“An orchestral conductor with quality and drive.”
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Venezuelan-American conductor Carmen Helena Téllez has been called “a quiet force behind contemporary music in the United States today” by the online journal Sequenza 21. Since the beginning of her professional career, she has concentrated in the relationship of music with other arts through her performances of contemporary works for chorus, orchestra and new opera in the United States, Europe, Israel and Latin America. After her tenure as Music Director of the National Chorus of Spain she joined the distinguished music faculty at Indiana University in 1992, as Director of the Latin American Music Center and the Contemporary Vocal Ensemble. For these organizations she has commissioned and recorded several new works, and has founded the Inter-American Composition Workshops. During the 2001-2002 she was the Resident Conductor of the path-breaking Contemporary Chamber Players of Chicago and became the Music Director of the Pocket Opera Players in New York City.
Carmen Helena Téllez is sought after as a conductor of new music, even though she has maintained a relationship with masterpieces of the past, such as Bach's Weihnachts-Oratorium and Berlioz's Messe des morts both of which she has conducted to critical acclaim. In the year 2001 she conducted the American Midwest première of John Adams' El Niño and in 2002 she conducted Stephen Hartke's Tituli. Also in 2002 she was asked to conduct the second-ever performance of Ralph Shapey's oratorio Praise. She has been responsible for several commissions and world premieres, including John Eaton's opera Inasmuch and his Mass for vocal-instrumental ensemble; Aurelio de la Vega's Variación del Recuerdo, and Mario Lavista's Missa ad Consolationis Dominam Nostram. She has also performed the Midwest premieres of many important compositions, including James MacMilllan's Seven Last Words, Alfred Schnittke's Requiem and Lou Harrison's Orpheus. She is scheduled to conduct the world première of MacMillan's Sun Dogs in July 2006, which she co-commissioned.
As a scholar and conductor Carmen Helena Téllez has won many grants and awards from the US-Mexico Fund for Culture, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Indiana Arts Commission, the United States Information Agency, and the Circle of Music and Theater Critics of Mexico. She is a respected consultant with international organizations on contemporary composers and on Latin American music, and has written several articles on these subjects for the New Grove Dictionary of Music.
In 1996 Carmen Helena Téllez founded Aguavá New Music Studio with composer Cary Boyce, joined by flutist and producer Alain Barker in 2000. With this organization she has recorded two critically acclaimed CDs. Her current research and performance interests involve the inter-disciplinary presentation of new music, in order to enhance the connection of composers with the concerns of present-day audiences, and reassess the ritual role of art in our time.