Home is where you unpack your suitcase and set out your family photos, but for Tucson Symphony Orchestra’s new conductor José Luis Gomez, home so far is the Tucson Music Hall downtown and the Tucson Symphony Center near Mansfield Park.
And “it’s restaurants. It’s downtown, which I love. Already I would say it’s one of those wonderful things that you don’t actually have to have a physical place to call home,” he said last Friday after unveiling his inaugural 2017-18 season. “In such a short time I feel so welcome.”
In September, Gomez, who was named last year to succeed longtime conductor George Hanson, will paint a musical picture of home and his roots, from his native Venezuela to his adopted home in Italy. He’ll weave in many of the stops he’s made along the way in a career that started when he was a child violin protegé to his stunning 2010 first-place finish at the prestigious International Sir Georg Solti Conductors’ Competition .
Gomez has peppered the season with works that reflect his musical heritage and influences.
“I love the personal links with works that were part of my childhood, growing up as a musician,” he said. “Links also to my family influences, like the Debussy Prelude (to ‘The Afternoon of a Faun’ on the Oct. 20 classic concert), which was one of my father’s specialties. He was a flutist.”
Gomez was concertmaster of the Youth Orchestra of Zulia State — part of renown El Sistema de Orquestas Juveniles de Venezuela — when he first played Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4. TSO Concertmaster Lauren Roth will perform it in the MasterWorks chamber series in October. His season opener features the TSO premiere of Venezuelan composer Carreño’s “Margariteña,” a piece that he played dozens of times in the youth orchestra.
Gomez said he hopes the season will showcase his curiosity to program lesser played works; there are 15 TSO premieres next season and a world premiere of the TSO’s first commission from an alumnus of its Young Composers Project.
“I am always curious about discovering works that are less played,” he said. “I have a very standard repertoire, but I also normally tend to show my curiosity side.”
Other highlights of the 2017-18 season include a special All Souls Procession concert Nov. 3 featuring Mariachi Los Camperos; “Warner Bros. Presents Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II” family concert Nov. 25 and 26; violinist Gil Shaham performing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto Jan. 12, 2018; and a SuperPops concert with Grammy-winning trumpeter Arturo Sandoval Jan. 13 and 14.