Recognized by critics, orchestras, and audiences alike as "a splendid conductor" possessing "a poet's sensitivity and a craftsman's efficiency," Morihiko Nakahara is making a name for himself. He has been with the Spokane Symphony since the 2002-03 Season, first as Associate Conductor and now in a redefined role of Resident Conductor. In addition, he has served as Music Director of the South Carolina Philharmonic since Fall 2008.
Regarded as a leading conductor equally at home in a wide range of repertoire and concert formats, Nakahara was featured in the League of American Orchestras' prestigious Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview in March 2005, hosted by the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. Since then, he has developed a close working relationship with the JSO, conducting the orchestra annually and serving as its associate conductor during the 2007-08 Season. As a guest conductor, Nakahara has led the symphonies of Toledo, Lansing, Peoria, Lubbock, Southwest Michigan, Billings, and Missoula, the Chattanooga Symphony and the Green Bay Symphony, as well as the Chicago Pro Musica and the Lexington Philharmonic.
During his six year tenure as Music Director and Conductor of the Holland Symphony Orchestra in Michigan, Nakahara became known for his charismatic presence on and off the podium, his innovative and audience-friendly programming and his thoughtful interpretations of both standard and contemporary repertoire. 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 of Nakahara would surprise nobody who has seen him work."
Nakahara is a personable ambassador for classical music, acclaimed as a versatile artist and a passionate believer in music education for all ages. In conjunction with the Spokane Symphony, he designed and conducted numerous educational and community engagement concerts. Nakahara is also a popular guest conductor and clinician with youth orchestras, collegiate ensembles, and high school honor orchestras and bands throughout the Northwest and nationally, including the Boston University Tanglewood Institute's Young Artist Orchestra.
A native of Kagoshima, Japan, Nakahara holds a Master of Music degree in Instrumental Conducting from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Rodney Winther. In 1998 he received a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education with distinction from Andrews University. He has done additional conducting studies with Larry Rachleff, Mark Gibson, Jerry Junkin, and Alan Mitchell. He has taught at Eastern Washington University and Andrews University. Currently, he divides his time between Spokane and Columbia, S.C.