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AZ Central: How the Phoenix Symphony music director champions a broader sound by embracing diversity

By Jose R. Gonzalez

December 5, 2022


He has performed on stages the world over, but Phoenix Symphony Music Director Tito Muñoz’s hometown of Queens, New York, remains his inspiration.

Queens is “extremely diverse. English is not the common language. There is no common language. You get on the subway and everybody’s speaking everything, and it’s great,” Muñoz said in an interview with The Arizona Republic.

In his ninth season with the symphony, the appreciation the 39-year-old maestro of Ecuadorian descent has for the Queens-like blend of cultures has helped him enrich the Phoenix audience’s musical palate.

“For me, diversity is always a thing I like to think about as sort of necessary to enhance the vibrancy of an organization. Even in symphony orchestra,” Muñoz said. “We’ll be able to play more music better. We’ll be able to connect with the community better. We’ll be able to educate the people better.”

According to data published in a September 2016 report by the League of American Orchestras, Latinos make up 8.3% of conductors for U.S. orchestras with large annual budgets.

The lack of diversity among orchestra members is not lost on Muñoz, so opening doors to more people of color is essential to his position. The music director is a part of Sphinx, a social justice organization committed to broadening access to classical music for Black and Latino performers, and works to ensure the Phoenix Symphony features compositions by creators of color.

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