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BYU Arts Bravo

Passion in Practice: Enrico Lopez-Yañez Teaches BYU Students the Importance of Enthusiasm in Conducting

Guest Utah Symphony Conductor Enrico Lopez-Yañez Offers Guidance and Encouragement to BYU Conducting Students

BYU students had the privilege to meet with Enrico Lopez-Yañez, one of the nation’s most notable popular music conductors.

Enrico Lopez-Yañez, pictured on the left, speaks to a group of conducting students. Photo by Emma Olson.

Enrico Lopez-Yañez spent his childhood surrounded by music. Raised by a piano teacher and an opera singer, Lopez-Yañez longed for a career in the arts while maintaining a unique identity that set him apart from his parents. While studying opera in college, he discovered his true calling — conducting.

Lopez-Yañez emphasized the importance of passion in his conducting masterclass on September 19. “If there’s no passion behind what you’re doing, then you’re never going to be happy doing it,” he told students.

He led the Utah Symphony as a guest conductor in the first ¡Celebración Sinfónica! Concert at BYU in celebration of Hispanic Heritage month, opening the 2023-24 BRAVO! season.

In addition to his role as Principal Pops Conductor of the Nashville Symphony, Lopez-Yañez was newly appointed as Principal Conductor of the Dallas Symphony and Principal Pops Conductor of the Pacific Symphony. He has also composed and arranged for symphonies across the nation and conducted concerts for many popular artists.

Lopez-Yañez shared that conducting involves developing a wide repertoire of skills and transcends material conducting students study within their programs.

“During this phase when you’re learning, it’s important to be not a specialist in one thing, but a specialist in everything,” he said.

Leadership, public speaking skills and personality are all elements that make a great maestro. Having a wide array of skills opened the door for Lopez-Yañez to start his own company, allowing him to build his own shows and make a name for himself.

“He’s a conductor that isn’t just doing one thing. He is very multifaceted,” said Noelle Singleton, a instrumental conducting master’s student with an emphasis in orchestral conducting. “It was enlightening to know what’s going on in the industry.”

For Lopez-Yañez, individuality is a key to successful conducting. He warned against adopting a facade while onstage.

“You have to be you both on and off the podium,” he said. “Being yourself is so important because people can see through an act so quickly.”

Conducting students inquired about Lopez-Yañez’s career. Photo by Emma Olson.

Lopez-Yañez is recognized for his unique style of audience engagement. His advice to students is to embrace conducting beyond the realm of classical music and explained that conducting pop arrangements is very common in the field. Those kinds of shows draw in an audience that is likely to be unfamiliar with orchestra and it is a maestro’s job to bridge that gap.

“You’re reaching a different community and connecting people to the orchestra that otherwise wouldn’t be engaged,” he said, “a lot of that comes from attitude and finding the merit in what you are doing.”

Lopez-Yañez encouraged students to find opportunities all around them to increase their knowledge. He highlighted the importance of “being in the room” even if that means just watching other conductors on stage.

Samuel Abramson, an instrumental conducting graduate student, said his key takeaway of the masterclass was to have passion behind your work.

“I think it was evident in Enrico’s masterclass that he loves what he does,” Abramson said. “If you don’t love what you do, you won’t make it anywhere.”