Hiking, cooking inspire the Columbus Symphony’s new assistant conductor

Andres Lopera is the new assistant conductor of the Columbus Symphony and music director of the Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestras, becoming the face of the long-standing, extensive program for young musicians and overseeing all of its orchestras. In addition, he helms several CSO education, outreach and family concerts.

The Colombia native, 34, brings more than 10 years of leadership experience with both professional and youth orchestras in, among others locales, Colorado and Oregon, and has conducted at festivals including the National Repertory Orchestra and the Youth Orchestra of the Americas. Lopera will conduct a showcase of all of the symphony's youth orchestras on Jan. 27 in the Davidson Theatre.

Here are a few things he loves.

Hiking and nature
Every time I am out in nature, I feel inspired. The clean air, the beautiful views andthe sounds of nature fill my mind with awe and wonder and give me a fresh perspective. We have so much to learn from nature!

Food always brings people together by having a communal experience. I really enjoy cooking a good meal for my friends and having the chance to host a relaxed evening, cellphone-free, where people can share personal stories and ideas and connect with one another.

My hometown is a little village in Colombia, so, as a child, I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to travel to many corners of the globe and see the world, as I have done. Traveling provides the chance to learn about different cultures, and by having a better understanding of others, it opens your mind to broader perspectives. I keep learning that, despite all the bad news that we hear in the media, human nature is fundamentally good.

To me, music is the biggest conduit for human expression. I feel privileged and honored to be able to call it my work every day. Music has the power to bring people together regardless of culture or socioeconomic background, and therefore makes us one.

I have the pleasure to have grown up in a big family — we are seven siblings, plus my dad and mom. There is nothing like time with family; in fact, I am writing this from Colombia while spending the holidays with them.