Eckart Preu is celebrating his 15th season with the Spokane Symphony. During his time here, he has received rave reviews from critics, audience members and musicians. He was recently named music director of the Portland Symphony Orchestra (ME), starting with the 2019-20 season. In addition, Preu is the music director of the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra (CA), and music director of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra.
Previously, he held the positions of music director of the Stamford Symphony (CT), associate conductor of the Richmond Symphony (VA), and resident conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra (NY). Other former posts include resident conductor of the American Russian Young Artists Orchestra, music director of the Norwalk Youth Symphony (CT) and principal conductor of the New Amsterdam Symphony (NY). In Europe, he served as music director of the Orchestre International de Paris (1993-95).
Career highlights include performances at Carnegie Hall, the Sorbonne in Paris, a live broadcast with the Jerusalem Symphony, and his first commercial recording of the world premiere of Letters from Lincoln, a work commissioned by the Spokane Symphony from Michael Daugherty, featuring baritone soloist Thomas Hampson.
A passionate performer of the core classical repertoire, Preu also believes in presenting neglected works. Past seasons featured compositions by Bloch, Berio, Markevich and Schreker. Promoting and furthering the performance of American music, Preu conducted the world premieres of Clarinet Concerto No. 4 by William Thomas McKinley with soloist Richard Stoltzman, and “Prayer for Peace” by Roger Davidson. Also a supporter of contemporary music, last season Preu conducted the U.S. premiere of Torsten Rasch’s “Tropoi” Violin Concerto. He presented 14 works by living composers in the 2016-17 season. Preu and the Spokane Symphony won a national first place
award from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) in 2014 for efforts to expand the symphonic repertoire through adventurous programming.
A native of Germany, Preu came to the United States as winner of the National Conducting Competition of the German Academic Exchange Service in 1996 for graduate studies with Harold Farberman of the Hartt School of Music where he also received the Karl Boehm Scholarship. In Germany, he earned a master’s degree in conducting from the Hochschule fur Musik in Weimar, studying under Gunter Kahlert and Nicolas Pasquet. He also studied under Jean-Sebastien Bereau at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris in France. His education was made possible by scholarships from the Herbert von Karajan Foundation, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the French Ministry of Culture.
Preu’s early musical training was in piano and voice. At 10, he became a member of the Dresden Boys’ Choir, and went on to work with them as a soloist, rehearsal pianist and assistant conductor.
Preu and his wife, Neeley, live in Spokane with their two daughters, Sophia and Victoria.