Alejandro Drago - violinist, conductor, teacher & composer.
Hailed by music critics as “a superb musician” with the “classical virtuosity of a Heifetz or Perlman,” the "suave café style of Florian Zabach” and the “jazzy insouciance of Stephane Grappelli,” Alejandro Drago has “crisscrossed the line between concerto virtuoso and jazz soloist.” His versatile musicianship has allowed him to be successful with many diverse styles and genres. His discography in France, USA and Argentina includes string quartets, concertos, avant-garde tangos for the EMI International label and works for solo violin CD distributed internationally by Naxos Music Library Japan and CD Tradition.
Alejandro Drago's life in music began in his native Argentina where, as a small child, he accompanied his mother, a professional tango dancer, to the venues were she performed. His mother introduced him to Antonio Agri, who spent many years as a violinist with renowned composer and bandoneón player Astor Piazzolla. Agri recommended him to a member of his string ensemble who instructed him in the basics of music theory. He received a scholarship from the Russian government to study at Moscow State Conservatory under Marina Yashvili, and obtained his Master of Fine Arts in Violin Performance and Pedagogy. In 2008 he received a Master’s Degree in Violin Performance and a D.M.A. in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Southern Mississippi
As a soloist, Alejandro has performed in the Great Hall at the Moscow Conservatory, the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Hall (with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra), Teatro Colón de Buenos Aires, The Kennedy Center and the Kolarac Zal of Belgrade. He has toured extensively in Russia, the United States, China, Austria, Switzerland, Lithuania, Taiwan, Belarus, France, Brazil, ex-Yugoslavia (Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina), Romania, Portugal, Mexico, Colombia, Panama, Paraguay, Ecuador and Haiti.
Alejandro's scholarly works have become important references in English language scholarly studies of Tango music. His symphonic and chamber arrangements of Argentine music have been performed extensively in Europe and Latin America, as well as in the United States by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
In July 2008, Alejandro joined the faculty at the University of North Dakota Department of Music as the Professor of Violin and Viola and Director of Strings / Chamber Orchestra. He has conducted masterclasses, seminars, lectures and lecture-recitals extensively in Asia, Europe and the United States, invited by institutions of higher learning such as the Belarus National Academy of Music, the East China Normal University (Shanghai), the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil), the Emory University (Atlanta, GA) and the Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN), among others.
Alejandro's many awards include special prize in the Rodolfo Lipizer International Competition (Italy, 1992), third prize in the Petar Konjovich International Young Musicians Competition (Yugoslavia, 1993) and the first prize in the "New Talents in Classical Music" Competition (Buenos Aires, 1997). Highlights of past seasons include performances of Alban Berg's Violin Concerto with the University City Symphony Orchestra, Missouri, the performance of the entire solo violin cycles of L'Ecole Moderne op. 10 by Wieniawski and the Six Polyphonic Etudes by Ernst in one concert dedicated to Ruggiero Ricci's legacy, and the première of his own Violin Concerto in the US with the Fort Lauderdale-based Symphony of the Americas, and in Europe with the Belarus State Chamber Orchestra in Minsk.
Alejandro lives in Grand Forks with his wife, Ligia, and their children Mirko and Mila.
Excerpts from critical reviews:
“His transcription retains the score’s inspired stream of melodies without neglecting the astringent harmonies and austere instrumentation of Piazzolla’s original chamber versions. Drago is a splendid musician. His languorous rendition of Invierno Porteño astutely combined sentimentality with Mozartean beauty. Drago’s bravura violin technique beguiled the listeners. His easy synthesis of aristocratic café suaveness and fiery zest were terrific.” (Entertainment News & Views)
“Drago's retooling for violin and string orchestra so deftly captures the rhythmic ingenuity, offbeat effects and astringent harmonic edge of the original quintet version that the bandoneon and electric guitar are hardly missed. Drago proved himself a wonderfully idiomatic exponent of his compatriot's tango music. His lean, focused tone drew out Piazzolla's atmospheric melancholy as well as the touch of sleazy languor while deftly skirting the schmaltz.”
(The Miami Herald)
"Drago is a violinist of formidable gifts. Combining virtuoso dazzle with a tone that is dark and full, he can spin a melody in mesmerizing hues or play double or triple stops with seemingly effortless bravura."
(Fort Lauderdale Connex)