Morihiko Nakahara has served as music director of the South Carolina Philharmonic since 2008. The 2016/2017 season also marks his 14th season with the Spokane Symphony Orchestra, first as its associate conductor and now as resident conductor.
Known for his charismatic presence on and off the podium, innovative and audience-friendly programming skills, and thoughtful interpretations of both standard and contemporary repertoire, Nakahara was featured in the League of American Orchestra’s prestigious Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview in March 2005, hosted by the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. Since then, he has developed a close working relationship with the JSO, conducting the orchestra regularly and serving as its associate conductor during the 2007/2008 season. Recent and upcoming guest conducting engagements include appearances with the Buffalo Philharmonic, symphonies of Oregon, Charleston, Chattanooga, Lansing, Peoria, and Green Bay, as well as with the Chicago Pro Musica. Recipient of the David Effron Conducting Fellowship at the Chautauqua Institution in 1999, he recently returned to guest conduct the Music School Festival Orchestra there.
Equally at home in a wide variety of musical styles and concert formats, Nakahara has collaborated with Chris Botti, Béla Fleck & the Flecktones, Brandi Carlile, Pink Martini, Sergio Mendes, and Roby Lakatos to name a few. A tireless champion for the music of our times, Nakahara recently led world premieres of works by Joan Tower, Dan Visconti, and John Fitz Rogers. A passionate believer in audience development and music education for all, Nakahara is a popular clinician, guest conductor, and lecturer at various educational institutions. As a personable ambassador for classical music, he is regularly featured on local media outlets, and speaks about wide ranging topics including arts advocacy, leadership skills, and economic development at local businesses and service organizations.
A native of Kagoshima, Japan, Nakahara holds degrees from Andrews University and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He previously served as music director of the Holland Symphony Orchestra in Michigan and taught at Eastern Washington University and Andrews University.
Updated Aug. 2016.