Southern California native, Mark Alpizar, has made his living entirely through musical endeavors since the age of nineteen when he taught private clarinet lessons, coached high-school marching band, sang in a busking barbershop quartet, and co-founded his first youth ensemble, the West Coast Winds. Since then he has enjoyed a multi-faceted and entrepreneurial career as a conductor, clarinetist, and music educator. He has recently been named the assistant conductor of the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, and instrumental faculty at Lake Erie College.
This year, Alpizar he was the resident conductor for the American Youth Symphony, one of the premier training grounds for pre-professional musicians in the USA. Similarly, in the summer of 2018, he was the assistant conductor for the National Repertory Orchestra where he conducted two full programs, assisted internationally recognized guest conductors, and created a new libretto for Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale for children. Also in 2018-2019, Mark has conducted the Holland Symphony Orchestra, led the world premiere of Riley Nichelson's Piano Quintet for the Commissioned Composer Competition of the CAPMT, and has led a consortium that commissioned Theresa Martin’s Almost Alice that already has been performed across the USA and Canada. As a clarinetist, Mark recently performed Crusell's Clarinet Concerto No. 3 with the UW LaCrosse Symphony Orchestra, and taught masterclasses at Winona State and South Dakota State University.
From 2013 to 2015, he was the assistant conductor for the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra where he conducted on a series of concerts for children, assisted guest conductors during rehearsal, directed camera cues for the pops series, presented at board meetings, and made public and educational appearances on behalf of the orchestra including the creation of a children’s conducting workshop for children. During this time, Mr. Alpizar also ran the Collegium Musicum at the Cole Conservatory of Music at Cal State Long Beach. His innovative programs included everything from solo instrumental works to semi-staged opera performances and they typically included music dating from the 1500s to the 1900s performed largely on instruments of the period. As a freelance conductor in Los Angeles, Alpizar has been involved in a variety of projects. Most notably, he conducted the world-premiere performance of a work for orchestra and children’s choir by Adrian Dunker dedicated to the fallen police officers of California for the California Police Chiefs Association. The governor of California attended and the performance was lauded on front page of the Orange County Register.
Alpizar was the music director of Four Seasons Youth Orchestra in Orange County, California for seven seasons between 2012-2019. During his tenure, which spans seven of their twenty-six-season history, he has done an unprecedented amount of new music and premiered half-a-dozen works by student composers, several of whom have gone into the music industry. One of their most ambitious seasons included the Grammy-nominated Calling All Dawns from Civilizations 4 and the world premiere of Luke Hannington’s comic one-act opera, The Inferiority Complex of Old Sippy. Alpizar also conducted, coached, and contracted for the South Coast Youth Symphony Orchestra from 2008 to 2015. Between the two youth orchestras he has played two concertos, performed in Segerstrom and Walt Disney Concert Halls, and completed performance tours to England, Wales, Ireland, Spain, Greece, New York, and Australia.
Though he has freelanced his way through numerous orchestras, pit bands, and pick-up performances throughout his clarinet career, Alpizar is primarily known as a chamber musician. As a former member and founder of Quintessential Winds, a wind quintet dedicated to expanding the traditional repertoire, Alpizar performed ten busy seasons of standard and experimental chamber music. Highlights include twice winning the Beverly Hills Competition, being named semi-finalists in the Plowman Chamber Competition, performing as guest principals for the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival’s Symphony Orchestra and opera, and performing for the International Horn Society and the North American Saxophone Alliance. In addition to his playing, Alpizar maintains an elite studio of pre-college clarinetists. His students have participated in SCSBOA’s All Southern honor band and orchestras, CBDA’s All State Wind Ensemble, held principal positions in the finest youth orchestras in Los Angeles and Orange County, and have been accepted to Longy School of music in Boston, Mannes in New York, University of Oregon, UCLA, Cal State Long Beach, UC Irvine, Cal Poly Pomona among others. He is a member of the International Clarinet Association and conducted and played with Arizona State University's ClariZona Clarinet Choir at the 2016 Clarinetfest.
In 2018, Alpizar completed the Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) degree in orchestra and opera conducting at Arizona State University. In addition to being one of the assistant conductors for the ASU orchestras and Lyric Opera Theatre, he studied conducting with Jeffery Meyer of the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic and The Phoenix Symphony’s Tito Muñoz. At ASU, he commissioned and premiered several new works, and initiated a new series of orchestral pops including the music of video games. In 2018, he was the conductor of the ASU Lyric Opera Theatre’s production of Les Mamelles de Tirésias for which he was nominated for an “AriZoni,” Arizona’s version of the Tony Award. The production also received 3rd place in the American Prize. While a Phoenix resident, he guest-conducted both The Phoenix Youth Symphony and the East Valley Youth Symphony and was the instrumental winds director at Desert Marigold School. Alpizar and his wife, then orchestra director at the school, took the students on their first music tour to California in 2017 where they saw the Long Beach Symphony and performed with the Four Seasons Youth Orchestra.
Alpizar earned the Master of Music degree in orchestral conducting from the Cole Conservatory of Music at Cal State Long Beach in 2015 where he studied with Dr. Johannes Müller-Stosch and earned the Excellence in Music award and the graduate conducting award. His research on the Hollywood film composer, Miklós Rózsa lead to the first performance of his suite to The Killers since its premiere and recording. Alpizar also earned two Bachelor of Music degrees in clarinet performance and music education in 2010 from the Cole Conservatory where he studied with the principal clarinetist of the Los Angeles Opera, Dr. Michael Grego. He was the choirmaster for the Kappa Omicron Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda, and Phi Kappa Phi.
Since his undergraduate studies, Alpizar has maintained a healthy involvement with music education in the public schools in Southern California. He has taught marching band at, been the woodwind coach of, or regular guest conductor for the following high schools: Downey, La Sierra, Irvine, Long Beach Wilson, Fountain Valley, La Quinta, Magnolia, Trabuco Hills, Cerritos, Rosemead, and Cypress. He has also coached East Whittier Middle School, and Sussman Middle School in Downey. Most recently, Alpizar has also conducted the Long Beach All-District honor orchestra in rehearsals and sectionals, and the Alvord School District’s All-District honor band in performance.