In 2008, Chilean conductor Maximiano Valdés was named music director and principal conductor of the Puerto Rico Symphony in San Juan. Recently ending a 16-year tenure as music director of the Orquesta Sinfonica del Principado de Asturias in Spain and now the orchestra’s conductor laureate, he is also the former music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic.
Valdes served as chief conductor of both the orchestra and opera at the Teatro Municipal in Santiago, Chile, where he returns annually for both symphonic and opera performances and is currently the music director of the Chilean Youth Orchestra. In March 2010, Valdés also accepted the position of artistic director of the Festival Casals in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
He made his American symphonic debut in October 1987 with the Buffalo Philharmonic and was immediately reinvited for the following season. After a successful return to the orchestra in 1989, he was appointed music director, a position he held for almost 10 years. In North America, he has guest conducted many leading orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the St. Louis, National, Montreal, Baltimore, Seattle, Houston, Dallas and New World symphonies and the Calgary Philharmonic. Summer festival appearances have included engagements at the Caramoor, Interlochen, Grand Teton, Music Academy of the West and Grant Park festivals.
In addition to regular appearances with the Buffalo Philharmonic, recent and upcoming guest-conducting engagements include the Indianapolis, Vancouver, Colorado, Phoenix, San Diego, Alabama and Toledo symphonies; the Louisiana Philharmonic; the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, and the Eastern Music and Chautauqua festivals. In October 2011, Mr. Valdés led the Orquesta Sinfonica del Principado de Asturias in a concert for the Pope at the Vatican and he was one of the first international conductors to conduct the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Cuba in Havana in January 2016.
Beginning with the 2021-22 season, Valdés was appointed the distinguished professor of musicology at the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan. He also received an honorary doctorate degree. In August 2022, he took the Puerto Rico Symphony to Chicago for a historic performance in Orchestra Hall. Sponsored by the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, the orchestra presented a program of popular and classical works by composers associated with Puerto Rico.
An experienced opera conductor who has led productions in many of Europe's leading opera houses, Valdés made his highly successful opera debut conducting La traviata at the Nice Opera. Since then he has conducted productions in Paris, Lausanne, Rome, Berlin, London, Barcelona, Oslo, Copenhagen, Bonn, Asturias and Santiago, Chile. Valdés made his American operatic debut with the Seattle Opera conducting Cosi fan tutte and returned there in the fall of 1998 to lead Gounod's Faust. Recent opera appearances include Katya Kabanova, Samson and Delilah, Ravel’s L’heure Espagnole and Poulenc’s Les Mamelles de Tiresias in Oviedo, Spain; Romeo and Juliet, Otello, Tosca and Madama Butterfly in San Juan; Lakmé, Damnation of Faust, Rigoletto and Der Rosenkavalier at the Teatro Municipal in Santiago, Chile, and Don Carlo in Madrid.
Born in Santiago, Chile, Valdés began his studies in piano and violin at the Conservatory of Music in Santiago and continued his studies at the Accademia de Santa Cecilia in Rome, where he took courses in composition and conducting. Completing his diploma in piano, he decided to concentrate entirely on conducting and enrolled in the conducting classes of Franco Ferrara in Bologna, Siena and Venice, and worked with Sergiu Celibidache in Stuttgart and Paris. In 1976, Valdés was engaged as assistant conductor at the Teatro la Fenice in Venice and the following year was a conducting fellow at Tanglewood, where he worked with Leonard Bernstein and Seiji Ozawa. He won first prize at the Nicolai Malko Competition in Copenhagen, first prize at the Vittorio Gui Competition in Florence and second prize at the Rupert Foundation Conducting Competition in London.
Valdés has recorded with London’s Royal Philharmonic, the Monte Carlo and Nice Philharmonics, and the Simon Bolivar Orchestra and had an exclusive agreement with Naxos to record works by Latin American and Spanish composers with his orchestra in Asturias. His most recent recording is a CD of works by Roberto Sierra with the Puerto Rico Symphony, also for Naxos.