University under the mentorship of Jorge Alejandro Salazar, graduating with summa cum laude honours in 2012. He continued his conducting studies at the Royal Northern College of Music on the prestigious Master’s programme under the tutelage of Clark Rundell and Mark Heron, graduating with distinction in 2016 before taking up the Conducting Fellowship at the world-renowned Curtis Institute of Music.
Carlos is also passionate about social transformation through art and community education. This commitment allowed him to lead different workshops and concerts of social projects such as Play On Philly (Philadelphia, USA), All City Orchestra (Philadelphia), and youth orchestras such as the Empire State Youth Orchestra (NY, USA), the Stockport Youth Orchestra (UK) and the Unimusica Youth Orchestra (Colombia). In Colombia, Carlos was the Artistic Director of one of the projects of social transformation through music by the Bogota City Hall in collaboration with the Bogota Philharmonic.
As a composer, Carlos Ágreda won the Stockport Youth Orchestra Composition Competition 2016 and the First Prize of the Gustavo Gómez Ardila Composition Competition 2012. His works are performed have been performed by the leading professional orchestras in Colombia including the Colombia National Symphony Orchestra and the EAFIT Symphony Orchestra; and also the Unitas Ensemble (Boston – USA) performed in its opening concert the North-American premier of Carlos' piece “Prólogo y Danza Fugitiva”.
His pieces "Abrazos de Latina Proveniencia", "Prólogo y Danza Fugitiva", and "Dejémonos de Vainas" won the competition to be selected by the Colombian National Symphonic Music Association to be recorded in the Reading Sessions of New Colombian Composers in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The first work was selected to be played in the season New Colombian Music by the Colombia National Symphony Orchestra.