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TCU 360

All TCU. All the time.

TCU 360

The Skiff Orientation Edition: Welcome, Class of 28!
The Skiff Orientation Edition: Welcome, Class of '28!
By Georgie London, Staff Writer
Published May 13, 2024
Advice from your fellow Frogs, explore Fort Worth, pizza reviews and more. 

Alumnus takes associate conductor job for FWSO

He drums his fingers across the tabletop, wearing a dingy plaid button-down shirt with faded jeans. He is different – calmer in the coffeehouse setting. On stage, in the frenzy of hand motions, his dark brown eyes are hidden behind curtains of shoulder-length auburn hair.The man clad in Cobain-esque apparel is Andres Franco, 30, the new associate conductor of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.

“I came here in 2000 as a pianist,” Franco said between sips of espresso. “At that point in my life I never thought about being a conductor.”

Franco won second place in a competition in Santander, Colombia, where Jose Feghali, TCU’s artist-in-residence, was a judge. After talking to Feghali, Franco accepted a scholarship to TCU. He began to study under Feghali, Feghali said he remembers Franco as a determined and ambitious piano student.

“(Franco) was already an intense musician, a very communicative artist,” Feghali said. “He was a good student – one of those that had the talent and the brain, which was nice.”

While studying to receive his master’s degree in piano performance, Franco enrolled in a conducting class taught by German Gutierrez, director of orchestral studies. After a month of lessons, Franco conducted his first show.

“Andres was a very special case,” Gutierrez said. “He was so curious about conducting. He was at every orchestra rehearsal even though he was not part of the orchestra. He wanted to play the cello or the piano – anything he could get his hands on.”

Franco began working on his master’s degree conducting in 2003 while working for Gutierrez as the assistant conductor for the Youth Orchestra of Greater Fort Worth and the TCU Symphony Orchestra.

“Getting to conduct was a valuable experience,” Franco said.

He paused, set his cup down, and furrowed his brow in thought.

“A pianist can always go practice at home on his own piano, a clarinet player can do the same,” Franco said. “But a conductor can only stand in front of a mirror. Until you get in front of a group of people and try what you have been choreographing, it is worthless.”

For the better part of the last decade, Franco has completely immersed himself in the study and practice of music. This hasn’t left much time for activities outside of the orchestra.

“I used to have hobbies a long time ago,” Franco said, “but when you start conducting, there are so many things that you have to learn in such a short period of time that there’s really not any free time.”

Still, Franco manages to find time for old friends like Alejandro Gomez, an alumnus and former violinist for the TCU Symphony Orchestra.

“(Franco) doesn’t really separate his work from his life,” Gomez said. “Because his work is his life. The orchestra is his life because he knows how to have fun with it.

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