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Odaline de la Martínez

Odaline de la Martinez 09 photo Malcolm

Born in Cuba and brought up in the USA, Odaline de la Martínez is now based in the UK where she has become a formidable force on today's classical music scene, pursuing a busy career as an award-winning composer, conductor, record producer and event curator. Working with everything from Mozart symphonies to the latest contemporary music, she has acquired an illustrious reputation for her versatile and eclectic vision, with a longstanding special commitment to contemporary music, women composers and Latin American composers in particular. Amongst her many achievements, Martínez was the first woman to conduct a BBC Prom at the Royal Albert Hall in 1984. 




We find musical Britain inconceivable without her, and not just because she brings a gust of Latin energy and a warmth to the frequently staid groves of musical academy... 


A prolific composer, Odaline de la Martínez obtained her MMus in Composition at the University of Surrey in the UK, working under Reginald Smith Brindle, following studies at Tulane University in New Orleans, USA, where she read Music and Mathematics. In addition to further studies with Maxwell Davies at Dartington Summer School, and Donatoni at the Accademia Chigiana di Musica in Sienna, Italy, she also studied Piano and Composition under Else Cross and Paul Patterson at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where she was recently featured in the exhibition Hitting the Right Note as one of 20 most outstanding composers to graduate from the RAM since its foundation in 1822.


Martínez' works have been showcased across some of the world's most prestigious classical music venues, including Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, Southbank Centre, St John's Smith Square and the Royal College of Music, amongst many others.

Martínez' output traverses a wide range of formats, from solo and duo works, to larger-scale chamber ensembles, electronic music and a variety of vocal, choral and orchestral combinations. A special and enduring affinity with opera was initiated in 1984 with the composition of Sister Aimee: An American Legend, which was premiered at Tulane University in the same year, followed by two other productions at the Royal College of Music (1987) and at Marin County College, California (1995).

In 2006, Martínez wrote 'Imoinda', the first Part of her epic opera trilogy, Imoinda: A Story of Love and Slavery - an exploration of Afro-Caribbean culture set to a libretto by Joan Anim-Addoommissioned by the Caribbean Women Writers’ Alliance of the United Kingdom (CWWA), with funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Part II, 'The Crossing', followed in 2012, commissioned by Tulane University with a grant from the Sophie Newcomb Institute; it premiered in April 2013 with the Tulane and Xavier University choirs, soloists, and the Louisiana Philharmonic, and was premiered in the UK in a semi-staged version in November 2014 at the 5th London Festival of American Music. In 2016, Martínez received composition grants from the USA Cintas Foundation and the British PRS Foundation for Music, allowing her to complete the third and final Part III, 'Plantation'. The complete trilogy received its World Premiere in 2019 on February 27th and 1st and 2nd of March, also at the 7th London Festival of American Music. A grant from Opera America enabled the filming of a video production of selected scenes from Imoinda (featured below)The film opened the 6th London Festival of American Music in November 2016.

Odaline de la Martínez is published by Composers Edition:


A complete list of her works is available HERE.


The highlight of the event…was Odaline de la Martínez' Canciones de Lorca, a set of four sensual yet intense, even obsessive settings of Federico García Lorca poems. Sung with keening clarity...the songs gained tension and mystery from the interplay between repetitive riffs on the piano and softly insistent percussion.


Selected scenes from 'Imoinda'



Since the 1990s, Odaline de la Martínez has enjoyed a demanding conducting schedule, working with some of the world's elite orchestras and ensembles. She was the first woman to conduct a BBC Prom at the Royal Albert Hall in 1984, and has returned to conduct several concerts there since - most notably in 1994, with a special BBC Proms performance of Dame Ethel Smyth’s opera The Wreckers, which was recorded by Conifer Records in the UK and released by BMI records in the United States.

Martínez first learnt to conduct under the guidance of Jan Harrington at Indiana University in Bloomington. In 1976, whilst studying at the Royal Academy of Music, Martínez went on to found her own ensemble, Lontano (, with whom she has performed and broadcast all over the world, whilst also working as resident conductor of the London Chamber Symphony and the European Women's Orchestra.


Martínez is also much in demand as a guest conductor, appearing frequently with leading orchestras worldwide and throughout Great Britain, including all the BBC orchestras and ensembles (BBC Symphony, BBC Philharmonic, BBC NOWBBC Scottish, BBC Belfast, BBC Concert Orchestra, and the BBC Singers). She has also conducted, amongst many others: the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, and New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Australian Youth Orchestra, the Natal Philharmonic (South Africa), the Aarhus Symphony (Denmark), the Orquesta Filarmonica de Cali (Colombia), the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, Radio-Television Orchestra of Brazil, the Kansas City Symphony, the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, the City of London Sinfonia, the Kitchner-Waterloo Symphony (Canada), the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, Orquesta Filarmónica de la UNAM, Mexico City, the Britten Sinfonia and the Vancouver Chamber Orchestra.

In addition to frequent broadcasts for the BBC TV and radio, Martínez has recorded over 40 CDs for her own record label, Lorelt (Lontano Records), which she founded in 1992, as well as appearing on other major labels such as Summit, BMI, and Albany Records in the United States; Chandos, Metier, Retrospect Opera, SOMM, NMC and Conifer Classics in the UK; and Da Capo in Denmark.

Martínez is a Trustee of the Mornington Trust, which has been responsible for community and educational work in London boroughs since 2000. The charity was involved in a eight-year project working with Roma, Gypsy and Traveller communities in the East of London.

Intensity and economy of utterance… Conductor, Odaline de la Martínez, drew deft playing.





Alongside her work as a composer and conductor, Odaline de la Martínez has developed a reputation as a visionary curator of eclectic programmes, concerts and festivals. She currently runs the biennial London Festival of American Music (, now in its 8th year, with the aim of bringing to London the music of composers well-known in the States but less well-known in Europe. In January 2020 she co-curated Juilliard’s FOCUS Festival of Trailblazer Women Composers in New York, which featured women composers from all over the world, from Europe and the USA to South Korea, China, South Africa and Australia, and others - amongst them, Florence Price, Ruth Crawford Seeger, Elena Ruehr, Margaret Bonds, and many more. Other previous highlights include co-directing VIVA, a festival of Latin American music at London's Southbank Centre in 1989; her appointment as Artistic Director of the 1994 Cardiff Festival; co-directing the University of Arizona's 2014 Festival of Latin American Music.

As a record producer, Martínez is the founder of the classical label, LORELT (Lontano Records), which, since 1992, has concentrated on music traditionally neglected by other recording companies; in particular, contemporary composers, women composers and Latin American composers.


For atmosphere, musical adventurousness and sheer fun it actually outscored the evening’s main concert a few hours earlier.


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Odaline de la Martinez 07 photo Malcolm
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Photo credit: Malcolm Crowther

Odaline de la Martinez 09 photo Malcolm

Photo credit: Malcolm Crowther

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