Faculty

Conductors
Maurice Peress, Director/Conductor
Donald Portnoy, Guest Conductor
George Rothman, Guest Conductor
Tong Chen, Guest Conductor

Composers
Bruce Saylor, Guest Composer
David Amram, Guest Composer

Staff
Audrey Edelstein, Manager

PeressMaurice Peress has served as Music Director of the Corpus Christi, Austin, Kansas City, and New Britain orchestras, and has been a guest conductor in China, Israel, Brazil, and many venues in Europe. His long association with Leonard Bernstein began in 1961 as an assistant conductor with the New York Philharmonic and led to his conducting the world premiere of Bernstein’s Mass for the opening of the Kennedy Center (1971). He also worked closely with Duke Ellington as arranger and editor of his symphonic scores. As President of the Conductors Guild (1980–1982) he helped establish the CG Journal, the first Conductor’s Institute, and the Guild’s Annual Conference.

Maestro Peress has authored many articles and a book, Dvorak to Duke Ellington: A Conductor Explores America’s Music and Its African American Roots (Oxford, 2004). In 1984 he joined the faculty of the Aaron Copland School of Music to lead its orchestra and establish an MA program for conductors. He is especially proud of his former students, many of whom hold posts with orchestras and universities in the U.S. and abroad.

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PortnoyDonald Portnoy holds the Ira McKissick Koger Endowed Chair for the Fine Arts at the University of South Carolina, and is also founder and director of its Conductors Institute. In recent years the Institute has spread its wings, adding a week of opera training at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston and two weeks in Beijing.

As a violinist, he performs regularly with the ensemble he founded, the American Arts Trio. A guest conductor of orchestras here and abroad, Dr. Portnoy is in his thirteenth year as Music Director of the Augusta Symphony Orchestra and, for the past six seasons has been Principal Guest Conductor of the National Opera Orchestra in Beijing.

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RothmanGeorge Rothman is co-founder and Music Director of the Riverside Symphony since 1981. The ensemble has been praised for its award-winning recordings and unusual programming of over two-hundred premieres and lesser- known works by composers as diverse as Biber, Haydn, Sibelius, Prokofiev, and Ravel. He has guest conducted throughout Asia, Europe, South America, and the U.S.

A native New Yorker, Maestro Rothman trained at the Manhattan School of Music and the Juilliard School, and at the Aaron Copland School under Maurice Peress; he also worked at Tanglewood under Leonard Bernstein and Seiji Ozawa. He has served on the faculty of Columbia and Yale Universities, and currently is Music Director and Conductor of Brooklyn College’s Conservatory Orchestra.

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Tong Chen has worked with numerous orchestras across the globe, including Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo (Brazil), Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Besançon Symphony Orchestra (France), Leipzig Symphony Orchestra,  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Charleston Symphony Orhcestra, Richmond Symphony, New Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Aspen Music Festival Orchestra, Manhattan School of Music Orchestra, Orchestra St. Luke’s, Peabody Symphony Orchestra, XiaMen Philharmonic (China) and Shanghai Opera House. A frequent cover conductor with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony, she has also engaged as the cover/assistant conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic for two seasons.

A conducting fellow of the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen, Tong studied with and mentored by David Zinman for two summers. Ms. Chen was chosen by Kurt Masur as the recipient of the 2012 Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Scholarship in Leipzig. In 2015, Ms. Chen made her Lincoln Center debut at David H. Koch Theater with the Paul Taylor Dance Company and Orchestra St.Luke’s.  This season, Tong Chen starts her first year as the Music Director of the Yonkers Philharmonic Orchestra. Currently, Tong is based in New York City, teaches conducting and runs the orchestra at Aaron Copland School of Music, Queens College, where she works with her mentor Maestro Maurice Peress. 

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