Jose Daniel Flores-Caraballo and his wife, Dharma, hope to find a house sometime this week. They already feel right at home.
Announced as the new artistic director for Albany Pro Musica last week, Flores-Caraballo was introduced to the Capital Region at noon Tuesday at City Hall by Karen Hitchcock, president of the board at Albany Pro Musica, and Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. Members of Albany Pro Musica serenaded their new director, while members from Flores-Caraballo’s choir in Vero Beach, Florida, showed up to support their old conductor.
“I’ve been to New York before and I’ve always loved it, so this isn’t like culture shock for me,” said Flores-Caraballo, who was born in Puerto Rico and has spent the past 15 years creating and conducting choral groups such as the Community Church Choir of Vero Beach, the Atlantic Symphonic Chorus and the Atlantic Children’s Chorale.
Flores-Caraballo replaces Albany Pro Musica Acting Executive Director Norman J. Tellier, who took over when the group’s founder, David Griggs-Janower, died in August. A former University at Albany professor, Griggs-Janower formed Albany Pro Musica in 1981.
“I have an incredible legacy that David left here,” said Flores-Caraballo, who graduated from the Conservatory of Music in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 1987. “Things will be different because they did hire a new music director, but I certainly don’t want to talk about change in my first year here. It’s a great honor to follow in the footsteps of Dr. Griggs-Janower. He was a remarkable leader in the choral world.”
Flores-Caraballo was one of three finalists who each participated in an Albany Pro Musica rehearsal recently.
“He had an hour with us during our Tuesday rehearsal and he was great,” said Albany’s Tonya Hansen, a UAlbany grad who worked with Griggs-Janower as a student and has been with Albany Pro Musica since 2003. “He was extremely engaging, a very subtle leader, but he has that charisma that makes you want to do your best.”
Bill Rose, an architect who splits his time between Greenwich, Connecticut, and Vero Beach, is a member of the Community Church of Vero Beach and has sung for Flores-Caraballo for the past 11 years.
“He’s been a friend now for 11 years and he’s done a great job as music director at Vero Beach, which is a regional church with 2,400 members,” said Rose. “He has this gift of charisma and leadership which is not only rare, but in his case it’s exceptional. I’ve been singing for more years than I want to think about, but I never had an opportunity to work under a better music director than Jose Daniel.”
In her opening comments, Hitchcock said that Flores-Caraballo’s passion and “joy of sharing that passion” makes him a perfect choice. “We know Jose Daniel will rise to the challenge of advancing Albany Pro Musica’s legacy of choral excellence, a legacy so skillfully forged by our founder and artistic director for 32 years, David Griggs-Janower.”