Jose L. Elizondo

Engineer and

International Classical Music Composer and Orchestra Conductor


José L. Elizondo (b. 1972) received degrees in Music, Humanities and Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where his main composition teachers were Peter Child and Edward Cohen. At Harvard University, he studied musical analysis, orchestration and conducting with Robert Levin, James Yannatos and Jameson Marvin respectively.

Performances of his works

Elizondo's symphonic, choral and chamber music is performed frequently around the world. Performers of his works include distinguished soloists such as cellists Robert Deutsch (Houston Symphony Orchestra), Leonid Gulchin and Carlos Prieto, as well as over 70 orchestras, including the national symphony orchestras of Kazakhstan and Honduras, the symphony orchestras of Santa Cruz and San Jose California in the United States, the Nuevo León, Coyoacán and Mexico State symphony orchestras in Mexico, and the Canberra Orchestra in Australia. Award-winning youth orchestras, such as the Brighton Youth Orchestra in England, the Vermont Youth Orchestra in the United States, the Saskatoon Youth Orchestra and the Surrey Youth Orchestra in Canada also perform his music frequently.

In 2002, the Pan American Symphony Orchestra presented a month-long festival featuring the complete symphonic works of Elizondo, as well as the world premiere of three of his compositions for orchestra. In addition to the concerts, the festival included a series of lectures given by Elizondo in collaboration with two of Mexico’s most distinguished composers: Arturo Márquez and Samuel Zyman.

Elizondo's compositions have been featured at numerous festivals around the world, including the Banff International Festival in Canada, the Ayton Castle Music Festival in Scotland, the Laboratorio Novamusica Contemporary Music Series in Italy, the ADUR Festival in England, the Hispanic Heritage Festival, the America Festival and the Mexican Journeys 2002 Festival in the United States.

Concerts of Elizondo's symphonic music have been given for distinguished personalities and institutions such as the British Parliament, the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington DC, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Amnesty International, among others.

Elizondo's first composition, his celebrated symphonic suite Estampas Mexicanas, had its professional premiere by the San Jose Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Leonid Grin, receiving a standing ovation from a crowd of 25,000 people at an outdoor concert of the America Festival (1996). Elizondo became the youngest composer to have his music performed by this orchestra. Since then, orchestras in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, South, Central and North America have now performed Estampas Mexicanas at over 70 concerts and at numerous international festivals.


Elizondo's awards include the 1995 MIT Gregory Tucker Memorial Prize for Music and selection as a 1992 MIT Burchard Scholar. He has also been the recipient of several grants by the MIT Council for the Arts for the production of a concert series (1994-1998), which he founded and directed, and for the production of adventurous contemporary music concerts featuring distinguished New England composers and performers. Elizondo is also known for his efforts in promoting twentieth-century music, with an emphasis on Latin American works by living composers. In 1996, he was nominated for Hispanic Magazine’s list of the 20 most influential Hispanics in the United States.

In 1997, the Brighton Youth Orchestra in England honored Elizondo with the establishment of an award in his name. This award, the “Elizondo Shield” is given in recognition of outstanding service and musicianship to two orchestra members every year. Elizondo's collaboration with the Brighton Youth Orchestra began in 1997, with the European premiere of Estampas Mexicanas. Since then, the orchestra has performed his symphonic music numerous times in England, Scotland, France, Italy and the Congo. In 2001, they received an award for a performance of Elizondo’s Pan de Azúcar at London’s Royal Festival Theatre.

Performance experience

Elizondo has given numerous piano and organ recitals in Mexico and the United States. At age 7, he won a piano competition where he was awarded a scholarship by FONAPAS (Mexico’s National Endowment for the Arts) to study music theory and performance at the School of Fine Arts of the UACH (undergraduate level). He also received a series of awards for organ performance at the Yamaha National Organ Festivals (1980, 1985 and 1987). More recently, Elizondo has given performances as a pianist in chamber recitals as well as accompanied by orchestra at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington DC.

Elizondo combines his love for music with his interest in linguistics and phonetics by working as a language and diction coach for distinguished choral ensembles. In 1999, Elizondo collaborated with the critically acclaimed Cantata Singers in the preparation of a series of concerts and a recording of Peter Child's "Estrella". He also worked with the Boston Camerata in their 1999 production of "Nueva España" for performances in the Boston Early Music Festival and their tour of France. Elizondo is active as a coach for professional ensembles, teaching them pronunciation of modern and ancient languages. He has also been invited in several occasions to lecture at Harvard University about phonetics as applied to vocal technique.

An enthusiast of choral music, Elizondo has sung as a member of numerous Boston-based choral organizations such as the Chorus ProMusica, the Harvard-Radcliffe Chorus, the Harvard Glee Club, the MIT Concert Choir and the MIT Chamber Chorus.

In 1998, Elizondo conducted the Mexico City premiere of one of his works in a series of concerts with the Coyoacán Symphony Orchestra. In 1999, he served as Music Director and conductor of Senza Misura, a Boston-based chamber chorus he founded. Elizondo has also been Vocal Director for musical theatre productions and he has been invited in several occasions to conduct the Harvard-Radcliffe Chorus.

Science and Engineering

In addition to his musical endeavors, Elizondo has pursued his scientific and engineering interests. He has received national awards in Mexico for achievement in Mathematics. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Elizondo participated in undergraduate research projects for NASA, the MIT Plasma Fusion Center and the MIT Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. At age 23, Elizondo became Associate Professor of Mathematics and Science at the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey in Mexico. He currently works as a senior engineer at SpeechWorks International developing state-of-the-art speech-recognition technology systems.