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Music Director


Music Director & Conductor

Scott Terrell, Biography

Music Director of the Lexington Philharmonic since 2009, conductor Scott Terrell has transformed the orchestra with his imaginative programs, engaging presence, and determined passion for artistic excellence and viability. An ardent champion of new music and diversity of repertoire, he is a visionary leader with a keen intellect for bringing context to the concert hall. Adept in a broad interpretive range of repertoire from masterworks of the orchestral canon, new commissions, opera, and works beyond the mainstream, this American conductor can, as critics have noted, “program works that entertain and educate, innovate with new works, and revitalize the old.” 

In great demand as an international guest conductor, this season holds several important engagements and debuts. He led the opera performances of William Bolcom’s A WEDDING at the 2016 Aspen Music Festival and School. This Aspen re-engagement follows his highly acclaimed 2015 concert performance of MARIA DE BUENOS AIRES that was a “highlight of the festival.” He has debuts next season with the National Arts Centre Orchestra and the Vancouver Symphony. Mr. Terrell’s recent past guest conducting engagements include performances with Opera Hong Kong, Colorado Symphony, Arizona Opera, and the Hamilton Philharmonic. He has been on the cover conductor staff of the Philadelphia Orchestra since 2012, assisting Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin and Principal Guest Conductor Stéphane Denève – and regularly leading their pre-concert lecture series. 

Having a strong affinity for vocal and operatic repertoire, Maestro Terrell continues a wealth of projects both in Lexington and abroad. This season will be his second collaboration with Kentucky Opera Studio Artists in Stephen Paulus’ moving oratorio, TO BE CERTAIN OF THE DAWN. This follows the LexPhil’s first collaborative triumph with Kentucky Opera in 2015, Osvaldo Golijov’s AINADAMAR. Mr. Terrell had a busy year of operatic debuts including Opera Hong Kong gala concerts, and Arizona Opera’s production of THE MAGIC FLUTE. Maestro Terrell lead a two-week Bernstein festival with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, including orchestral performances and vocal recitals where he served as both pianist and host. Further demonstrating his mastery of operatic repertoire, Terrell conducted Opera Colorado’s production of Humperdinck’s HANSEL AND GRETEL. He received rave reviews when he returned to Opera Colorado to lead Mozart’s ABDUCTION FROM THE SERAGLIO. He has led numerous programs at the Spoleto and Piccolo Spoleto Festivals including: Stravinsky’s BALLET RITE OF SPRING, Mahler’s DAS LIED VON DER ERDE, Humperdinck’s HANSEL AND GRETEL and Menotti’s AMAHL AND THE NIGHT VISITORS. Additionally, he led the Minnesota Opera’s production of LE NOZZE DI FIGARO. 

Terrell has led with many prestigious international organizations including Opera Colorado, Minnesota Opera, Minnesota Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Milwaukee Symphony, Aspen Music Festival, Spoleto Festival, Naples Philharmonic, Eugene Symphony, Richmond Symphony, South Dakota Symphony, Kalamazoo Symphony, Wheeling Symphony, Amarillo Symphony, and El Paso Opera. 

After a two-year search and nearly three hundred applications, Mr. Terrell was unanimously selected as Music Director of the Lexington Philharmonic. He has re-invigorated and raised the artistic level of the ensemble, expanded collaborations, increased audience and community support. He has inspired the creation of both a Composer-in-Residence and an Artist-in-Residence chair. Composers commissioned have included Daniel Thomas-Davis, Daniel Kellogg, Adam Schoenberg, and most recently in 2016, Avner Dorman. The orchestra has been awarded the Copland Award three times in his tenure, highlighting his commitment to contemporary American composers such as Jennifer Higdon, Christopher Rouse, John Adams, Michael Gandolfi, Roberto Sierra, Christopher Theofanidis, Osvaldo Golijov, and Chris Brubeck. 

Scott Terrell, Music Director of the Lexington Philharmonic

Scott Terrell, Music Director of the Lexington Philharmonic

Previously, Maestro Terrell served as Resident Conductor and Director of Education for the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, leading all the orchestra’s diverse programming such as the Backstage Pass Series, Pops Series, and Out of the Box concerts. While Assistant Conductor of Minnesota Orchestra from 1998-2003, Terrell conducted hundreds of the Minnesota Orchestra’s performances including Casual Classics, Pops, Family Concerts, Young People’s Concerts, Composer’s Institute, and Sommerfest Concerts. Mr. Terrell made his subscription performance debut in March 2002 when filling in last minute for ailing conductor, Hans Vonk. He also conducted the orchestra’s opera productions of Bernstein’s CANDIDE, and Menotti’s AMAHL AND THE NIGHT VISITORS. 

A native of Michigan, Maestro Terrell is a graduate of Western Michigan University, and the University of Minnesota in orchestral conducting. In 2000, Terrell was chosen as a fellowship conductor for the inaugural season of the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival under Music Director, David Zinman. He has participated in master classes with such distinguished conductors as Leonard Slatkin, Robert Spano, Jorma Panula, and David Robertson. At Aspen, he was awarded the prestigious Conducting Prize from David Zinman, an award recognizing exemplary musicianship and promise.

In addition, he has presented many innovative films, theatrical and operatic programs during his LexPhil tenure that have helped to grow audiences across all age groups. Projects have included Philip Glass’ ICARUS AT THE EDGE OF TIME, Peter Boyer’s ELLIS ISLAND, Osvaldo Golijov’s AINADAMAR, Holst’s THE PLANETS HD, and Charlie Chaplin’s GOLD RUSH. In addition, he initiated the Artist-in Residence partnership with the University of Kentucky Medical Center, a program that brings majors artists to patients and families across the Bluegrass Region. Artists to date have included: Midori, Johannes Moser, Inon Barnatan, Pablo Sainz-Villegas, and Time for Three. These artists have played recitals, performed school concerts, interacted with patients and their families, and participated in pop-up and community events – all to bring the power art and music into the healing process of people. 

Multi-media presentations have been a staple in Maestro Terrell’s diverse repertoire; in particular, his growing collaborations with film scores and crossover-artists. In 2016, he conducted WIZARD OF OZ for the Picnic with the Pops program at Keeneland Race Track in Lexington, and is slated to conduct Bernard Hermann’s iconic score for PSYCHO with the Vancouver Symphony. He has been a regular collaborative partner with the Colorado Symphony, leading their presentations of CASABLANCA, THE MAGICAL MUSIC OF HARRY POTTER, A COLORADO CHRISTMAS, as well as the Red Rocks Amphitheatre’s debut of Indie pop band Belle and Sebastian.