Gabriela Bohnett, OneWorld Symphonic Festival’s Artistic and Executive Director and Principal Conductor, is a dauntless, energetic advocate for music education, a champion of early childhood development through musical training, and a passionate believer in the classical arts as a means of elevating social and family values. Her natural approach to teaching, performing and promoting music is the result of growing up in a musical family, the second of five siblings, all accomplished musicians. Away from his daily duties as a medical doctor, her father Edgar Morillo is a talented serenade and Venezuelan folk music artist, and her mother, Nancy Piña, from age five already a familiar voice on Venezuelan National Radio (she sang the musical introduction to that network’s daily broadcast), later became known as the “Queen of Folk” and released several hits in that genre. Gabriela went through childhood and youth singing and performing with her close-knit family, affectionately nicknamed by friends “The Von Trapps of Barquisimeto.”
Academically speaking, Gabriela is a product of “El Sistema,” the world-renowned music education system established in Venezuela by Maestro José Antonio Abreu and later adopted by UNESCO as a model for forming youth orchestras in many countries. Through high school in her native Barquisimeto she performed with the Lara State Youth Orchestra, and then with the Chacao Symphony Orchestra during college in Caracas. After completing studies in the Vicente Emilio Sojo and Jacinto Lara musical conservatories in Venezuela, along with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, she moved to the United States where she pursued a Master’s degree and, subsequently, a Doctorate degree in Education and Curriculum, and completed studies in Early Childhood Music, including Orff and Kodaly certification, Suzuki Violin Method teaching certification, orchestral conducting, violin performance and violin pedagogy studies at Catholic University of America, George Mason University and Juilliard School of Music.
Gabriela is currently pursuing a Licentiate in Symphony Orchestra Conducting from the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM). She has performed with the Washington Symphony Orchestra, is a member of the Suzuki Association of the Greater Washington Area, the American String Teachers Association, the Northern Virginia Music Teachers Association, the Music Teachers National Association and the Suzuki Association of the Americas. Gabriela receives constant invitations to conduct and teach around the world. She also serves as a teacher, orchestra consultant, strings clinician and guest conductor in the Washington DC metropolitan area.
In December 2003 Gabriela founded the Youth Music Preservation and Promotion Association (YMPPA), dedicated to extend the wonders of classical music to the broader community. Through the YMPPA she has launched initiatives such as the International Youth Orchestra (IYO); the International Music Internship (IMI)—through which international music students receive assistance in pursuing educational opportunities in the USA; the Society Youth Orchestra (SYO)—an outreach program for underprivileged and underserved youth in Loudoun County; and the Ashburn Youth Symphony Orchestras (AYSO)—an educational and performance program offering chamber and symphony orchestra opportunities to children and teens.
In January 2018, Gabriela founded the premiering non-profit organization and event OneWorld Symphonic Festival, which will gather musicians from every continent in the Washington, DC metro area for a week of rehearsals and concerts. OneWorld, a re-conceptualization of the original International Youth Orchestra, is very similar to what it has been since it started in 2004, but Gabriela believes that the OneWorld name better expresses what the mission of the event is: to create ONEWORLD through music.