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 music director of the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association and will conduct the Vermont Youth Orchestra beginning in the 2020/2021 Season.
In the 2019/2020 season, he was assistant conductor of the Cleveland Pops Orchestra with whom he performed sold-out concerts in Severance Hall and the Connor Palace and also served as co-conductor of the Cleveland Pops Youth Orchestra. Additionally, he was assistant professor at Lake Erie College where he commissioned and premiered several new works and created a vibrant new wind ensemble program.
In 2018/2019, Alpizar was the resident conductor of the American Youth Symphony, one of the premier pre-professional orchestras in the United States. 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, Alpizar conducted the Holland Symphony Orchestra, led the world premiere of Riley Nichelson's Piano Quintet for the Commissioned Composer Competition of the CAPMT, and led the consortium that commissioned Theresa Martin’s Almost Alice that has been performed across the United States and Canada. As a clarinetist, Alpizar recently performed Crusell's Clarinet Concerto No. 3 with the University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse Symphony Orchestra, and taught masterclasses at Winona State in Minnesota, and University of South Dakota in Brookings, SD.
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, directed camera cues for the pops series, and made public and educational appearances on behalf of the orchestra including the creation of a conducting workshop for children. During this time, Alpizar also ran the Collegium Musicum at the Cole Conservatory of Music at Cal State University, 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 was 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 from 2012-2019. During his tenure, which spanned seven of their twenty-seven-season history, he programmed 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-winning 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 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 been principal in American Youth Symphony, SCSBOA’s All Southern honor band and orchestras, CBDA’s All State Wind Ensemble, 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, CSU Northridge, Arizona State Univsersity, 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 led 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. He was proud to return to his alma mater to join the conducting faculty in 2019.
Since his undergraduate studies, Alpizar has maintained a healthy involvement with music education in the public schools throughout the country. 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 Ohlendorf Honor Orchestra, and the Alvord School District’s All-District honor band. Since moving to Cleveland, he has also worked for the Riverside and Harvey High Schools in Lake County, Ohio.