Born in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in 1958. Following an early start as a folk singer and charango player in the late 1960s, Agustín Fernández studied composition in La Paz with Alberto Villalpando and in Japan with Takashi Lida and Akira Ifukube. He also studied with Douglas Youn in Britain, where obtained a master’s degree at Liverpool University and a PhD at London’s City University.
He worked as harmony teacher at the National Conservatoy in La Paz, and as violinist and then principal viola with the Bolivian National Symphony Orchestra. In Japan he worked as assistant to the Bolivian ambassador and as Spanish instructor. In the UK he was Composer-in-Residence at Queen’s University, Belfast, then lecturer at Dartington College of Arts, before being appointed lecturer in composition at Newcastle University and, from 2007, Professor of Composition.
His early works were performed by the main orchestras, choirs and chamber groups in Bolivia. In Britain, “Teoponte” was commissioned for the 1988 London International Opera Festival and “The Wheel” was commissioned by the Royal Opera House’s Garden Venture in 1992. “Fuego” and “Peregrine” have received premières at the Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center. The work for orchestra and chorus “Approaching Melmoth”, a preliminary exploration towards an opera he is planning on Maturin’s “Melmoth the Wanderer”, was performed by Northern Sinfonia and NS Chorus with Sir Thomas Allen in the solo part. “Mystical Dances” for orchestra was premièred at the 2006 Huddersfield Festival. In 2010 his reconstructed Misa de Corpus Christi for two choirs and orchestra filled to capacity four major venues including Cochabamba Cathedral. In February 2011, “Una música escondida” received performances at Bass Hall by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.
Agustín Fernández returns to Bolivia regularly, leading performing and creative projects in institutions such as the Youth Orchestra of El Alto, the National Conservatory, Instituto Laredo an the Bolivian Catholic University.