B i o g r a p h y
José Areán’s career has covered a vast amount of musical and cultural grounds. Equally comfortable conducting opera, symphonic and chamber music, he has devoted much time as well to outreach and education in his homeland, Mexico, championing young talents, contemporary music and open-air musical experiences for a wide audience, hosting a cultural television show for over a decade, and working with some of the foremost artists of our time.
As an operatic conductor, he started out as First Assistant Conductor at Mexico’s National Opera, Bellas Artes (1996-2001) and was later appointed its Artistic Director (2007-2009), conducting dozens of mainstream opera and ballet performances. He also championed contemporary operas and conducted many world premieres onstage and world premiere recordings of works such as The Visitors, by Carlos Chávez; Séneca, by Marcela Rodríguez, En susurros los muertos, by Gualtiero Dazzi and the acclaimed Latin Grammy nominated Únicamente la Verdad (Only the Truth) by Gabriela Ortiz, as well as Mexico’s first performance of The Consolations of Scholarship by Judith Weir. In the 2018-2019 season he conducted the triumphant Latin American premiere of Kaija Saariaho's L'amour de loin at Mexico City's Bellas Artes Theatre, to critical and public acclaim.
He has worked with international stars such as Francisco Araiza, Ramón Vargas, Rolando Villazón, Javier Camarena, Ainhoa Arteta, Maria Katzarava and Alessandra Volpe, among many others. Mtro. Placido Domingo invited him in 2015 to conduct at his 55th Anniversary Gala at a sold-out Auditorio Nacional in Mexico City (9,500 seats) after they performed together Verdi’s Requiem at an open-air concert commemorating the victims of Mexico’s ’85 earthquake.
In the concert hall, Areán’s activity is equally dynamic. From 2005 until 2015 he was Associate Conductor to the Mineria Symphony Orchestra, Mexico’s finest Festival Orchestra. The range of music they have performed under Areán ranges from a Mahler cycle (2010-11), including Deryck Cooke’s version of the 10th Symphony and little-performed works such as Das klagende Lied, to first performances of works commissioned by the orchestra, to pops concerts in ten-thousand-seater venues.
During his tenure as Artistic Director of the Mexico City Philharmonic (2011-2016) Areán was widely recognised as an original and bold conductor and programmer. He performed nearly 70 Mexican works, a third of which were composed in the last decade. He commissioned and performed 10 new works and presented 20th century classics by a wide array of composers seldom presented to Mexican audiences: from Ligeti’s violin concerto with Irvine Arditti to Cage’s 101 to Britten’s War Requiem. Challenging orthodox marketing notions, he achieved record numbers -especially young audiences- in these new music and 20th century music concerts. He expanded the orchestra’s horizons to perform fully staged works (Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring) and to collaborations with artists from different genres and backgrounds (Antony Hegarty, NORTEC, Michael Nyman, Jaime López, Alejandro Marcovich, Héctor Infanzón, etc).
In summer 2017, he was appointed Music and Artistic Director of the Aguascalientes Symphony Orchestra. Since then, the Orchestra has played many new works, toured regionally and participated in international Festivals in Mexico City, Guanajuato and Zacatecas. Its first recording under Areán's baton is on the works, Maria Katzarava's rendering of La voix humaine by Poulenc.
Internationally, he has performed in Germany, Austria, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, France, The Netherlands, Italy, Israel, Japan, Czech Republic, Rumania and Switzerland with orchestras such as the Tokyo Philharmonic, Braunschweig Staatsorchester, Dresden Symphoniker, Deutsche Philharmonie Merck, Jerusalem Symphony, George Enescu Philharmonic, Brno State Theatre Orchestra, Limburg Symphony, La Plata Theatre Orchestra, Filarmónica Ibérica, Phoenix Ensamble, Puglia Symphony etc. in concert halls including the Takemitsu Memorial Hall in Tokyo, the ORF Hall in Vienna, Staatstheater Braunschweig, Staatstheater Darmstadt, Den Haag Danstheater, Theater aan het Vrijthof in Maastricht, La Filature Scène Nationale in Mulhouse, Gare du Nord Basel, Teatro Argentino de la Plata, etc.
He has worked with soloists such as Irvine Arditti, Philippe Quint, Sarah Chang, Valentina Lisitsa, Giora Feidman, Jorge Federico Osorio, Juan Achucarro, Héctor Infanzón, The Cuarteto Latinoamericano, the Trio Wanderer and many others.
In his role as programmer and administrator, he was Artistic and General Director of the Mexico City Festival (2002-2007) where he applied successfully his fund-raising skills to achieve world-class programming, ranging from Wynton Marsalis and Bobby McFerrin to the first ever Mexican production of Wagner’s Ring.
Since 2006 Areán co-hosts Escenarios (Stages), a three-hour weekly television programme in the Mexican public channel Canal22, presenting opera, ballet, theatre and concerts. He has hosted over 400 episodes of the programme.
Among his recordings, there are several film soundtracks and commercial CD’s.
Areán was trained at Mexico’s National School of Music and graduated with honours from the Vienna Conservatoire.