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Markand Thakar is beginning his 10th season as music director of the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra. He also conducts the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, and is principal conductor of the Duluth Festival Opera. He has earned a wide reputation for orchestra building and innovative programming and was cited by SYMPHONY magazine for "creative programming and rising artistic standards [that] fill the house," by New Yorker critic Alex Ross. Ross said, "On the subject of brilliant programming, see this season's programs by the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra," and by the Baltimore Sun, which praised his "novel programming concepts" for the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra as "one of the most successful examples of thematic programming heard around here in some time.”
With the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra Thakar has recorded three CD's for the Naxos label, including discs of concertos by Classical Era masters Stamitz, Hoffmeister and Pleyel, and music by Jonathan Leshnoff on the American Classics imprint. In December of 2010 the BCO returns to China for a series of Viennese New Year's concerts.
Thakar's appearances in recent seasons include concerts and a national radio broadcast with the New York Philharmonic, and concerts with the National, San Antonio, Columbus, Alabama, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Charlotte, Knoxville, Richmond, Colorado Springs, Chattanooga, Greensboro, Illinois, Kalamazoo, Windsor, Flint, Maryland, Ann Arbor, Waterbury, Annapolis, and Florida West Coast symphony orchestras; the Calgary and Long Island philharmonics; and the Boston Pro Arte, National, and Cleveland chamber orchestras. A frequent guest conductor at the Aspen Music Festival, Mr. Thakar has appeared with Yo-Yo Ma and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and with Itzhak Perlman and the Boulder Philharmonic, and is a winner of the Geraldine C. and Emory M. Ford Foundation Award. Familiar to national radio audiences as a frequent commentator for National Public Radio's Performance Today, he has appeared on CBS This Morning and CNN conducting the Colorado Symphony.
Formerly associate conductor of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and conductor of the Eugene Symphony's “NightMusic” pops series, Mr. Thakar was music director and conductor of the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra in New York City, the Barnard-Columbia Philharmonia, the Classical Symphony of Cincinnati, the Penn's Woods Philharmonia, and the National Festival Orchestra of the Great Lakes Festival of Musical Arts.
Thakar was awarded a Fulbright fellowship for study of orchestral conducting in Europe, and is a past winner of the national Exxon Conductors Program auditions. He earned a bachelor's degree in composition and violin performance from The Juilliard School, a master's degree in music theory from Columbia University, and a doctorate in orchestral conducting from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory, and he undertook special studies in orchestral conducting at the Curtis Institute and the Ciprian Porumbescu Conservatory in Bucharest, Romania. Other conducting studies were with Gustav Meier, Max Rudolf, and Peter Perret.
Most significant was his work conducting the Munich Philharmonic under the mentorship of Sergiu Celibidache. “From Celibidache I came to understand that the 'magic moments' that we all experience from time to time can extend - even possibly from the very first sound of a movement through the very last. In such an extended 'magic moment' we experience a remarkable transcendence: we accept the sound, we absorb the sound, we become the sound, and in so doing we transcend everyday consciousness of time and space; we touch our conscious soul in a most remarkable way. My driving interest has been an exploration of the conditions - from the composer, from us performers, and from the listener - that allow this most profoundly exquisite, life-affirming experience.”
Thakar, who writes the entertaining monthly “Maestro's Musings” column in Duluth Superior Magazine, is the author two seminal books. Counterpoint: Fundamentals of Music Making (published in English by Yale University Press and in Italian by Rugginenti Editore) uses species counterpoint to promote an understanding of how both composer and performer contribute to this experience of musical beauty. And, described as a musical “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” the forthcoming Looking for the “Harp” Quartet: An Investigation of Musical Beauty, (University of Rochester Press, 2010) is a comprehensive philosophical romp through the experience of musical beauty from the standpoint of the composer, performer, and listener. Thakar is co-director of Graduate Conducting at the Peabody Conservatory with Gustav Meier. Thakar can be visited on-line at: www.markandthakar.com.