Celebrated guest conductors will lead orchestra in 2019-20

Four of today’s most celebrated conductors and music educators will lead the University of North Carolina School of the Arts Symphony Orchestra during the 2019-20 season, School of Music Dean Brian Cole has announced. They will conduct the orchestra in works ranging from Mahler’s First Symphony to the premiere of a new double concerto by Grammy-nominated composer Christopher Brubeck with UNCSA alumna Sharon Robinson and Jaime Laredo of the award-winning Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio.

Guest conductors who will take the stage at the Stevens Center next year are Xian Zhang, the first woman to serve as music director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra as well as a major Italian orchestra, Verdi Orchestra of Milan and former Associate Conductor of the New York Philharmonic; Karin Hendrickson, who was music director for last fall’s acclaimed UNCSA production of Leonard Bernstein’s “MASS;” Mark Gibson of the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and visiting faculty at two international conservatories; and Michael Butterman, music director for three U.S. orchestras and the principal conductor for engagement and community outreach for a fourth.

Xian Zhang will conduct the UNCSA Symphony on Sept. 21, 2019

The UNCSA Symphony Orchestra will begin its 2019-20 season with a concert conducted by Xian Zhang.

“These conductors have led some of the world’s greatest orchestras and are among the finest musical leaders you will find in the industry today,” Cole said. “Our students will be challenged and inspired by working with them, and our audiences will be exhilarated by their performances.”

Cole said the guest artists share a deep commitment to music education and developing the artists of the future. “In the UNCSA School of Music, we are training the next generation of performers and artist leaders. It’s important that our students have the opportunity to learn from a wide range of professional musicians,” he said. “That kind of insight into and connection with the music industry is a crucial element for their development, and guest artists like these conductors supplement the training and mentorship provided by our stellar resident faculty artists.”

The 2019-20 season begins Sept. 21, 2019, with Xian Zhang conducting a program that will feature Rimsky Korsakov’s beloved “Scheherazade.” She is music director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra; principal guest conductor of the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales; and conductor emeritus of the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi.

Mark Gibson will conduct the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra on Nov. 23, 2019

Mark Gibson will conduct the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra on Nov. 23, 2019.

On Nov. 23, 2019, Mark Gibson will conduct a program featuring Gustav Mahler’s epic First Symphony. Gibson is director of orchestra studies at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM); music director of the CCM Philharmonia; and visiting conducting faculty at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, China, and the Hochschüle für Musik und Theater in Munich, Germany.

For the first time, Karin Hendrickson will conduct UNCSA’s popular annual tradition, “The Nutcracker,” a collaboration with the School of Dance and the School of Design and Production, for several performances Dec. 13-22, 2019. She is associate artist at Sage Gateshead and assistant conductor of the Royal Northern Sinfonia. She trained at the Peabody Conservatory and the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Karin Hendrickson will conduct the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra for "The Nutcracker" on December 2019

Karin Hendrickson will conduct the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra for "The Nutcracker" in December 2019.

The season concludes on March 28, 2020, when Michael Butterman conducts a program that will feature a new double concerto by Grammy-nominated composer Christopher Brubeck, performed by alumna Sharon Robinson, cello, and Jaime Laredo, violin, of the award-winning Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio. The program will also include  music from Prokofiev’s ballet “Romeo and Juliet.” Butterman is music director of the Boulder (Colo.) Philharmonic, the Shreveport (La.) Symphony Orchestra and the Pennsylvania Philharmonic and principal conductor for engagement and community outreach for the Rochester (N.Y.) Philharmonic.

Tickets for the 2019-20 season will go on sale late in the summer.

About the guest conductors

Making his mark as a model for today’s conductors, Michael Butterman is recognized for his commitment to creative artistry, innovative programming, and to audience and community engagement. He serves as music director for the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, which he has led to national prominence, resulting in an invitation to open the Kennedy Center’s inaugural SHIFT Festival of American Orchestras in 2017. He is also the music director of the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra and the Pennsylvania Philharmonic, an orchestra uniquely focused on music education. He has completed 18 seasons as principal conductor for education and community engagement for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and he also completed a 15-year tenure with the Jacksonville Symphony, first as associate, and then as resident conductor. 

Michael Butterman will conduct the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra on March 28, 2020

Michael Butterman

As a guest conductor, Butterman has led many of the country’s preeminent ensembles, including the Cleveland Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, National Symphony, Detroit Symphony and Houston Symphony. In the 2018-19 season, he returned to the National Symphony Orchestra for three weeks of performances at the Kennedy Center, in addition to five guest weeks with the Rochester Philharmonic. Other recent appearances include performances with the Colorado Symphony, Oregon Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Colorado Music Festival Orchestra, Charleston Symphony, Hartford Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Syracuse Symphony, New Mexico Symphony, Santa Fe Symphony, California Symphony, Louisiana Philharmonic, Spokane Symphony, El Paso Symphony, Mobile Symphony, Winston-Salem Symphony, Pensacola Opera, Asheville Lyric Opera and Victoria Symphony (British Columbia). Summer appearances include Tanglewood, the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival and the Wintergreen Music Festival in Virginia.

Butterman gained international attention as a diploma laureate in the Prokofiev International Conducting Competition and as a finalist in the prestigious Besançon International Conducting Competition. As the recipient of the Seiji Ozawa Fellowship, he studied at Tanglewood with Robert Spano, Jorma Panula, and Maestro Ozawa, and shared the podium with Ozawa to lead the season’s opening concert. Earlier, he was sponsored by UNESCO to lead the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Moldova in a concert of music by great American masters.

For six seasons, Butterman served as music director of Opera Southwest in Albuquerque, N.M. During much of that time, he was also director of Orchestral Studies at the Louisiana State University School of Music and was principal conductor of the LSU Opera Theater. Previously, he held the post of associate conductor of the Columbus Pro Musica Orchestra, and served as music director of the Chamber Opera, Studio Opera, and Opera Workshop at the Indiana University School of Music. For two seasons, he was the associate music director of the Ohio Light Opera, conducting more than 35 performances each summer.

At Indiana University, Butterman conducted a highly acclaimed production of Leonard Bernstein’s little-known “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue” in a series of performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., receiving unanimous praise from such publications as The New York Times, Washington Post, Variety, and USA Today. He was subsequently invited to New York at the request of the Bernstein estate to prepare a performance of a revised version of the work.

Butterman’s work has been featured in six nationwide broadcasts on public radio's Performance Today, and can be heard on two CDs recorded for the Newport Classics label and on a new disc in which he conducts the Rochester Philharmonic and collaborates with actor John Lithgow.

Mark Gibson, music director of the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory (CCM) of Music Philharmonia Orchestra, enjoys a career that has spanned three continents, guest conducting and teaching from Munich to Manila. While director of Orchestral Studies at CCM, he also serves as guest conducting faculty at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich, Germany.

Mark Gibson will be guest conductor of the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra

Mark Gibson

Prior to his arrival in Cincinnati, Gibson served as principal conductor of the Alabama Symphony, visiting director of orchestral studies at the Eastman School of Music, and music director of the New York City Opera National Company, Ash Lawn-Highland Summer Festival and Opera de Mahon in Menorca, Spain. He has also served as artistic director of the Opera Theatre and Music Festival of Lucca in Italy and director of the opera conducting course at CCM Spoleto. 

Gibson's previous engagements include the Minnesota Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Omaha Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, New York City Opera, Dallas Opera, Opera Pacific, New Orleans Opera, Cleveland Opera, Chautauqua Opera, and Spoleto U.S.A. His international credits include Central Opera of Beijing; orchestras in Beijing, Chengdu, Xi’an, Shenzhen and Qingdao, China; the Opera de Valencia; Opera de Malaga; and Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. A frequent guest lecturer on conducting, he has also led master classes and concerts at many conservatories around the world, including the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich, Seoul National University, National Taiwan Normal University, the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and the Escola Superior de Musica de Catalunya in Barcelona.

Recent appearances in Asia include New Year’s concerts in Chengdu and with the Xi’an Symphony Orchestra, holiday galas at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing as well as his debut with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra in Manila. In Korea, Gibson has led the KBS Symphony Orchestra in concert and has conducted with the Seoul Metropolitan Opera at Sejong Center. He has also appeared on the podiums of the Korean Chamber Ensemble, the New Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, the Seoul Symphony Orchestra and Gloria Opera Company, as well as teaching master classes at Seoul National University and Catholic University.

In February 2017, Oxford University Press released  Gibson’s highly anticipated and acclaimed book on conducting and musical matters, “The Beat Stops Here.”

He has a Bachelor of Music from the New England Conservatory of Music and a Master of Music from the University of Michigan.

Equally at home with opera and orchestra, Karin Hendrickson is the associate artist at Sage Gateshead, assistant conductor of the Royal Northern Sinfonia (RNS), and music director of the Young Sinfonia in association with RNS.  One of the few conductors worldwide nominated for the 2016 Salzburg Festival/Nestle Young Conductors Award, she was one of six out of 161 applicants accepted for the 2017/18 Dallas Opera Hart Institute of Women Conductors, and was one out of 142 applicants  accepted for the 2018 Royal Opera House Covent Garden Women Conductors Workshop.

Karin Hendrickson will conduct the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra

Karin Hendrickson

Conducting highlights include debuts with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Kammersymphonie Graz (Austria), Sao Paulo Symphony (Brazil), Royal Northern Sinfonia (U.K.), and Southbank Sinfonia (London).

Opera credits include music director for the premiere and tour of Opera for the Unknown Woman and for Bloomsbury Opera, and chorus master for The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden for Monteverdi's “Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria.”  She was music director for the production of Bernstein’s “MASS” at the University of North Carolina School for the Arts, and will work for Longborough Festival Opera this summer as assistant conductor for their production of Donizetti’s “Anna Bolena.” 

Hendrickson has been an assistant conductor to Marin Alsop for various concerts and projects, including her recent concert at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the BBC Proms/Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment Verdi Requiem, and the first European tour of her tenure with the Orchestra of Sao Paulo (including their Proms and Concertgebouw debuts).  She was mentored by Alsop through the Taki-Concordia Fellowship program from 2013-2015.  Other assistant conductor appointments include the Royal Ballet, Covent Garden for music director Koen Kessels, and the California Ballet.

Hendrickson has conducted festival performances with youth ensembles and has prepared young groups, including Benjamin Britten's “War Requiem” at Royal Festival Hall with Marin Alsop conducting (winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Learning and Participation); and an educational project between the London Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Barbican Centre, Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” with Gustavo Dudamel conducting. She was also music director for Garsington Youth Opera and The Royal Opera House Out Loud Festival.  In 2018 she led the INSPIRE Orchestra tour for the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, and this year will conduct the orchestra’s schools tour and serve as assistant conductor for its United Kingdom tour. She has twice led the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Shenley Academy program.

As a collaborative pianist, Hendrickson has worked with the Hot Springs Music Festival Opera and the George Mason Opera and Dance Company, and has accompanied world premiere solo performances by up-and-coming international composers and artists. She composed music for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games, sung by Aretha Franklin and released on NBC Records.

Graduating with Distinction from the conducting program at Britain’s Royal Academy of Music in 2013, Hendrickson was twice named a Gordon Foundation winner, receiving the Fred Southall Memorial Prize in her final year. Further awards include talent grants while training at the Peabody Conservatory, and an award to train at the Mozarteum, Salzburg under conductor Peter Gülke (2014 Siemens Prize winner).

Xian Zhang’s contract as music director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra has been extended until the 2023-24 season, to include the orchestra’s 100th anniversary in 2022. Of her final concerts in 2017-18, conducting Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, NJ.com wrote: “From the opening bars, Zhang imbued the work with majesty, creating the alpine atmospherics that the score calls for. The off-stage horns sounded perfect and the deep pull of Mahler’s music was in full effect. Zhang made the swooping waltzes of the second movement come to life and gave the bluesy, jazzy third movement an elegant light touch. The final movement was big and bold; the horns stood up in the grand finale and made beautiful, clarion sounds. The brass section of the NJSO has never sounded better. The NJPAC audience was on its feet at the end. This is now Zhang’s orchestra – how far can she take it between now and 2024?”

Xian Zhang will conduct the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra

Xian Zhang

In September 2016, Zhang assumed the position of principal guest conductor of the BBC National Orchestra & Chorus of Wales, becoming the first female conductor to hold a titled role with a BBC orchestra. Her 2018-19 BBC NOW season includes her first international tour with the orchestra to China. The visit is supported by British Council China and forms part of their Inspiring Women In The Arts campaign.

She also holds the post of conductor emeritus of Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, following completion of her tenure as music director from 2009–16.

by Lauren Whitaker

February 27, 2019