Sad news just in: prominent London leader dies (update)

Sad news just in: prominent London leader dies (update)


norman lebrecht

August 12, 2011

I have just heard from the pianist Alberto Portugheis that the graceful violinist José Luis Garcia has died in London after a long illness.

He was, for more than 20 years, the leader and soloist of the English Chamber Orchestra, named on many recordings, most notably Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and the Mozart violin concertos.  The funeral will be at 14.30 on Thursday 25th August, at St Paul’s, in Onslow Square, SW7.

Jose-Luis Garcia (Violin), English Chamb - Vivaldi: The Four Seasons, Etc / Garcia, English Co CD Cover Art

I will post further details as they become available.

Here’s a short biography from his niece’s website:

Born in Madrid , Spain , Garcia began his violin studies at the age of six with his father. Upon winning First Prize in the 1960 Sarasate Violin Competition he moved to London to study at The Royal College of Music under the direction of Antonio Brosa. One year later he won the Stoutzker Prize, the College’s senior violin award.

In 1966, at the age of 22, he was appointed Professor of violin at the Royal College of Music in London , the youngest professor ever appointed to any British senior music school. In 1967 he was honoured with the prestigious Harriet Cohen International Award, given annually in England to musicians of distinction.

During a substantial part of his life, Garcia studied with the great conductor Sergiu Celibidache, who became the strongest influence in his music making and with whom he had the privilege of appearing as soloist several times.

Mr Garcia was Leader-Director of the world famous English Chamber Orchestra for more than twenty years. During this time he made hundreds of recordings with the ensemble, many of them as soloist and director. Some of his best known recordings have been those of the of the Mozart violin concertos, two versions of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, and many others.

Over the last thirty years he has appeared as soloist with many of the major orchestras in Europe with distinguished conductors such as Sergiu Celibidache, Daniel Barenboim, Sir Colin Davis, Leonard Slatkin, Garcia-Asensio and others. However, since the mid 1980s he has increased his activities in the USA and Canada , appearing frequently as conductor and soloist with the St. Louis Symphony, the Detroit Symphony, the Washington National Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony, the Toronto Symphony, the Fort Worth Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, the Utah Symphony Orchestra and others. He has performed many times in Japan and other countries in the Far East , and has done several tours in Israel conducting the Israel Chamber Orchestra and the Sinfonietta.

In 1992 he joined the faculty of the Queen Sofia School of Music in Madrid where he spends as much time as possible as Violin Professor. From 1992 to 1999 he was also Music Director and Conductor of the orchestra. With the orchestra he has toured all over Spain , appeared in several Festivals in Portugal and conducted the orchestra’s debut in Paris .

He participates every year in numerous Summer Festivals and Courses in the USA and Europe as conductor, violinist and chamber music coach

During the last few years he has also appeared as Conductor-Soloist with most of the Spanish orchestras.

In 2007, Mr. García suffered a severe stroke which stopped his brilliant musical career.

At this moment, Mr García has made such amazing progress in his rehabilitation that we will be able to enjoy his knowledge and talent in two Master Classes. His communication abilities, which go beyond speech, will add musicality and inspiration to all of us who will have the privilege to assist to this event.