Conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto has achieved success in North America as well as in his native Mexico, taking up conducting unusually late in life. He serves as the music director of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra in New Orleans.
Prieto was born on November 14, 1965, in Mexico City. Prieto's father, Carlos, was a cellist, and soon Prieto was playing violin in a family string quartet, the Cuarteto Prieto. He continued to play the violin while studying electrical engineering at Princeton University, where he graduated in 1992, and at Harvard, where he earned an MBA, but then he took a position with a sugar firm. It wasn't until the 1990s that the creative impulse fully asserted itself, and Prieto switched to conducting. He took classes at the Tanglewood Music Center and the Pierre Monteux School; among his teachers were Jorge Mester, Enrique Diemecke, and Charles Bruck. He made his debut with the Mexico City Philharmonic in 1995 and became its music director in 1998. Prieto also held music director positions with other Mexican orchestras: the Orquesta Sinfónica de Xalapa, the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Mexico, and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería (an orchestra headquartered at Mexico City's Palace of Mines), where he remained in the position as of 2019. Beginning with an assistant conductor post with the Houston Symphony in 2003, Prieto worked his way through American orchestral posts, becoming music director of the Huntsville Symphony in Alabama from 2003 to 2011. His present tenure with the Louisiana Philharmonic began in 2005, one week before Hurricane Katrina, and he led the orchestra in key events connected with New Orleans' recovery. In 2018, he led that group in a performance at New York's Carnegie Hall. Prieto has also shared the conductorship of the Orchestra of the Americas with Gustavo Dudamel, and the two conductors have both taken an active interest in music education.
Prieto's recording catalog includes releases on the Urtext, Cedille, and Artek labels, among others. In 2019, on the Linn label, he led the Orchestra of the Americas in the program Copland & Chávez: Pan-American Reflections. Prieto's many honors include induction into the Order of Orange-Nassau by the government of the Netherlands, and designation as Conductor of the Year for 2019 by Musical America magazine.