Eric Garcia struck the right note with the Boise Philharmonic musicians, board and administration with his elegance on the podium, incisive musicality and savvy business instincts.
Now, after the orchestra’s season-long international search, Garcia is the company’s new music director.
Garcia is relocating to Boise from Oklahoma City, where he was director of orchestral activities and an associate professor of conducting at Oklahoma City University’s Bass School of Music.
While some symphony conductors opt to commute so that they can accommodate multiple directing and job responsibilities, Garcia is leaving his position in Oklahoma to take on the Boise Philharmonic full time.
“I felt like that was the best way to do the job,” Garcia says. “In order for me to forge relationships and get to know the community and the musicians, it is necessary for me to be there. I’m so excited to be coming to Boise.”
Originally from the small town of Temple, Texas, Garcia, 38, is a percussionist, composer and conductor. He’s had a diverse career that includes being an assistant conductor at the Seattle Symphony and a frequent guest conductor in the Northwest. He’s also worked with pop and rock musicians such as Brandi Carlile and Herbie Hancock, and collaborated with composers such as John Adams and George Crumb.
He felt an immediate affinity for Boise when he came in March for his audition week. Garcia led an electrifying performance of an all-Russian program that culminated with Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony.
“My week there was magical both on and off the podium,” Garcia says.
Garcia arrives in Boise in July to start work.
What drew you to the Boise Philharmonic job?
The Boise Philharmonic is an orchestra that has a palpable sense of drive, initiative and momentum. There is a great communal quality with this orchestra that is rare among symphony orchestras.
What is on your wish list?
To continue to develop relationships with the great composers of our time. Living composers hold a mirror to who we are as a culture. It is a great orchestra’s duty to be part of that equation.
Who is your biggest musical influence?
Leonard Bernstein. He was the first conductor I remember seeing footage of as a child, and he was completely mesmerizing with his scope of knowledge and expressive musicality. To me, he encompassed and defined what it meant to be a conductor and educator.
Besides music, what do you do for fun?
I am an avid foreign film buff.
What three movies would you most like to watch on a trans-Atlantic flight?
Woody Allen’s “Crimes and Misdemeanors” (1989), Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968) and Federico Fellini’s comedy “Amarcord” (1973).
Who or what inspires you?
My friends and colleagues. I am continually inspired by the achievements and perseverance of others.
In all of history, with whom would you most like to dine? What would you like to ask?
Mozart. “Amadeus” — thumbs up or thumbs down?
If you could go back and redo one moment in your life, what would it be?
None. All moments in our lives have led to who we are now.
What’s the hardest lesson you’ve ever had to learn?
To not overthink things.
What surprised you most about Boise?
How much the omnipresent nature and city are seamlessly intertwined.
If you weren’t a musical director and conductor, what would you be doing?
Working as a writer on a sitcom produced by Tina Fey.
What is your theme song?
“It’s A Lovely Day Today,” arranged and recorded by orchestra leader Hugo Montenegro.
What is on your bedside reading table?
“Groucho: The Life and Times of Julius Henry Marx,” by Stefan Kanfer.
What’s your favorite drum solo?
Buddy Rich with the Harry James Orchestra playing “Two O’Clock Jump” (1964).
What is the secret to your success?
Learning from the wisdom of others.
Beer or wine?
Impossible to choose; depends on what I am eating.
Dog or cat?
I love both! My dog Eddie, a Chihuahua-Yorkie mix, apart from being the most handsome dog I have ever seen, enjoys daily trips to Starbucks. I adopted him from a rescue group, and I cannot express how appreciative I am of these organizations and their cause.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Boise Philharmonic 2017-18 season
Performances on at 8 p.m. on Fridays at Swayne Auditorium, 707 Fern St., Northwest Nazarene University, Nampa, and 8 p.m. Saturdays at the Morrison Center, 2201 Cesar Chavez Lane, Boise, unless otherwise noted.
▪ Sept. 29-30: “Carmina Burana” with the Boise Philharmonic Master Chorale, Ravel’s “La Valse Poème Choréographique.”
▪ Oct. 20-21: Berloiz’s Symphony Fantastique, Mason Bates’ “Attack Decay Sustain Release,” Babriel Fauré’s “Pelléas et Mélisande.”
▪ Nov. 11-12*: “Music of the Americas” features soprano Cecilia Violetta Lopez performing Heitor Villa Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5, plus Barber’s Adagio for Strings and “Knoxville Summer of 1915” and Copland’s “Three Latin American Sketches.”
▪ Dec. 8-9: Holiday Pops, seasonal songs and more with the Master Chorale.
▪ Jan. 26-27, 2018: Violinist Stephen Waarts will play the Bruch Concerto for Violin No. 1, plus Schoenberg’s “Finding Rothko” and Beethoven’s 7th Symphony.
▪ Feb. 23-24, 2018: “Romeos and Juliets” features Prokofiev’s “R&J” Suite No. 2, Tchaikovsky’s “R&J” overture-fantasy, and Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from “West Side Story.”
▪ May 5-6, 2018*: Pianist Andrew Tyson plays Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2, plus Smetana’s “The Bartered Bride” Overture and Dvorak’s Symphony No 9 “From the New World.”
* Concert is at 3 p.m. Sunday in Nampa.
Season tickets run $113 to $483 in Boise, $90 to $300 in Nampa at BoisePhil.org.
▪ Handel’s “Messiah,” 8 p.m. Dec. 1-2, St. John’s Cathedral, 775 N. 8th St., Boise. $25 in advance until Oct. 31, $35 at the door.
▪ Silent Films with Orchestra with organist Ben Model, 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, Egyptian Theatre, 700 W. Main St., Boise. $15, $20 and $25
▪ Broadway Pops with tenor Doug LaBrecque, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 10, 2018, Morrison Center. Tickets TBA.