A dynamic and innovative presence both on and off the podium, Indian American conductor Roger Kalia is a respected collaborator with orchestras and artists alike, known for his eloquent and compelling interpretations, and for bringing a “fresh view to classical music.” Newly named Music Director of Indiana’s 87-year-old Evansville Philharmonic, he begins his tenure this fall 2020. Kalia also serves as Music Director of New Hampshire’s 97-year-old orchestra, Symphony NH (Symphony New Hampshire), and of California’s Orchestra Santa Monica. He co-founded and serves as Music Director of the celebrated Lake George Music Festival in upstate New York, which celebrated its tenth anniversary in August 2020.
Recent highlights include two orchestra premieres with Symphony NH: American composer Chris Rogerson’s Luminosity and Jacobson / Aghaei’s Ascending Bird; and with Orchestra Santa Monica a collaboration with pianist / composer Murray Hidary in a unique, multi-sensory concert. Kalia lead Pacific Symphony’s first-ever Dia de los Muertos concerts featuring a variety of groups from around the community. Guest engagements include debuts with Ohio’s Lima Symphony, and the Redlands Bowl Summer Festival in a streamed virtual concert with the Hollywood Chamber Orchestra, Indiana’s Evansville Philharmonic, the symphony orchestras of Bakersfield, Spokane and Wheeling, the Comarda Chamber Orchestra, and Poland’s Szczecin Philharmonic.
Equally at home with modern repertoire as he is with popular warhorses, Roger Kalia is a passionate advocate of contemporary music, and has commissioned and/or programmed numerous works by some of today’s most exciting living American composers, including Paul Dooley, Reena Esmail, Brendan Faegre, Missy Mazzoli, Narong Prangcharoen, Sarah Snider, Harry Stafylakis, Austin Wintory, Michael Daugherty, and Paul Chihara. Most recently, Kalia led the U.S. premieres of Michael Murray’s Pilgrims and King David’s Dance with musicians of Pacific Symphony and has commissioned and led several world and state premieres at Lake George Music Festival which are frequently broadcast on NPR’s Performance Today. They include Chris Rogerson’s Four Meditations for Orchestra, Sheridan Seyfried’s Double Concerto for Two Violins and Orchestra, and the New York premiere of Paul Dooley’s Northern Lights.
Kalia is a staunch supporter of music education, and in addition to his responsibilities to the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra, he has conducted numerous youth and collegiate orchestras, including the 2018 Missouri All-State Symphony Orchestra, The Colburn Orchestra, California State University Fullerton Symphony Orchestra, Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra and the Irvine Seraphim Symphony. He has created family and educational concerts in a variety of concert formats, and has collaborated on the education platform with such renowned artists and ensembles as Cirque de la Symphony, Orange County’s Festival Ballet Theater, speed painter Dan Dunn, and the Magic Circle Mime Co. Furthermore, Kalia has also served as an instructor of conducting at USC’s Thornton School of Music.
A native of New York State, Roger Kalia holds degrees from Indiana University, the University of Houston and SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music. His primary mentors include David Effron, Arthur Fagen, and Franz Anton Krager. Among his honors and awards are a 2019 Solti Foundation Elizabeth Buccheri Opera Residency with Lyric Opera of Chicago, assisting Sir Andrew Davis for Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, four Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Awards, a Project Inclusion Conducting Freeman Fellowship with the Chicago Sinfonietta under Mei-Ann Chen, and an American Academy of Conducting Fellowship at the Aspen Music Festival with Robert Spano.
Maestro Kalia recently stepped down at the end of the 2019-20 season as Music Director of California’s Pacific Youth Symphony Orchestra, and as Associate Conductor of Pacific Symphony, a post he was promoted to in 2019 after serving as Assistant Conductor since the 2015-16 season. Earlier posts were with the Young Musicians Foundation (YMF) Debut Orchestra, the Charlotte Symphony and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra (IN). Kalia is married to musicologist/violinist Christine Wisch.
[Updated September 2020]