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Sean Newhouse

Sean Newhouse

Sean Newhouse made an acclaimed last-minute debut with the Boston Symphony in February 2011, conducting Mahler’s Ninth Symphony on two hours’ notice in place of James Levine. The Boston Globe wrote that “The BSO often played beautifully for him, the strings digging in deeply in the final movement to produce a glowing and expressive tone.” No stranger to eleventh-hour substitutions, he also stepped in for Mario Venzago on short notice to open the Indianapolis Symphony season in 2008, to rave reviews commending his “expert” conducting and hailing the performances as “electrifying.”. He was the first American-born conductor in fifteen years to be appointed Assistant Conductor to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, a position he held at the invitation of Maestro Levine. 

Recent and upcoming engagements include debuts with the California Symphony and Burlington Chamber Orchestra, his French debut with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice at the festival “Génération Virtuoses,” a subscription week with the Boston Symphony, and debuts with the Phoenix Symphony, Hilton Head Symphony, and CityMusic Cleveland. Other recent guest conducting has taken him to the Cleveland Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony, Charleston Symphony, Lubbock Symphony, Springfield Symphony, Silesian Philharmonic, National Repertory Orchestra, and Aspen Concert Orchestra. He made his opera debut in Los Angeles in 2007 with Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges, and recently assisted James Levine in performances of Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle and Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex. In 2011, he was one of six conductors chosen from across the United States to participate in the Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview, organized by the League of American Orchestras and hosted by the Louisiana Philharmonic. In 2010, he made an acclaimed debut in Germany with the Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz.

Winner of the Aspen Conducting Prize and major prizes at the Fitelberg and Malko competitions, as well as a Career Assistance Award from the Solti Foundation U.S., Mr. Newhouse began his career by winning the highly coveted position of Music Director of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra in Los Angeles, which has launched conductors from Michael Tilson Thomas to Myung-Whun Chung to Lawrence Foster. Highlights of his three seasons with the YMF Debut Orchestra included seven world premieres, a nationally televised holiday concert, a performance for the President and First Lady of the United States, and the orchestra’s first performances on the LA County Museum of Art’s historic “Sundays Live” series. In 2006, Mr. Newhouse and the Debut Orchestra gave a special invited performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall, for the League of American Orchestras National Conference. Mr. Newhouse returned with the Debut Orchestra to Disney Hall in 2007 for an acclaimed performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10, as part of the LA Philharmonic’s “Shadow of Stalin” festival. 

After a successful three-year tenure with the Debut Orchestra, he then spent two seasons as Associate Conductor of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, conducting multiple subscription weeks and concerts on virtually every ISO series. At the conclusion of his tenure with the Indianapolis Symphony, NUVO wrote: “From his first appearance…Newhouse has impressed us with his incredible sense of balance throughout a work, his ability to personalize not only through his body language, but equally through a dimension of musicality and energy one felt with Leonard Bernstein on the podium.” Of his recent German debut, Die Rheinpfalz commented: “Newhouse was completely in his element in this program... [He] animated the energetic Staatsphilharmonie to play a lively, intense, and stylistically informed performance.” The New York Times called his performance of Joan Tower’s “Strike Zones”, in Tanglewood’s Festival of Contemporary Music, “the real dazzler of the festival”, singling out its “vitality and color.” 

Mr. Newhouse studied at the Tanglewood Music Center, the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and the Eastman School of Music, among others. His conducting mentors have included James Levine, David Zinman, Carl Topilow, and Neil Varon. Originally trained as a violinist, his teachers included Devy Erlih at the Alfred Cortot School in Paris and Joanna Owen at the Eastman School.