José L. Elizondo


Music has been José Elizondo's passion since he was 5, when he began performing in concerts and participating in piano and organ competitions at a national level in Mexico. From an early age, José received awards and recognition from institutions like FONAPAS (Mexico's National Fund for Social and Artistic Activities) and the International Yamaha Music Foundation.


José moved to Boston, where he received degrees in Music and Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At Harvard University, he studied musical analysis, orchestration and conducting. His main teachers at MIT and Harvard were professors Peter Child, Edward Cohen, Lowell Lindgren, Bill Cutter, James Yannatos, Constance DeFotis and Jameson Marvin.


José wrote his first composition for orchestra, Estampas Mexicanas, as an assignment for a class taught by MIT Professor Peter Child. Thanks to the efforts of Professor David Epstein and distinguished conductor Alan Pierson –who at the time was José's classmate–, Estampas Mexicanas was performed at MIT in 1995. The professional premiere of his composition took place soon after that, at an outdoor concert of the San Jose Symphony in California. The orchestra was conducted by maestro Leonid Grin, a personal friend and collaborator of Leonard Bernstein and music director of several orchestras in Europe and North America. The performance was enthusiastically received with a standing ovation from a crowd of approximately 25,000 people.


Estampas Mexicanas has since been performed at over 150 concerts by orchestras in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Americas. The composition has taken on a life of its own. For example, it has been choreographed and performed by several ballet and folk dance companies. People from several countries have created short videos of themselves singing the main melody of Estampas Mexicanas in a variety of locations, such as Machu Picchu (Peru), Hobbiton (New Zealand), Ankor Wat (Cambodia), the Azadi Tower (Iran), the Taj Mahal (India), and even Antarctica.


José's other symphonic, choral and chamber music is also performed frequently around the world. Recent recordings of his music include the album "Of Birds And Lemons" by the Moravian Philharmonic (Czech Republic) and the album "Latin Romance" by Şefika Kutluer and the Bratislava Strings Orchestra (Slovakia). His compositions have been featured at the Banff International Festival in Canada, the Ayton Castle Music Festival in Scotland, the Laboratorio Novamusica Contemporary Music Series in Italy, the ADUR Festival in England, the Şefika Kutluer International Festival in Turkey, as well as the America Festival, the Hispanic Heritage Festival, and the Mexican Journeys Festival in the United States.


José wrote Danzas Latinoamericanas for legendary Mexican cellist Carlos Prieto. Other internationally acclaimed performers of his works include cellists Álvaro Bitrán (of the Latin American String Quartet) and Robert Deutsch (of the Houston Symphony Orchestra); as well as flautists Şefika Kutluer and Orlando Cela.


José's music has been performed by over 80 orchestras around the world. He is particularly proud of his collaboration with youth orchestras. For example, the Brighton Youth Orchestra (UK), conducted by maestro Andrew Sherwood, has performed his compositions in England, Scotland, France, Italy, Zimbabwe and the Congo. Maestro Wayne Toews has conducted José's music with the Saskatoon Youth Orchestra and several other orchestras in Canada in a number of performances and educational projects. José considers maestros Andrew Sherwood, Wayne Toews and Sergio Buslje (music director of several orchestras in Washington, Honduras and Argentina) as his most influential mentors, at a personal and professional level. In particular, their support during a period of medical challenges motivated José to turn those experiences into some of his most heartfelt compositions.




MIT awarded José the Gregory Tucker Memorial Prize for Music, and selected him as a Burchard Scholar. He has also been the recipient of several grants by the MIT Council for the Arts for the production of contemporary music concerts, with an emphasis on works by Latin American composers. The Fideicomiso para la Cultura Mexico-USA, the Humanities Council of Washington DC, and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities have provided support and sponsorship for projects involving José's music. The Governor of Massachusetts and the Mayor of Boston have given him certificates of recognition for his “outstanding and exemplary work for the Mexican community” and his “commitment and dedication to the Mexican community in the City of Boston”.




Elizondo combines his love for music with his interest in linguistics by working as a language and diction coach for distinguished choral ensembles. In 1999, Elizondo collaborated with the critically acclaimed Cantata Singers in the preparation of a series of concerts and a recording of Peter Child's "Estrella". He also worked with the Boston Camerata in their 1999 production of "Nueva España" for performances in the Boston Early Music Festival and their tour of France. Elizondo is active as a coach for professional ensembles, coaching them on the pronunciation of modern and ancient languages. He has also been invited in several occasions to lecture at Harvard University and at the University of Vienna on the topic of phonetics as applied to vocal technique.




In addition to his musical endeavors, José has pursued his scientific and engineering interests. During his early life, he received national awards in Mexico for achievement in Mathematics. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, José participated in undergraduate research projects for NASA, the Plasma Fusion Center and the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. At age 23, José worked briefly in Mexico as an Associate Professor of Mathematics and Scientific Methods. And more recently, he has worked in Boston at Nuance Communications with teams of engineers and language experts, developing state-of-the-art, multilingual, speech-recognition technology systems. José's articles on technology, user-interface design and multilingual technology systems have been published in industry journals in Europe, Asia and North America. He has given presentations and conducted workshops on cross-cultural design in Venezuela, Japan, Mexico, Austria, England and the United States.