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Albuquerque Journal

Pact Composed For The Maestro

New Mexico Symphony Orchestra's music director Figueroa gets new five-year contract

By David Steinberg, Journal Staff Writer

September 19, 2003
Copyright © 2003 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved. 

The New Mexico Symphony Orchestra reported Thursday it has given Guillermo Figueroa a new five-year contract as its music director.

Figueroa is starting the final year of a three-year NMSO contract. The new contract begins at the start of the 2004-05 season. The symphony hired him two years ago.

"I'm absolutely thrilled and excited," he said. "I'm getting a modest pay increase over what I'm earning now."

Neither Figueroa nor Dominic Bernardi, chairman of the NMSO's board of trustees, nor Mark Amo, the NMSO's marketing/public relations director, would say how much the music director is making under the current or the new contract.

Amo said it is the symphony's policy not to comment publicly on individual musician or staff salaries.

Figueroa said he was surprised at the new contract's length because a three-year deal is the usual period that orchestras give their music directors.

By giving him five years, Figueroa said that not only does the contract provide him and his family stability but it also provides the orchestra with the same.

"It allows me to think in terms of long-term planning in what we want to do with the orchestra and I'll be around to see that happen," he said.

One plan Figueroa has is for the NMSO to develop a chamber music series.

Playing in small groups gives orchestral musicians incentives "for practicing and staying in shape," he said.

Figueroa said the NMSO is understanding of his commitments to the Puerto Rico Symphony and to other engagements that he may have.

A native of Puerto Rico, Figueroa also serves as the music director of the symphony that is based in the capital of San Juan.

Figueroa said that he's thinking about guest-conducting and other professional opportunities that he wants to explore.

He said that he and the NMSO board of trustees just concluded negotiations over the new contract and the board approved it Wednesday.

Under terms of the contract, Figueroa will conduct eight sets of the NMSO's 11 Classics Series concerts each season as well as its Mozart Festival, Symphony Under the Stars, neighborhood concerts and the orchestra's state tours.

In a prepared statement, Bernardi said, "Like a good marriage, it is apparent that this is a wonderful relationship that everyone -- the public, the musicians and the NMSO board -- wants to see last."

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