Iliana Capriles: The Latina Leading the Baton of a Renowned Orchestra

This great Venezuelan woman, for 9 years, has given the orchestra all her energy and ideas without breaking the tradition inherited from her father, the founder of Los Melódicos, Renato Capriles, who disappeared in July 2014.

The Woman Post | María Consuelo Caicedo Toro

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Iliana Capriles's voice is serious, melodious, imposing. You can tell that she carries the baton of her life and her profession. 9 years ago she inherited from her father, Renato Capriles, the direction of one of the most important Latin American orchestras of all time, Los Melódicos from Venezuela, a tropical-style group that played on stage never to get off, for more than 6 decades. She recently celebrated her 62nd birthday.

Since the 1980s, Iliana worked with her father, Renato, as president of the Club Los Melódicos, in charge of promoting the orchestra on radio and television and public relations, steps that allowed her to fully understand the dynamics of the group.

Renato Capriles died at the age of 88, on July 8, 2014 but some time before she had handed over the destinies of Los Melódicos in the hands of her daughter Iliana: "This has been the greatest challenge of my life." She - as we Latinos say - dances to the sound that they touch her and, best of all, she does it at a good pace. They didn't like being directed by "daddy's daughter."

In a world that has traditionally belonged to men, Iliana entered to guide in her own way: “Directing implies character. I don't know another woman who conducts a tropical orchestra made up of so many musicians. The orchestra that I inherited from my father was not comfortable with the idea that I was at the helm, so over time I was building a new group of committed young people - most of them symphonic. Today they see me with respect.”

This great Latin woman has given the orchestra all her energy and ideas without breaking the inherited tradition: "We are an avant-garde orchestra that is maintained over time and adapts to new demands."

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With much love in her heart, the Venezuelan Capriles, speaks of Colombia, a country that qualifies as the second homeland of Los Melódicos: “I have beautiful memories of the Barranquilla Carnival where we got to play in 17 consecutive years’ versions. I love Colombia, it’s fun people and its delicious food. I admire great composers from that country such as Edmundo Arias, Alfredo Gutiérrez, José Barros and Esthercita Forero. Through their songs we have united the two nations. Colombians are excited to hear their music performed by Los Melódicos, so much so that many believe that our birthplace is Colombia."

Broken the tradition of male protagonism

Los Melódicos, in the year 60 and at the initiative of its founder, Renato Capriles, recognized the value of female voices and integrated them into their routines as a unique hallmark that, as Iliana points out, “was not well regarded in those times, it was not usual for a woman to get on a stage to sing with an orchestra”. Much less usual seems to be, even in the 21st century, that a woman leads the baton of a tropical group.

The voices and figures of Latin women have never been lacking in the repertoire of Los Melódicos whose slogan is the orchestra that imposes the rhythm in Venezuela. Unforgettable singers such as Cuban Emilita Dago, Verónica Rey, Linda Navarro, Liz, Yamilé, Floriana, Angie, Diveana, Pamela and, the current one, Mona Caló have given the orchestra the distinction of being a group that admires, applauds and gives a privileged space on stage for female talent.

For her part, Iliana Capriles, represents the empowered woman in directing, exercising a job in which improvisation is not allowed. From a very young age she found music in academic fields: “Like all Venezuelans, I started with the cuatro but later I took piano, classical and popular guitar classes, I played the sax in a duet with my sister Irina, I have studied jazz, modern dance and ballet". With this musical background in tow, she has contributed to the choreography of the orchestra that, in addition to playing, provides a real show in each presentation: “I have not risked producing a song interpreted by me but I dance with the boys and I am in the choirs”. So there is a director behind the scenes and in front of the public. There is a female baton for a while in front of 20 musicians on stage.

Permanent production still in the running

The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly affected artists worldwide and Los Melódicos is no exception: “An orchestra like our lives off its performances, I didn't think the situation would last for so long. I have been preparing a production that the world will soon know and I work in online concerts so as not to lose contact with the public”.

There is still much to tell about Iliana and her hanging around with the baton in hand.

She is on Facebook as Iliana Capriles (Official) and on Instagram as ilianacapriles_los melódicos.

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