This violist has all the talents needed to rise and shine in music
Acclaimed for his exhilarating, passionate performances, innate musicality, and technical prowess, Spanish violist Jesús Rodolfo has been praised by The New York Times Digest as, “a star whose light transcends the stage.” His expressive interpretations, wide repertoire, and command of his instrument’s luminous, dark, rich tones have filled the halls of major venues worldwide. Since making his professional debut at age 12 in the Auditorio Principe Felipe in Oviedo, Spain, Rodolfo has performed with many of Spain’s foremost orchestras, and his professional relationships with orchestras and presenters worldwide continue to expand.
Rodolfo strums the chords of the viola and can play the piano with charm. His music makes you feel like you are on a romantic date where the evening has a slow burn, and you end the night gazing at the stars in the sky wanting the moment to never end.
Who is Jesús Rodolfo in your own words?
Jesús Rodolfo: Jesús Rodolfo is an international music recording artist, violist, pianist, architect, educator, and LBGTQ ambassador who believes in and loves the beauty of form and the human condition. Jesús Rodolfo makes the impossible possible, is constantly inspired and creating, loves fashion, music, art (in all forms), food, anything beautiful, and strives to make things better. He is also honest, incredibly hard working, a true romantic, passionate, elegant, level-minded, confident, kind, ambitious, incredibly loving (when anyone gets him there…), and always has to help and celebrate others.
What brought you on the path to music?
JF: I always had classical music playing at home and specially at both my grandparents, where I used to go every weekend. I remember being enchanted by the opening of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, when they start telling the story about the prince: “Once upon a time, in a hidden part of France, there was a handsome young prince, in a beautiful castle…”. The music that accompanied that moment made me fall in love with this form of art. I went to my grandpa’s piano and started playing it by ear. I was like four or four and a half years old.
What is your favorite genre of music to listen to?
JF: The last two to three years I have been very into pop music, soundtracks, electronic/electro acoustic, and anything Lang Lang. I absolutely love Billie Eilish; I think she is bringing something unique and relevant to our art. Beyoncé… I mean, what can I tell you about her? Forever love. Hans Zimmer and anything in his sound world is incredibly inspiring to me. Jóhann Jóhansson’s work that is being published after his passing is quite amazing too. Have you checked Lang Lang’s new single? “The Disney Book?” If not, check it out! What’s more powerful than playing Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” in St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, in front of Bach’s tomb? Simply fantastic, together with a superb playing that made the world listen to this masterpiece in a new-much-needed-and-updated way.
Do you play other instruments?
JF: Yes, I am a pianist too.
Do you sing as well?
JF: I think I sing… but I really don’t. I wish I did!
How was it growing up being gay?
JF: Honestly, it wasn’t easy at all for me. I knew I was gay since I had memory, and I also knew I would have to be much better, efficient, successful, kind, humble, and hardworking than anyone around me, just to get basic credit. Even achieving all that, I also knew I would have to one day leave. Yet, I treasure some beautiful memories, especially with my grandmothers and grandparents, friends, and mentors, back in Luarca, the beautiful tiny little town in North Spain I am from.
What was your coming out story like?
JF: I was 17, right before taking the exams to go to college. I was going to study music (viola and piano) and architecture. I was also starting my first international tours in Europe, and I had made it clear that I wanted to come to the USA to study. Just a few months before taking the exams, my grandmother who always supported me with being a musician, would wake me up with opera every morning during the weekends, and was truly like a mother for me, passed away with a really fast case of multiple sclerosis. I think the sadness from the loss and the grief, as well as the eagerness to move forward in my life, and be who I wanted to be, made me come out to my mother, who took it extremely bad, and suggested I hide it from my father and just leave home right away, even before knowing when college started. So, I left. Came out to my father — which wasn’t breaking news to him — four years later. However, my former viola teacher and close friends were incredibly loving and supportive. I had to grow, and to grow fast right away. It was all worth it.
Can you tell me about your upbringing?
JF: I was born in a beautiful small town in Northern Spain with almost 4000 inhabitants, and into a conservative family, both politically and religiously. I think it is easy to guess that, given my name, I was raised Catholic; but I have to say that thanks to the education my grandparents provided me with, I grew up with a very strong and well-structured set of values. Humility, honesty, respect, tenacity, responsibility, hard work, and gratitude. I loved going to my maternal grandparents every weekend and learning about culture, history, and music; also manners, how to dress well and sit at the table (hahahahaha), plan how to build a house, practice viola or piano, watch movies, and celebrate holidays with family.
Give me a fly on the wall moment while doing one of your great stage performances?
JF: Oh yes! March 27th, 2014, Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, with the Mannes Orchestra and David Hayes as conductor, where I did my Lincoln Center solo debut performing Bela Bartok’s Viola Concerto. I remember starting the last movement and thinking: Gosh, is this really happening? YES! It is!!!
I was wearing a black suit, oxblood shirt, and black fur and spiked Christian Louboutin shoes (my first pair ever!). I stamped the floor with them and pushed the last page of the piece till the end almost like flying! It was one of the most — if not the most — empowering feelings I had performing ever.
If there is one thing that you would like to tell the younger generation of kids, what would that be and why is that most important to you?
JF: I still have a lot to learn, and I can’t wait to grow as a human and artist, but I would tell them: No matter where you come from or what your background is, if you have talent and work very hard, the sky’s the limit. Be your own hero, and if you don’t like your life, boss up, and change it.
You have an amazing style. Where do you shop?
JF: Thank you! I love fashion, I love the creative process in it, the overall business, and how we can show our personality through what we wear. I tend to go for the same colors and style, quite minimal, making variations in texture, fabrics, cuts and bringing very unique, personality-defining accessories. I love basic prêt à porter clothes from Zara or UniQlo and combine them with Gucci shoes and a Louis Vuitton bag. I am all about the design, functionality, and beauty of the clothes and accessories I wear no matter what brand or designer made them. I guess that comes from the architect in me. For example, I found a vintage Chanel tie at a store in New York City that I wore with a basic black Zara suit for my Carnegie Hall debut years ago.
Lately I am very into Theory and love Tom Ford for a more unique and luxurious moment. Talking about luxury, I remember my only meeting ever with Donatella Versace about an endorsement, and talking about fashion, luxury, and style. She defined luxury as uniqueness, emotion, and desire. So, it isn’t what or who you wear, it’s how you wear it.
I was born and raised in New York. What is your favorite thing about living in the city?
JF: There are three things I love about New York City: We have anything we can wish for within 15 minutes distance; Everything one can imagine is possible in New York City; and New York City will make you fall in love and break you apart infinite times ’til you become the person you always wished to be. No other city on the planet makes this happen.
When it comes to dating, are you all about the apps or are you into the old-fashioned way of dating, which one do you prefer and why?
JF: Of course, dating apps have always been an easy and fast way to meet people, especially in a city like New York where we all are on a schedule and time efficiency matters so much. However, I am a romantic; I believe in love stories, and I am rather more into old-fashioned dating. I call it “The Classic Way.” Going to a concert or event, then dinner and drinks somewhere nice, is for me the way to go. Or, after five to six years of following someone on Instagram, you finally write to him and say, I think it’s time for us to meet…
Are you a beach or pool person?
JF: I am a pool — by the beach or on the beach — type of person.
I have two Frenchie’s and your dog is adorable. Have you always loved Frenchie’s? Give me a fond memory of you and your fur baby.
JF: She is the star, she is a diva, she is my queen! I remember the very first day when she arrived, I hugged her and put her on my chest, and after licking my nose she fell asleep on me. A couple days later, I was practicing viola and she started howling! It was so cute! She always listens to me practice, loves traveling with me, and always is up to new adventures. Frenchie’s are the best!
Where can people buy your music?
JF: My music is available for purchase on all major digital platforms across the globe.
What projects are you working on next?
JF:I just recorded a new single last week that will be released in the early fall, with a stunningly beautiful work by Jane Antonia Cornish titled “Azure” and is for 6 violas, all of them played by me. She is also a proud member of the LGBTQ community, and we connected a few years ago at Chelsea Music Festival here in New York. I am currently working on all the materials for the release package, and will be premiering the work on WQXR Celebrates PRIDE at the Greene Space, here in NYC.
Next season I will be presenting two multidisciplinary projects that are incredibly close to my heart and I have been working on the last two years. One of them is the first ever gay version of Prokofiev’s ballet “Romeo & Juliet”, based on Shakespeare’s play, and “Pull-X-Ella”, after Stravinsky’s “Suite Italienne” or “Pulcinella” ballet and Neapolitan commedia dell’arte. We are in a moment in time where we need to reinvent popular stories and adapt them to different communities, making everyone feel included and represented and making the new versions relevant and resonating to their life journeys.
To learn more about Jesús Rodolfo and listen to some recordings, please visit his website