Morihiko Nakahara first joined the Spokane Symphony Orchestra during the 2003-2004 season as Associate Conductor. This season marks his 15th season with the Spokane Symphony, serving as Resident Conductor and appearing on Classics and SuperPops series as well as a special collaboration with the Spokane Civic Theatre on Bernstein’s “West Side Story.” The 2017-2018 season also marks Nakahara’s 10th as Music Director of the South Carolina Philharmonic. He also serves as Director of Orchestral Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
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 featured in the League of American Orchestras' prestigious Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview in March 2005. As a guest conductor, Nakahara will conduct the Stockton Symphony and the Spartanburg Philharmonic this season. Additional recent guest conducting engagements include appearances with the Buffalo Philharmonic, symphonies of Oregon, Jacksonville, Charleston, Chattanooga, Lansing, Peoria, and Green Bay, as well as with the Chicago Pro Musica. Recipient of the David Effron Conducting Fellowship at the Chautauqua Institution in 1999, he recently returned to guest conduct the Music School Festival Orchestra there.
Equally at home in a wide variety of musical styles and concert formats, Nakahara has collaborated with Chris Botti, Béla Fleck & the Flecktones, Edgar Meyer, Brandi Carlile, Pink Martini, Sergio Mendes, and Roby Lakatos to name a few. A tireless champion for the music of our times, Nakahara recently led world premieres of works by Joan Tower, Dan Visconti, and John Fitz Rogers, and has led numerous U.S. premieres of works by Japanese composers. A passionate believer in audience development and music education for all, Nakahara is a popular clinician, guest conductor, and lecturer at various educational institutions. As a personable ambassador for classical music, he is regularly featured on local media outlets, and speaks about wide ranging topics including arts advocacy, leadership and management, and economic development at local businesses and service organizations.
A native of Kagoshima, Japan, Nakahara holds degrees from Andrews University and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He previously served as Associate Conductor of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, Music Director of the Holland Symphony Orchestra (Michigan), and served on the faculty at Eastern Washington University and Andrews University.
Nakahara, his wife Lesley Hogg, and their cat Junichi reside in Northampton, MA. Stay in touch with Nakahara via Twitter and Instagram: @morihiko_naka