Research Seminar: Alejandra Urrutia Borlando with Caroline Ward

Alejandra Urrutia Borlando

Orchestral Music Driving Cultural Transformation

In latin America poverty is not a conceptual issue, it is a daily part of life. Music therefore plays a role beyond that of entertainment, it is pivotal to how communities cope with the demands of life. This presentation looks at Ms Urrutia’s work with making classical music an instrument in social change and justice, and how she combines this with her ongoing work as a conductor at the highest level.


Alejandra Urrutia Borlando was born in Concepción in the south of Chile. Her initial studies in violin were in Chile with Roberto Diaz (the now President of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia) before continuing her post-graduate studies at the University of Michigan, Detroit, USA.

Ale began her conducting career with a youth orchestra in the poorest of poor communities, known nationwide in Chile for alcoholism and poverty. Fast forward nine years and anyone you asks says ¨ah yes…Curanilahue…the amazing youth orchestra¨. All the children went on to tertiary education and the society shifted.

Since that time, apart from guest conducting roles in all the major orchestras through Latin America, Ale has held three Chief conducting roles in prestigious orchestras - in Argentina and in Chile. She is currently the Chief Conductor of the Santiago Municipal Chamber Orchestra - National Opera of Chile and is working as Assistant Director to Maestro Iván Fischer with The Budapest Festival Orchestra and at the Konzerthaus Orchestra in Berlin.

In addition, she is the Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of Concierto de Hermandad and the International Music Festival Portillo, both of which premier in January 2019. These projects respond to Ale´s conviction that music breaks down frontiers and stretches us to new experiences where we move beyond discrimination and find harmony.

Independant scholar and activist, Caroline Ward is a Ale´s coach, agent and friend. She is an Australian who lived in Chile for 13 years, running a major NGO, and has recently returned to Australia. She will facilitate this conversation with Ale in an interview style format.

Updated:  3 October 2018/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications