Today we’d like to introduce you to Angel Velez.
Angel, before we jump into specific questions about your work, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Thank you for inviting me for this interview. I would first like to clearly state I do not feel I have “arrived” in any way, rather am continuing on my journey of growing in my professional, and personal, life. I have been very fortunate to have been presented opportunities in my career that have allowed me to grow and continue to hone my craft and share my love of music making. I am forever indebted to many people in my life whom I have learned, and continue to learn, from thanks to their kindness, generosity, patience, forgiveness and common goal of wanting to raise the bar of quality music-making; their words of wisdom continue to guide my direction and focus.
Although the majority of my work now is known to be involved in the orchestra and film music worlds, my career began in the band world thanks to unexpected and incredible opportunities to work first as an adjunct professor at Taylor University and then as Director of Bands at Marian University in Indianapolis, Indiana. I eventually relocated to Los Angeles where I began working as an orchestrator and doing more studio conducting while attending the University of Southern California. During this time I also won an audition with the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra as Assistant Conductor and Music Director of their youth orchestra as well as being offered a job to stay in Southern California to teach at Malibu High School and Santa Monica College. I prepared my entire life to work as an orchestra conductor and winning an audition appeared to be the best entry to that career, however with my son on the way at that very same time, and learning this position would not include health insurance, I instead decided to take the teaching positions and remain in Southern California. I knew it was the right thing to do for my family, but I thought I was killing my chances at a career as an orchestral conductor, but I distinctly remember making my peace with my decision that my goal was to have a life in music, no matter if I made lots of money, achieved fame, or had the career I originally dreamt of. Instead, I decided I wanted a life where I could make music at the very best I was capable of and sharing it, no matter if it were with a local community ensemble or with sold out concerts with a professional orchestra somewhere across the globe.
I am forever grateful to my late teacher, Donald Thulean, who reminded me that family comes first and who helped me realize that life does not present you with just one opportunity, rather others come along, and it is one’s ability to recognize them and be prepared to seize them when they arrive. Little did I know it would be the beginning of a career that would keep me busier than I could ever have imagined, doing precisely what I love doing, making music and sharing my joy of it with others. As Don would tell me “coraggio”, be brave.
Has it been a smooth road?
Of course not, but it was the right road for me at that time. The challenge always is to stay positive and to treat experiences, whether positive or negative, as opportunities to learn more about myself and others. I have failed many times, both in my personal and professional lives, but I hope to not make the same mistakes and to use these experiences as opportunities to sharpen my skills. Growing can be painful, especially as adults when we tend to view life via a lens where we expect ourselves to not fail as much as we think we should. Fortunately, I have had many people share their kindness, patience, generosity and forgiveness and allow me the chance to continue to grow and become better. I have a long way to go still and, as I often joke when I meet with younger musicians seeking advice, “this will take me a couple of lifetimes to figure out.”
We’d love to hear more about your work.
I work as a conductor and teacher. I am the Co-founder/Director of the Los Angeles Film Conducting Intensive, Artistic Director/Conductor for Silent Films LIVE, Conductor of the Santa Monica Chamber Orchestra, Music Director for the upcoming American Society of Cinematographers Awards, and father to the most amazing little boy, Louis (the BEST job ever). From studio conducting for projects such as Star Wars: The Clone Wars to guest conducting professional orchestras around the world, to teaching with the Los Angeles Film Conducting Intensive, I have been very blessed with these opportunities to create and share my love of music making.
The Los Angeles Film Conducting Intensive (LAFCI) was co-founded with composer/conductor David Newman, as a professional development program designed to address the needs of media composers in their role as conductors to further elevate the quality of music making in the studio world. Especially in an age where technology continues to redefine how composers approach music making, we believe conducting can elevate this process, just as done in the past by the great composers, who were also synonymous in being great conductors, such as Alfred Newman, Dimitri Tiomkin, André Previn, John Williams and others.
We have been very fortunate to see our program grow more and more each year and have found it necessary to include additional topics to better address the needs of the modern media composer, such as orchestration, score/part preparation, body movement, composition, including the use of additional technologies such as conducting with variable clicks and working with punches and streamers (a visual method of synchronizing music to picture). I could not be more honored and humbled to also have some of the industry’s most respected and gifted leaders and teachers join our faculty, such as Emilie Bernstein (Good Body Pilates Studio), Jorge Mester (Orquesta Filarmónica de Boca del Río), Conrad Pope (My Week with Marilyn), William Ross (Destination Wedding), and Booker White (Walt Disney Studios). Aside from The Intensive, LAFCI’s annual workshop at Warner Bros. Studios, we also created the Summer Session workshop and concert along with Masterclass, a one-day conducting course held at Capitol Studios.
There is so much I am proud of. From the growth my colleagues and I see of each participant in every workshop, to the inspiring music and ever growing body of impressive work created by our alumni, to how our program has evolved to better address the needs of the modern media composer while using conducting as its vehicle for artistic expression, and in LAFCI creating a community of professionals that work to support each other in our endeavors to make the best music possible. I am beyond humbled by the team I get to work with and their devotion to holding our craft to the highest standards.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Los Angeles is an incredible city to make music. We are home to some of the best musicians in the world and this city is full of opportunity, you just need to be hungry, creative, and willing to find it.
- Website: www.lafci.org
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @la.fci
- Facebook: LosAngelesFilmConductingIntensive
Walden Photography, Mike Roque, Mannheimer Morgen, Maclaine Diemer