Theodore Kuchar – conductor (USA-Ukraine)

General information

The multiple award-winning conductor Theodore Kuchar is the most recorded conductor of his generation and appears on over 110 compact discs for the Naxos, Brilliant Classics, Ondine and Marco Polo labels. He has served as the Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of two of Europe’s leading orchestras, the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine and the Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra (formerly the Czech Radio Orchestra) while also serving as the Principal Conductor of the Slovak National Symphony Orchestra and Slovak Sinfonietta. In the 2011-12 season he commenced his tenure as the Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Orquesta Sinfonica de Venezuela and prior to that served as the Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra in Brisbane, Australia. In addition to his conducting activities he has served as the Artistic Director of two of the world’s most important chamber music festivals, The Australian Festival of Chamber Music.

(1991-2007) and the Nevada Chamber Music Festival (2003-2018). In the United States he has served as Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra (1996-2006), Fresno Philharmonic Orchestra (2001-2017) and Reno Chamber Orchestra (2002-2018).

Mr. Kuchar’s longest titled affiliation and relationship is with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, of which he was appointed the Artistic Director and Principal Conductor in 1994. They have appeared together in over 200 performances, in Kyiv and on tour on four continents while their discography totals over 70 compact discs. Most recently, they completed a 44-concert tour of North America under the auspices of Columbia Artists Management in January-March, 2017.

Conducting engagements during the 2017-18 season include the major orchestras and opera houses of Ankara, Antalya, Beijing, Buenos Aires, Helsingborg, Helsinki, Istanbul, Kharkiv, Kyiv and Prague, among others. In February-March, 2017 he conducted a 44 concert tour of North America with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine under the auspices of Columbia Artists Management, having been subsequently reengaged for the 2021-22 season. The opening two months of the 2016-17 season have included two weeks each with his two American orchestras, a three-week residency at The Cleveland Institute of Music where he opened that distinguished institution’s orchestral season and conducted daily masterclasses and seminars for advanced tertiary conductors and instrumentalists and a two-week engagement with the Staatskapelle Weimar in Bayreuth, Dresden and Weimar. Highlights of the past several seasons have included a four-week, 20 concert tour of the USA with the Czech Symphony Orchestra and guest conducting engagements including the BBC Symphony, BBC National Symphony Orchestra of Wales (filling in on one day’s notice to conduct Josef Suk’s epic Asrael Symphony), English Chamber Orchestra, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Israel Symphony Orchestra, Prague Symphony Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic and the National Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. Equally committed to musical theatre he has held a special relationship, totaling over 300 performances, with the Finnish National Opera and Ballet. He has collaborated with major artists including James Galway, Shlomo Mintz, Jessye Norman, Lynn Harrell, Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Sarah Chang, Mstislav Rostropovich, Joshua Bell, Robert Levin and Frederica von Stade, among others.

Among Mr. Kuchar’s numerous accolades include BBC Record of the Year, Australian Broadcasting Corporation Record of the Year, Chamber Music America Record of the Year, Gramophone Magazine’s Editor’s Choice, the WQXR Record of the Year and a Grammy nomination in the category of Best Instrumental Album of 2013. The 2016-17 season saw the release of seven new compact discs, devoted to the complete symphonies of Ukrainian Boris Lyatoshynsky and Yevhen Stankovych (National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine), orchestral works by the Turkish composer Ulvi Camal Erkin (with the Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra) and American composer Walter Saul.

As an educator and orchestral trainer he has held a longterm relationship with The Cleveland Institute of Music and served as Resident Conductor of the Kent/Blossom Music Festival, the educational institution established by the late George Szell, in cooperation with The Cleveland Orchestra (2003-2012). Since 2003, he has devoted himself to annual residencies at The Cleveland Institute of Music, the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra, the Canberra School of Music at the Australian National University, the Czech National Academy of Music, the National Academy of Music in Kiev and the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, among others. In 2006, he developed the annual conductor’s courses in cooperation with the Paris Conservatoire and hosted by the Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra in the Czech Republic. In March, 2012 he served on the faculty of the Conductor’s Guild Workshop hosted by The Cleveland Institute of Music. During the period 1996-2002 he served as Professor and Director of Orchestral Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder. In July, 2018 he will serve as Artistic Director of the inaugural International Conductor’s Institute, an annual training program for advanced orchestral conductors. with the Lviv Philharmonic Orchestra in Lviv, Ukraine.

With the Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra, Kuchar has recorded 15 compact discs devoted to the complete symphonies of Carl Nielsen, the complete overtures and tone poems of Dvorak, and the complete orchestral works of Czech composer Bedrich Smetana for the Brilliant Classics label. Also completed for Brilliant Classics was a world premiere recording of Rachmaninov’s Fifth Piano Concerto, a reconstruction of that composer’s Second Symphony based on the composer’s earliest manuscripts, and the Piano Concertos of Ravel and Bartók. With the Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra, Kuchar has conducted tours of Australia, Germany, Italy, Korea, The Netherlands, Switzerland, and the USA.

During his tenure with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, Kuchar conducted cycles of the complete symphonies by Beethoven, Bruckner, Mahler, Mozart, Prokofiev, Schubert and Shostakovich, and led eleven international tours to Asia, Australia, Central Europe and the United Kingdom. Under Mr. Kuchar’s direction, the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine became the most frequently recorded orchestra of the former Soviet Union. Between 1994 and 2004 the orchestra recorded over 80 compact discs for the Naxos and Marco Polo labels, including the complete symphonies of Kalinnikov, Lyatoshynsky, Martinu and Prokofiev, as well as major works of Chadwick, Dvorak, Glazunov, Morton Gould, Mozart, Piston, Shchedrin, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky. They also recorded the symphonies and orchestral works of Ukraine’s leading contemporary symphonist, Yevhen Stankovych. The recording of Lyatoshynsky’s Symphonies Nos. 2 and 3 was awarded ABC’s “Best International Recording of the Year” in 1994. Their recording of the complete works for violin and orchestra by Walter Piston for the Naxos label was hailed by Gramophone (January, 2000) as a “Record of the Year” for 1999. The complete symphonies of Prokofiev, on the Naxos label, are regarded by many critics as the most accomplished cycle available on compact disc.

Kuchar remains as strong an advocate of composers of the present day as he does of the great composers of the past. In addition to his recordings of contemporary works with the NSO of Ukraine, he has also conducted premieres of works by Lukas Foss (the Capriccio for Cello and Orchestra, with Yo-Yo Ma as soloist), Giya Kancheli, Joseph Schwantner, Alfred Schnittke, Osvaldo Golijov and Rodion Shchedrin, among others. He has led numerous operatic productions in centers including Buenos Aires, Caracas, Helsinki, Kiev, Prague and San Francisco with soloists including Jessye Norman, Frederica von Stade, Joseph Calleja, Jorma Hynninen, Isabel Bayrakdarian and Kelley O’Connor, among others

Theodore Kuchar graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Music as a student of Robert Vernon, Principal Violist of The Cleveland Orchestra. He was awarded the Paul Fromm Fellowship from the Boston Symphony Orchestra at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, subsequently reinvited for the following summer. He continues to devote several periods annually to one of his most serious passions, the performance of chamber music and has been a participant at major international festivals, including Kuhmo, Lockenhaus, the Australian Festival of Chamber Music and the Nevada Chamber Music Festival. His colleagues have included James Buswell, Martin Chalifour, Sarah Chang, Lynn Harrell, Alexander Ivashkin, Robert Levin, Truls Mork, Irina Schnittke, and Thomas Zehetmair. In 1994, he participated with colleagues Oleh Krysa and Alexander Ivashkin in the world premiere of Penderecki’s String Trio in New York City. He has appeared as violist in recordings on the Naxos label of works by Alfred Schnittke (with Irina Schnittke and Mark Lubotsky – this recording was awarded the BBC’s “CD of the Year” award for 2002), Bohuslav Martinu and Walter Piston. The latter recording was awarded the Chamber Music America/WQXR “Record of the Year” for 2001.