Now in his 10th season as music director of the Phoenix Symphony, Tito Muñoz has appeared with many prominent U.S. orchestras, including those of Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, New York, Utah and Washington, D.C.
Born in Queens, New York, of Ecuadorian and Colombian heritage, Muñoz began his musical training as a violinist in New York City public schools. He attended the LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts, the Juilliard School’s Music Advancement Program and the Manhattan School of Music Pre-College Division. At Queens College, he was a violin student of Daniel Phillips. He studied conducting at the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen, where he was student of David Zinman and Murry Sidlin. He won the Aspen Music Festival’s 2005 Robert J. Harth Conductor Prize and the 2006 Aspen Conducting Prize.
Muñoz previously served as music director of the Opéra National de Lorraine and the Orchestre symphonique et lyrique de Nancy in France. Other appointments include assistant conductor posts with the Cleveland Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and the Aspen Music Festival.
Munoz’s exposure to classical music began after an older cousin took up the violin. “I saw him and thought that looks cool,” he recalled in an interview with the Cincinnati Post. “I remember the first time I took the violin home. I felt like this is what I wanted to do.” Next came a free Saturday program at Juilliard for African-American and Latino students. “That’s what hooked me. The teachers would take us to their performances. Some played on Broadway, so we got to see what it was like in the pit.”
His first experience of conducting came at age 16 via the French Woods Festival, a performing arts camp in upstate New York. “That experience I really cherish because I was basically just thrown into it. It’s very hard because you get put into a situation where you’ve got to be the boss, but at the same time you have to try to learn as much as you can. Every conducting teacher and every conductor will say that the only way to learn conducting is just doing it.”
He made his professional conducting debut in 2006 with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, invited by Leonard Slatkin as a participant of the National Conducting Institute. That same year, he made his Cleveland Orchestra debut at the Blossom Music Festival. He was awarded the 2009 Mendelssohn Scholarship sponsored by Kurt Masur and the Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Foundation in Leipzig and was a prize winner in the 2010 Sir Georg Solti International Conducting Competition in Frankfurt.
As a proponent of new music, Muñoz champions contemporary composers through expanded programming, commissions, premieres and recordings. During his tenure at the Opéra National de Lorraine, he conducted the critically acclaimed premiere of Gerald Barry’s opera The Importance of Being Earnest. He led the world premiere of Michael Hersch’s monodrama On the Threshold of Winter at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2014, followed by the premiere of his Violin Concerto with Patricia Kopatchinskaja and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in 2015, a piece they also recorded with the International Contemporary Ensemble on the New Focus label, released in 2018.
Most recently he gave the world and European premieres of Hersch’s I hope we get a chance to visit soon at the Ojai and Aldeburgh Festivals and the world premiere of the script of storms with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London.
Munoz’s latest disc, “Dependent Arising,” on the Chicago-based Cedille label, features concertos by Dmitri Shostakovich and Earl Maneein, performed by the Scottish Royal National Orchestra and Rachel Barton Pine.
Please note: Biographies are based on information provided to the CSO by the artists or their representatives. More current information may be available on websites of the artists or their management.