South Carolina Philharmonic
Recognized by critics, orchestras, and audiences alike as "a splendid conductor" possessing "a poet's sensitivity and a craftsman's efficiency," Morihiko Nakahara begins his tenure as Associate Conductor of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra during the 2007-2008 season. Since 2003, he has also served as Associate Conductor of the Spokane Symphony Orchestra and Director of Orchestras at Eastern Washington University.
Increasingly regarded as a leading young conductor equally at home in a wide range of repertoire and concert formats, Nakahara was featured in the American Symphony Orchestra League's National Conductor Preview in March 2005. During the 2006-2007 season, the Bruno Walter Memorial Foundation honored Nakahara and the Spokane Symphony Orchestra with the title of Bruno Walter Associate Conductor Chair and Career Development Grant.
Known for his charismatic presence on and off the podium, innovative and audience-friendly programming skills, and thoughtful interpretations of both standard and contemporary repertoire, Nakahara recently completed a successful six year tenure as Music Director and Conductor of the Holland Symphony Orchestra in Michigan. The Grand Rapids Press declared, "what is notable is how musically and expressively the orchestra performs. Credit for that goes to its music director. International success for Nakahara would surprise nobody who has seen him work."
Acclaimed as a versatile artist and a passionate believer in music education for all ages, Nakahara leads a series of successful educational and community access concerts with the Spokane Symphony Orchestra every season. In addition, he has been a popular clinician, guest conductor, and speaker at various educational institutions throughout the Northwest. As a personable ambassador for classical music, Nakahara makes frequent appearances on local media outlets as well as at local businesses and service clubs.
Nakahara's guest conducting engagements will take him to the Lansing Symphony, South Carolina Philharmonic, and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Young Artists Orchestra during the 2007-2008 season. Other recent engagements have taken him to the symphonies of Toledo, Lubbock, Southwest Michigan, and Missoula.
A native of Kagoshima, Japan, Nakahara holds degrees from Andrews University and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He studied conducting with Rodney Winther, Timothy Muffitt, Mark Gibson, Lawrence Leighton Smith, Larry Rachleff, and Alan Mitchell, among others.