José Luis Hernández-Estrada

Jose Luis Hernandez is a dynamic leader who can move effortlessly from the conductor’s podium to the lecture hall and into the non-profit boardroom. The New England Conservatory’s president calls him “an eloquent advocate for classical music.” The League of American Orchestras has invited him to help invent the future. He’s collaborated in education projects alongside Sir Simon Rattle (the conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic), the Van Cliburn Foundation; and published his first book on the revolutionary El Sistema. He votes for the annual classical Grammy Awards and has performed live on Chicago’s classical radio powerhouse WFMT. Sometimes is hard to define his work but easy to discern that he is intensely passionate about sharing the joy of music. “I remember, vividly, the day I chose to study music…I wanted to be an artist,” he says. And it has been an exciting journey. Jose-Luis studied music and the humanities at Texas Christian University (with Tamás Ungár as Lili Kraus Scholar) and the University of Texas Pan-American. He was a conducting fellow at Bard College Conservatory of Music and received post-graduate training at the Conservatori del Liceu in Barcelona. He took part in the New York Philharmonic’s Conservatory Collaborations, an opportunity that allowed him to observe some of the world’s greatest conductors at work. In 2012, he was admitted into the prestigious Sistema Fellows program at NEC—José Antonio Abreu’s TED Prize wish to change the world. Since then he has founded and led flagship El Sistema-inspired orchestras in Mexico and the United States to public acclaim and taught the first college-level course on the subject of social action through music at Oklahoma City University. He has conducted professional orchestras including those in Mexico City (OFUNAM and Carlos Chávez), the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, musicians of the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra (leading Handel's Messiah); and has worked with the Sistema-inspired youth orchestras of Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Philadelphia. In November of 2015, he made his Caracas conducting debut with the world-renowned Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. José Luis is currently the James and Mary Barnes Foundation Director of Sistema Tulsa at Boston Avenue United Methodist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma and recently completed Leading Change in the Education Systems, a professional program of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Semblanza en Español

Media Interviews

Hear Jose Luis on NPR as he speaks (on El Sistema) "both eloquently and incisively about the profound ways in which music can enrich the lives of students -- as well as the families and communities of those students." 

See Jose Luis on KTUL Channel 8 as he shares the launch of Sistema Tulsa and a special benefit concert featuring Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in Tulsa, Oklahoma.