Morihiko Nakahara is the resident conductor of the Spokane Symphony. He joined the orchestra during the 2003-04 season as associate conductor. This season marks his 16th year with the Spokane Symphony, and he is one of the “Final Five”
Spokane Symphony music director finalists.
The 2018-19 season also marks Nakahara’s 11th season as music director of the South Carolina Philharmonic, and he is the 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 was featured in the League of American Orchestra’s 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 guest conducting engagements include appearances with the Buffalo Philharmonic, symphonies of Oregon, Jacksonville, Charleston, Chattanooga, Lansing, Peoria, and Green Bay, as well as with Chicago Pro Musica. He was a recipient of the David Effron Conducting Fellowship at the Chautauqua Institution in 1999, and he has returned there to guest conduct the Music School Festival Orchestra.
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 in 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 (MI), 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