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Columbus Makes Art Presents Music Director Luis Biava on Musical Memories and What’s on His Plate

Heather Garner Heather Garner Columbus Makes Art Presents Music Director Luis Biava on Musical Memories and What’s on His PlateThe New Albany Symphony's 10th Anniversary Concert. Photo by Jack Garner.
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Luis Biava is currently the Music Director of the New Albany Symphony Orchestra and Principal Cellist of the Columbus Symphony. Originally from Bogotá, Colombia, Biava has made central Ohio home for the last 36 years. He will appear next on the podium at the McCoy Center for the Arts with the New Albany Symphony in Songs About Ohio (May 1) and Songs From the Heartland (May 2). We chatted with Biava about his most memorable musical moments and what’s next on his plate, literally.

Heather: What is your earliest musical memory?
Luis: I remember running around in the Teatro Colon, a beautiful opera house in Bogota, Colombia as my father conducted the orchestra and my mom listened in the house. The hall had about four or five tiers and I would go up and down the stairs and go into the boxes and listen. I don’t remember what music was playing but it could have been Beethoven or any standard piece. Now I know that Colombian composers like Holguin, Ateorthua, Leon and Valencia were also featured as well as Bartok and Stravinsky.

Conducting Radetzky March (credit Jack Garner)
The New Albany Symphony. Photo by Jack Garner.

Heather: What has been your most memorable moment on stage and why?
Luis: I have been honored to work with great artists like Hilary Hahn, David Finckel and other great soloists, but one of the most memorable was when I played the Beethoven Triple with the New Albany Symphony. My father Luis Biava Sr. was conducting, my wife Ariane Sletner was playing violin and my aunt Blanca Uribe was playing the piano. Our families were in the audience and our young niece and nephew, Sophia and Zach, both violinists, came to the stage with flowers. My brother Peter has also played in the orchestra with his son Jonathan. As always, the orchestra sounded great and everything lined up in a very special and musical way.

Heather: What is your favorite thing about working with the musicians of the New Albany Symphony?
Luis: My favorite things about the New Albany musicians are their ability to play such varied programs of different styles and genres in a professional way and at a high level of musicality. They are always positive and respectful of each other. I try to have the orchestra be a family united together in music and they definitely achieve that.

Heather: We’ve all been dreaming of travel — where are you dreaming of venturing to when the world allows us to explore again?
Luis: Well, I have to say that after all the suffering and loss, one looks at the world with a new appreciation since we have all been through this together. If possible, we hope to visit the music, art and cultural places of the world like Italy, Austria and other locations. That would be a dream at this time.

Heather: We are all dying to know… what are you eating for dinner tonight and what music is playing while you cook?
Luis: Well today we had margherita and pepperoni pizza, salad, apples with walnuts and chocolate chip cookies. We listened to Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony and Colombian Cumbias. As far as cooking — we are making many of my mother’s recipes including balsamic vinaigrette marinated chicken, arroz con pollo, arepas and pork chops with soy sauce and brown sugar. I use a CD player with many CDs on shuffle suggested by cello colleague Tom Guth. I also listen to classical music, Bill Evans and other jazz, Hamza el Din, Beatles, Latin music… it’s always different every time.

Heather: What’s the best thing about the Columbus art scene right now?
Luis: The fact that so many Columbus arts organizations are still finding ways to provide programming in the midst of a pandemic is just incredible. We are fortunate to live in a city with a vibrant arts scene, and I think we are all looking forward to the day when we can gather again in sold-out concert halls.

See Biava and the New Albany Symphony perform on-stage at the McCoy Center for the Arts in New Albany, May 1 at 11:30 a.m. in Songs About Ohio (sensory friendly show) and May 2 at 3 p.m. in Songs From the Heartland. For tickets and more information visit www.newalbanysymphony.com.

Columbus Makes Art Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting and advancing the arts and cultural fabric of Columbus. The column is a project of the Art Makes Columbus campaign, telling the inspiring stories of the people and organizations who create Columbus art. Learn more about local artists, organizations, public art and events at ColumbusMakesArt.com.

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