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Conductor and Co-emcee

Edwin Outwater is Artistic Director of the Eastern Sierra Symphony in Mammoth Lakes, CA, Artistic Director of The Line-Up in Chicago, and Music Director Laureate of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony in Ontario, Canada. He previously served as SFS director of summer concerts (2014 to 2017), resident conductor (2001 to 2006), and Wattis Foundation Music Director of the SFS Youth Orchestra (2001 to 2005). He premiered and recorded The Composer is Dead by Nathaniel Stookey and Lemony Snicket, which was subsequently released by HarperCollins and has become one of the most-performed works written in the twenty-first century; and in 2008, his SFS recording of music by Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate was released.

Mr. Outwater’s recent projects include Sound Health, a collaboration with soprano Renée Fleming, the Kennedy Center, and the National Institutes of Health; and a jazz version of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, with Wynton Marsalis, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and the Chicago Symphony. He also appeared with the Orchestra of Saint Luke’s at Carnegie Hall in a concert for families featuring a world premiere by composer Caroline Shaw, narrated by actor John Lithgow. This season, Chicago was introduced to The Line-Up, an outdoor concert series Mr. Outwater created and curated at Gallagher Way, which combines multi-genre music performances with the technology and capabilities of professional sports. This month he conducts and curates a program in the SFS SoundBox series, leads the Holiday Brass program, and conducts and co-emcees the New Year’s Gaiety concert.

As music director of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony from 2007 to 2017, Mr. Outwater led world premieres from a wide range of composers, including Nico Muhly, Nicole Lizée, Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry, Owen Pallett, and many others. His Intersections series connected orchestral music to other disciplines, including quantum physics, neuroscience, literature, film, food, and yoga. In 2016 he created “Hack the Orchestra,” the first ever orchestra hackathon that challenged young programmers to create new content for the concert experience.

Mr. Outwater’s conducting may be heard on two releases: Expanded, with These New Puritans, and Sarah Kirkland Snider’s album Unremembered, released on New Amsterdam Records. In 2011 Mr. Outwater directed the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony on its first commercial CD release in more than a decade, From Here On Out, which features the music of Nico Muhly, Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, and Richard Reed Parry, on the Analekta label. 

A native of Santa Monica, CA, Mr. Outwater attended Harvard University, graduating cum laude in 1993 with a degree in English literature; he received his master’s degree in conducting from UC Santa Barbara.