Music alumnus Carlos César Rodríguez reflects on piano masterwork

Venezuelan-born pianist and School of Music alumnus Carlos César Rodríguez returned to his alma mater in September 2019 as an alumni guest artist, performing Isaac Albéniz's sweeping "Iberia" in its entirety.

After the performance, Rodríguez connected with his friend, musician and educator Andrew Smith. Together, they brought about the idea for a lecture-demonstration series focused on the great materworks for piano. Their conversation, recorded at Ovation Sound in Winston-Salem, explores the masterpiece that is "Iberia."

Listen to their conversation

Watch the "Iberia" performance

More about Carlos César Rodríguez

Acclaimed by the Washington Post as a "virtuoso ... as compelling to watch as he is to hear," Carlos César Rodríguez is a musician of great brilliance and versatility. He has gained recognition as a virtuoso pianist who not only generates excitement in the Hispanic and Spanish repertoire but also displays an extraordinary flair for Mozart, the Romantics and the Avant-garde scores. He has recorded for Omicron and Brioso labels and has won the highest critical acclaim for his CD of Spanish music, "Espana en el coraz6n," distributed by Brioso Recordings. At home on early instruments as well, he has enjoyed entree to the Smithsonian Institution's rare collection and was chosen by the Smithsonian to perform during the 300th year celebration of the piano by the museum. He was also invited to participate in the 150th anniversary celebration of the Smithsonian Institution.Rodríguez has won acclaim as music director of Mozart operas and Zarzuelas (Spanish operettas), and as a composer, arranger and improviser of ballets, Spanish dance scores and Latin-Jazz/Pop compositions.

As concert-pianist, Rodríguez made his recital debut in his native Venezuela at age five and made his orchestral debut as soloist at age 11. Soon after he arrived in the United States to continue his music studies, Rodríguez was a finalist in the New York Philharmonic Young People's Competition. At age 21 he made his Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall debut. As concert-artist he has toured Europe and performed concerti and solo recitals throughout the Americas. Venues in which he has performed include the John F. Kennedy Center; the White House, the Corcoran Gallery and National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; Merkin Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Americas Society and the 92nd Street Y in New York; and the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria.

As chamber music artist, Rodríguez has been guest artist with the Garth Newell Chamber Music Festival and is a frequent guest artist of the National Chamber Ensemble. As collaborative artist, he has worked with Denyce Graves, Jessye Norman and Placido Domingo. 

As conductor, Rodríguez has performed throughout the Americas. In 2005 he was chosen as award recipient of the prestigious Georg Solti Foundation U.S. fellowship for outstanding young conductors. With the encouragement and collaboration of Maestro Placido Domingo, Rodríguez became founder and coordinator of the Zarzuela Program (Spanish operetta) for the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program with Washington National Opera in 2002. In addition, he continues to be sought after as music director/conductor of Zarzuela productions and of Spanish operas in the United States and the Americas.

Rodríguez earned his Bachelor of Music with Clifton Matthews (Rodríguez' mentor) from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, his Master of Music from The Juilliard School with Joseph Kalichstein and his Doctor of Musical Arts , conferred summa cum laude, with Thomas Schumacher at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Recently Rodríguez became the founding artistic director of ROMEZ3arts, an organization that builds community and intercultural awareness through music. Its goal is to engage, enrich and empower others through intercultural exchanges, most recently, in Cuba and Costa Rica. He continues to be music director for WORD Dance Theatre and will appear with them at the Kennedy Center's REACH in March for the 100th anniversary of Women's Suffrage. Recently he toured as pianist in Poland and Italy, performing the music of Chopin, with The Isadora Duncan International Institute. He continues to teach at the Selma M. Levine School of Music in Washington, D.C. 

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October 28, 2020