Philharmonia Northwest is pleased to announce that conductor Julia Tai has been appointed Music Director. A doctoral graduate of the University of Washington’s instrumental conducting program, Tai begins the post immediately and will conduct her first concert as Music Director in October, 2011. This announcement follows a year-long conductor search; Roupen Shakarian, who held the position since 1986, stepped down in May, 2010.
“I am thrilled and honored for this opportunity,” said Tai, “Philharmonia Northwest has had a long and wonderful history in Seattle. I look forward to continuing that tradition and working with this outstanding group of musicians. I am particularly excited to explore repertoire new to this ensemble and to share our music making with new audiences in the community.
“Julia is an amazing talent,” said Janice Gockel, President of the Philharmonia Northwest Board of Directors. “When she guest conducted the orchestra this spring, it was clear that she was a great fit. Her ideas for developing the orchestra, both musically and as an organization, are fresh and exciting. I have no doubt that her artistic leadership will take Philharmonia to even greater heights.”
30 year-old, Taipei-born Julia Tai has already established herself as one of the most capable young conductors on both the international stage as well as in Seattle’s musical scene. She has lead performances and rehearsals with the American Youth Symphony, Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra, Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic, Brandenburger Symphoniker, Buffalo Philharmonic, Estonian National Youth Symphony, New Symphony Orchestra, and Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil Carlos Chávez. She was also a quarter finalist in the fourth Eduardo Mata Conducting Competition in Mexico. In addition to her international appearances, Tai is already recognized locally as a prominent innovator of Seattle’s music scene, having premiered many works with the Seattle Chamber Players, Seattle Experimental Opera, and the Affinity Ensemble of the Washington Composers Forum. A champion of contemporary music, she is the founder and co-artistic director of the Seattle Modern Orchestra. She has also served as associate conductor of the Rainier Symphony and conductor of the Westside Community Orchestras, an ensemble which brings musical and artistic development to the deserving young musicians of under-funded school districts and to the community at large.
Tai began her musical studies on the violin at age four and took up the piano at eight. She received her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music Degrees from the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, where she was honored with the departmental award of “Outstanding Graduate of 2004.” She obtained her Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from the University of Washington, where she served as the principal conductor of the Contemporary Ensemble and the assistant conductor of the University Symphony. Tai has studied with renowned teachers such as Neeme Järvi, Daniel Lewis, Gustav Meier, Otto-Werner Müller, Jorma Panula, and Larry Rachleff. Her principal conducting teachers were Peter Erös and Jorge Mester.