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Curtis Institute of Music Announces Expansion of Conducting Program

Conductors Yannick Nézet-Séguin and James Ross will take on new roles with the school to provide conducting fellows with unique mentorship


To broaden its conducting program, the Curtis Institute of Music, in Philadelphia, is creating a training program designed to provide promising young conductors with one-of-a-kind conducting mentorship in both opera and symphonic repertoire — including the addition of two new program roles.

Renowned conducting pedagogue and Curtis alumnus James Ross will be joining the faculty as Director of Orchestral Studies, starting in the 2024/25 school year. In the last two years, Ross has also helped guide Curtis students in orchestral playing and conducting and will be maintaining his position as music director of the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra.

Ross has led the NYO-USA as orchestra director since its founding in 2013 and taught conducting at the Juilliard School since 2011 and at Curtis since 2022. He served as professor and director of orchestral activities at the University of Maryland for 16 years and was the music director of Spain’s Orquesta Simfònica del Vallès.

Additionally, award-winning conductor and current Curtis faculty member Yannick Nézet-Séguin will take up Curtis’s Head of Conducting role — bringing his extensive repertoire experience as music and artistic director of The Philadelphia Orchestra and music director of the Metropolitan Opera

Also the music director of Montreal’s Orchestre Métropolitain, Nézet-Séguin holds close collaborations with the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Chamber Orchestra of Europe. 

In his new role with Curtis, he will oversee the full range of the school’s expanding conducting program and work individually with the conducting fellows, who are part of the Rita E. Hauser Conducting Fellowships, founded in 2013.

An investment from Mrs. Hauser in 2024 is also underwriting the fellowship’s program expansion, which will begin in the 2024/25 academic year — when Curtis will celebrate 100 years of exceptional music training.

The conducting fellows will also gain experience working with the school’s acclaimed voice and opera department under the guidance of Miloš Repický, the Hirsig Family Chair in Vocal Studies and principal opera coach.

Additionally, the number of fellows will increase from two to three, and the program itself will be lengthened from two to three years. 

“The expansion of Curtis’s conducting program is exciting for the future of leadership in our field,” said Nézet-Séguin in the press release. “The idea that Curtis will help create conductors who are equally at home in the worlds of both operatic and orchestral conducting — as I am — is unique in this country. These two worlds, so different in format, are woven together by the common acts of singing, shaping, and reacting.”

“Curtis is continually looking for ways to provide our students with the skills and experience to be at the forefront of classical music for years to come,” added Curtis’s president and CEO Roberto Díaz. “By reimagining what conducting training looks like, we hope to inspire and empower our artists to shape not only their careers, but our art form.”

“Curtis has been a vital influence in my life since 1987 when I first entered the conducting program fresh from an active career as a horn player. It has been a lifelong source of friendships, colleagues, decent upbeats, and essential thinking behind good music-making,” Ross reflected. “What a joy for me now to return … and to be asked to shape a next generation of inventive musicians in tandem with Yannick Nézet-Séguin as we explore this art form we love, what it means to our world today and tomorrow, and how we can make music truly come alive for everyone.”

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