Described as “expressive and passionate” (Malaysian Straits Times) and lauded by the Leipziger Volkszeitung as an “impressive conductor… who is elegantly demanding,” Portuguese-American Jacomo Rafael Bairos enjoys an emerging career as an imaginative and inclusive conductor, ardent champion of living American composers, and dedicated collaborator and educator.
After an extensive two-year search involving more than 200 applicants from around the world, in 2013 Bairos became the Amarillo Symphony’s 17th Music Director and Conductor. He has garnered quick praise for his fresh and inventive programming, community-driven initiatives, and commissioning and performance of works by living composers. His adventurous collaborations with actors and graphic artists—as well as his use of technology to enhance and bring more excitement to the concert experience—have helped transform the Amarillo Symphony into a vehicle for community partnerships. For the coming season, the symphony’s 90th, he has established the first-ever Composer-in-Residence with young American Chris Rogerson and the WTAMU Young Composers Initiative.
Bairos also is in high demand as a guest conductor across the United States and abroad, annually working with some of America’s finest ensembles, including the Florida Orchestra and the Atlanta, Charlotte, and Charleston Symphony Orchestras, among others. Next season, his subscription performances include the Atlanta, Alabama, and Charleston Symphonies, where he will collaborate with Musical America’s Instrumentalist of the Year pianist Jeremy Denk. Additional 2014–15 performances include a debut on the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra’s Pops and Family series, and returns for subscriptions with the Greater Bridgeport Symphony Orchestra. Bairos also returns to the Florida Orchestra for several weeks of diverse programing, which include working with platinum-selling singer-songwriter Ben Folds. Internationally, Bairos makes Latin-American debuts with the Orquesta Sinfónica Provincial of Santa Fe Argentina and the Orquesta Sinfónica Universidad de Guanajuato of Mexico.
During the 2013–14 season, Bairos’s debuts included the St. Louis, Lake Forest, and Greater Bridgeport Symphony Orchestras. Additional previous engagements include the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, and Orquesta National do Porto (ONP, Portugal)—as well as the Singapore, Iceland, Leipzig (Germany), Jacksonville, North Carolina, Tallahassee, and Bangor Symphony Orchestras. In addition, his 2009 debut recording of Raw Emotions with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra—which featured concertos by living North American composers—was met with critical acclaim from Fanfare Magazine.
As Associate Conductor for the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Bairos reached thousands of enthusiastic listeners through the broad spectrum of concerts he programmed and conducted, including the innovative KnightSounds and heralded Pops series. From 2010 through 2013, he premiered new music on every series he conducted and reinvented famous classics by employing modern twists on his family, education, outreach, and parks concerts.
Some of Bairos’s diverse and eclectic artist collaborations include appearances with famed American pianist Garrick Ohlsen, violin virtuoso Shlomo Mintz, acclaimed guitarist Milo Karadagli, GRAMMY-nominated Tiempo Libre, and the eclectic crossover group ProjectTrio.
A committed educator, Bairos and the Amarillo Symphony have introduced Class Act, which passionately presents music performances, lessons, and lectures to schools across the Texas panhandle. Along with regularly coaching and conducting the Amarillo Youth Orchestras, Bairos has crafted programs and concerts that enrich the lives of thousands of children across the Carolinas, Missouri, Texas, and his native Portugal. In 2010, he was the Music Director for the National Youth Orchestra Festival of Portugal and previously worked with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids program to create hands-on educational workshops for children in underserved urban communities.
His conducting mentors include esteemed teacher of conductors Gustav Meier, as well as Robert Spano and Kurt Masur. After participating in the 2012 Kurt Masur Conductors Seminar in New York City—where he shared the podium with Maestro Masur in concert—Bairos was awarded the prestigious and highly selective Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Scholarship by the US Mendelssohn Foundation and Maestro Masur. Bairos subsequently traveled to Germany to conduct concerts with the Leipzig Symphony Orchestra, assist at the Gewandhaus Orchestra, and further his studies and mentorship with Maestro Masur. A 2010 and 2012 student of the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen, Bairos also has worked closely with Marin Alsop, Jorma Panula, Hugh Wolff, Larry Ratcleff and Leon Fleisher.
As an accomplished and award-winning tubist, Bairos has given master classes and performed with festivals and orchestras around the world. New York Magazine praised his solo performances in the Juilliard Focus Festival of 1998 as one of the “instrumental highs of the festival.” At age 18, he was the first tubist in the history of the Aspen Music Festival to win the festival-wide concerto competition. Bairos has performed, toured, and recorded with the New York Philharmonic and the symphony orchestras of Chicago, Cincinnati, and Seattle. He has held principal posts with orchestras in America, Spain, and China. His most recent work as a tubist was from 2004 to 2007 as principal for the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.