New Hallam Sinfonia MD Jon Malaxetxebarria (often known as Jon Malax) will be taking up this post in 2023, with a first concert in this role on 14 October. As we prepare to welcome him to the Hallam Sinfonia fold, we thought that orchestra and audience members alike might want to know a little more about him!
Jon was born in Gernika in the Basque Country of Spain. He started playing the flute at the age of 7, and also as a child learned txistu (a folkloric basque instrument) and piano. However, at the age of 14 he fell in love with the sound of the French Horn and started learning it – eventually studying it with Dale Clevenger in Chicago for his undergraduate degree.
The first time Jon conducted an orchestra was at the Arriaga theatre in Bilbao when he was about 10 years old, in a children’s concert with the Bilbao Symphony orchestra. His solfège teacher pushed him down the central aisle of the theatre, and before he knew it he was conducting the overture to William Tell! Ever since, he always wanted to become a conductor.
Now realising that ambition, Jon has worked with many professional and amateur orchestras in Spain and the UK. He is also a keen conductor of opera, having been the assistant conductor of the two main opera houses in Spain: Teatro Real (Madrid) and Liceu (Barcelona) in four productions. He is a keen advocate of new music, and he performed the world premiere of Simon Dobson’s Trombone Concerto with Peter Moore and the RNCM Brass Band, broadcast on BBC Radio 2.
Away from music, Jon loves cooking. Of this he says “Designing a meal to me isn’t too dissimilar to programming a concert where all pieces work well together; and then you have to cook all courses and deliver them in good time to your guests or family”.
Jon also likes skiing, saying that he enjoys going down a slope breathing clean fresh air surrounded by beautiful nature.