Juan R. Ramírez, Artistic Director and Conductor
A CENTRAL FIGURE in the Atlanta musical community for decades, the violinist, composer and conductor Juan R. Ramírez-Hernández began his musical education in Mexico, later moving to the United States to study with Joseph Silverstein at the New England Conservatory. His studies with Henryk Szeryng began at the age of fourteen, and continued as he became his principal mentor in Mexico, the U.S. and Europe.
Under the tutelage of conductor Leon Barzin, Ramírez was the recipient of both the Serge Koussevitzky and Leonard Bernstein awards at the Tanglewood Music Festival.
Mr. Ramírez has performed and conducted in numerous countries throughout Europe and Asia, as well as in Israel and Mexico. The distinguished composer-conductor Gunther Schuller stated his “unqualified faith in Mr. Ramírez as a violinist and a musical leader of great artistic integrity” and noted that “whatever he undertakes is touched by quality.”
He has won numerous awards and honors along the way, including Lexus Leader of the Arts by WABE Public Radio of Atlanta and WPBA Television for “his outstanding contributions, his pursuit of excellence in music and for his initiating and serving several community music organizations in the arts community”, the Loridans Arts Award, and the Governor’s Award in the Humanities.
Known throughout the state as a music advocator and educator, Mr. Ramírez founded Music for Success! – an educational program under the auspices of the Atlanta Virtuosi Foundation in partnership with metro Atlanta educational institutions, providing string training by professional musicians to young elementary and middle school children of many backgrounds. He generously volunteers his time, energy and expertise to music students in the Atlanta area and beyond.
In addition to his extensive career as a performer and conductor, Ramírez is also a prolific composer incorporating the sounds of his native Mexico into his works. His compositions include Anahuac for tenor, soprano, winds, strings, and pre-Columbian percussion, commissioned in 1993 by the ACOG –Cultural Olympiad as part of ¡MEXICO! A Cultural Tapestry. Ramírez’ Suite Criolla for tenor, soprano, chorus, narrator and orchestra debuted in 1995 at the Hispanic Festival of the Arts, and his Navidad Hispana for solo guitar and orchestra was given its premiere by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with the composer as the guitar soloist. Ramírez’ Suite Huasteca for violin, strings and guitar earned critical acclaim in both the U.S. and Mexico, and in 2008 received its European premiere in Barcelona, Spain. In 2016 he was featured as guest composer for his US world premiere of Suite Latina for string quartet and string orchestra at the Bellingham Festival of Music, Washington. Mr. Ramírez has been a member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra since 1974 and is the founder and artistic director of the Atlanta Virtuosi Foundation, Buckhead Youth Orchestra, Casa de la Cultura-Atlanta, and is music director and conductor of the Atlanta Community Symphony Orchestra. Many of his commissioned compositions have been world premiered in Atlanta, New York, Budapest, and Monaco. His recent Elegy for violin, cello, piano and soprano, composed for the pancreatic cancer research fundraiser ART-CAN, was choreographed and performed with members of the Atlanta Ballet.
Mr. Ramírez has served on the Board of Directors of Childhood Cancer, the Sphinx Organization and the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, and received the World Chamber of CommerceCultural International Hero Award. He holds the title of “Presidential Professor” at the University of Michigan, the highest honor “given to visiting artists and scholars, recognizing distinguished individuals for their extraordinary achievements.”This year Mr. Ramirez was awarded the League of American Orchestras 2018 Ford Foundation Musician Award for Excellence in Community Service. He is very proud to have been awarded the 2018 Ohtli Award, one of the highest honors from the Mexican Government, recognizing individuals who have “aided, empowered or positively affected the lives of Mexican nationals in the United States and around the world.”
Orchestra Members – Atlanta Area Musicians
The orchestra is composed of musicians from the Atlanta area who perform on a volunteer basis. Membership includes advanced music students, music teachers, semi-professional, professional and former professional instrumentalists. The orchestra is comprised of all age groups; there is a span of over 50 years between the youngest and oldest member of the orchestra.
Pablo Alfaro, Concertmaster
Pablo Alfaro attended the Academie de Musique Gretry in Belgium, winning first place at the violin competition of that organization. Pablo Alfaro also studied at the National School of Music (UNAM) in Mexico. Pablo Alfaro got the scholarship that O.A.S. granted to Latin America to the Interlochen Festival, Michigan, USA.It is important to mention that Pablo Alfaro was winner of the First National Competition for young soloists organized by the UNAM. He has been a member of the Mexico National Symphony Orchestra, Mexico City Philharmonic, State of Mexico Symphony Orchestra, Toluca Chamber Orchestra (where he was concertmaster for seven years) and the SEC String Quartet in Xalapa. Pablo Alfaro has been invited to collaborate with the Gretry String Quartet giving concerts in diverse cities of Belgium. Also Pablo Alfaro has been a judge for Band and Orchestra Competitions in Mexico and USA.Pablo Alfaro has been soloist of several orchestras in Mexico and USA. During two years he was concertmaster of Taylorsville Symphony Orchestra in Utah, Pablo is the concertmaster of the Atlanta Comunity Symphony Orchestra. USA. Pablo Alfaro has performed in Mexico, Porto Rico, Belgium, Spain, China and the USA. Pablo attended to master classes by Leon Spierer and Gil Shaham.The Violin Maker – Pablo Alfaro graduated from the Taller de Laudería at the Universidad Veracruzana in Xalapa, in addition he attended the advanced program of specialization with Gary Vessel in Utah, USA. Pablo Alfaro has received over twenty five awards in violinmaking competitions including Eight Gold Medals and Seven Silver Medals. In 2009 Pablo Alfaro was the Grand Champion Contest Winner of the Bob Wallace Memorial Award.Mr. Alfaro is a member of the AFVBM (American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers) serving on the Board of Governors. As a member of VSA (Violin Society of America) Pablo attends the Oberlin workshops every year and has been a conference speaker for VSA Conventions. Pablo is also a member of VMAAI (Violin Makers Association of Arizona International) serving on the Board of Directors and SVA (Southern Violin Association) serving on the Board of Directors as well. Pablo received tutelage from great masters as Rene Morel, Hans Nebel, and Jerry Pasewicz among others. In addition Pablo Alfaro has been a tone, varnish and workmanship judge as well as a conference speaker for VMAAI and SVA.Pablo Alfaro has been a faculty member for the Universidad Autonoma de Puebla’s International Music Festival, the Florida International University’s “Animato” Music Camp and the “Orchestral Studies for Musical Studies” at Reinhardt College in Georgia, the Nessonvaux Festival in Belgium and at the EMBA Summer Festival in Veracruz. Pablo Alfaro was appointed as principal technician and foreman for five consecutive years at Summerhays Music Center in Utah. Also Pablo joined the staff of Williams Gengakki Violins in Atlanta, GA as a restorer for one year. Currently Mr. Alfaro works in his own shop “Alfaro Violins, LLC” in Decatur, GA restoring fine old instruments, as well as creating new violins, violas and cellos. www.alfaroviolins.com
The Artist – Pablo Alfaro is self-taught and has presented eleven collective exhibitions in Mexico and two individual exhibitions in Mexico and the USA. Pablo has made more than one hundred twenty works. As caricaturist, Pablo has made around three hundred. In 1976 Pablo Alfaro received the Diplome of Honor and Medal granted by “L’Ordre de la Courtoisie Francaise”, Organization that exalts ethical, moral and social values.