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Guest Artist Recital: Dr. Isaac Casal, cello

Monday, February 14, 8:00 pm9:30 pm


Dr. Isaac Casal will give a masterclass to members of the ISU cello studio. He will also perform a recital of works for solo cello, and cello and piano.

“Versatile, classically trained cellist whose trademark is built around the concepts of performance variety and flexibility, covering a range of musical languages that span from classical to world, latin, and folk. Panamanian cellist Isaac Casal has brought international recognition to his country through his artistry. With an active agenda, he has performed numerous solo recitals, chamber and orchestral music concerts, and as a soloist throughout Africa, Europe, and the Americas. Furthermore, he has been recognized for his entrepreneurship and commitment to the development of the younger generations of musicians.

Recently, he has performed as a soloist with the National Symphony of Panama and the Constanta Symphony in Romania, gave recitals at Dallas Texas at Mountain View College, the University of Montevideo in Uruguay, University of Mendoza in Argentina, Casa de Cultura in Chinchina in Colombia, and with his brother, Luis Casal, at the Weill Hall of the Carnegie Hall.

Among his orchestral experience, its worth to mention his participation as co-principal of the Louisiana Sinfonietta Chamber Orchestra (2011- 2014) under the renowned composer and conductor Dinos Constantinides. He was principal cellist of the Youth Symphony of Panama and was one of the youngest cellists to join the cello section of the National Symphony of Panama. In 2003 he became the first Panamanian to join the Youth Orchestra of the Americas (YOA) international tours performing alongside renowned conductors such as Carlos Miguel Prieto, Isaac Karabtchvsky, Valery Gergiev, Benjamin Zander, Gustavo Dudamel, and Plácido Domingo. He was a member of the YOA from 2003 to 2008, and the highlight of his relationship with this organization included touring with Paquito D’Rivera as a member of the YOA Camerata.

Impeller of new works, he has premiered pieces by composers such as Jorge Figueroa, Jorge Bennett, Darwin Aquino, Dinos Constantinides, Guido López-Gavilán, among others. In 2012 he created the Ensemblast Project, which fuses the aesthetics of the classic quartet with Latin American styles borrowing freely from an array of musical languages. In 2019 with the support of the University of Panama, Ensemblast Project launched its first discography.

A visionary of his generation, at the age of 25, Isaac founded Sinfonía Concertante Foundation of Panama (FUNSINCOPA). The foundation’s mission has been to create educational music programs for low-income children and youth, including an orchestra system for high-risk children inspired by El Sistema orchestral program of Venezuela. He is also the Artistic Director and founder of the Alfredo Saint-Malo Music Festival of Panama (ASMF), an annual one week festival that saw its inception on May 25, 2007, and has become one of the most important music festivals of the Central American region. In May 2019, the Festival has been recognized by law by the Panamanian Government as a national annual festival. In June 2015, the ASMF received the award “Anita Villalaz,” granted by the Anita Villalaz Panama national cultural award commission.

In April 2016, Isaac received an award for his “Cultural Achievements” by the Youth Orchestra of The Americas. In May 2015, he received the award “Ciudadanos Notables de Panama 2015” (Remarkable Citizens of Panama 2015), granted by the Panama’s National Commission of Pro Civic Values and Morals. In 2013, he was invited to participate by the Salzburg Global Seminar to the “Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Leaders II.” In 2012, he received the Hildegard Behrens Foundation Young Artist Humanitarian Award. In the same year, the Junior Chamber International of Panama City awarded Isaac the Outstanding Musician in the Culture category.

Isaac began his cello studies at the Escuela Juvenil de Música de Panamá at the age of 7. From the age of nine, he participated in music camps organized by the Concert Association of Panama, and in 1998 was granted a scholarship to attend the Daniel Heifetz International Institute in Annapolis, MD. In 2000 he moved to the United States after being awarded a scholarship to study at the Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, MN. Since then his major teachers have included Karen Melik-Stefanov, Keith Robinson from the Miami String Quartet, Javier Arias from the Amernet String Quartet, Gary Hardy, Andres Diaz, and Denis Parker. He has degrees from Florida International University, Baylor University, and Southern Methodist University, and a Doctoral in Musical Arts degree from Louisiana State University (2015).

Additional studies include instruction by Gustav Rivinius at the Cello International Summer Academy of Bad Leonfelden in Austria, by Jesús Castro Balbi at the Texas Christian University, among others. Isaac has also performed in orchestras, master and chamber music classes for internationally known musicians such as the Miami String Quartet, Carlos Riazuelo, Carlos Piantini, Stewart Robertson, Leon Spierer, Joaquín Achúcarro, Christopher Adkins, Norman Fischer, Jeffrey Solow, Harvey Shapiro, Paul Katz, Antonio Meneses and Matt Homowitz.

Presently, and aside from his active agenda as a performer and Artistic Director of FUNSINCOPA and the ASMF, he is Visiting Cello Faculty at the University of Panama School of Music, Miami Philharmonic Artist and Director of the University of Panama Cello Ensemble.”


For additional information on this event contact Dr. Cora Swenson Lee (309) 438-8009


Monday, February 14
8:00 pm – 9:30 pm


Kemp Recital Hall
401 S. School Street
Normal, IL 61761 United States