Markand Thakar , music director of Baltimore Chamber Orchestra and Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra, and principal conductor of Duluth Festival Opera, has earned a wide reputation for orchestra building and innovative programming. He was cited by SYMPHONY magazine for "creative programming and rising artistic standards [that] fill the house," by New Yorker critic Alex Ross, who says, "On the subject of brilliant programming see this season's programs by the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra," and by Baltimore Sun, which praises his "novel programming concepts" for Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, and "one of the most successful examples of thematic programming heard around here in some time.”
With Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, Thakar has recorded three CD's for the Naxos label, including disks of concertos by Classical Era masters Stamitz, Hoffmeister, and Pleyel, and music by Jonathan Leshnoff on the American Classics imprint. In December of 2010 the BCO travels to China to perform a series of Viennese New Year's concerts.
A former assistant conductor of New York Philharmonic, Thakar’s appearances include concerts and a national radio broadcast with that orchestra, as well as concerts with National, San Antonio, Columbus, Alabama, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Charlotte, Wichita, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Richmond, Colorado Springs, Greensboro, Illinois, Kalamazoo, Windsor, Flint, Maryland, Ann Arbor, Waterbury, Annapolis, and Florida West Coast symphony orchestras; Calgary, Long Island, and Ulsan (South Korea) philharmonics; and Boston Pro Arte, National, and Cleveland chamber orchestras; and opera productions with Baltimore Opera Theater, Teatro Lirico d’Europa, Opera on the James, and Duluth Festival Opera.
A frequent guest conductor at the Aspen Music Festival, Mr. Thakar has appeared with Yo-Yo Ma and Colorado Symphony Orchestra and with Itzhak Perlman and Boulder Philharmonic. He is a winner of Geraldine C. and Emory M. Ford Foundation Award. Familiar to national radio audiences as a frequent commentator for National Public Radio’s Performance Today, he has appeared on CBS This Morning and CNN conducting Colorado Symphony.
Formerly associate conductor of Colorado Symphony Orchestra and conductor of Eugene Symphony’s “NightMusic” pops series, Mr. Thakar was music director and conductor of Amadeus Chamber Orchestra in New York City, Barnard-Columbia Philharmonia, Classical Symphony of Cincinnati, Penn’s Woods Philharmonia, and National Festival Orchestra of the Great Lakes Festival of Musical Arts.
Thakar was awarded a Fulbright fellowship for study of orchestral conducting in Europe and is a past winner of the national Exxon Conductors Program auditions. He earned a bachelor’s degree in composition and violin performance from The Juilliard School; a master’s degree in music theory from Columbia University; a doctorate in orchestral conducting from Cincinnati College-Conservatory; and he undertook special studies in orchestral conducting at Curtis Institute and Ciprian Porumbescu Conservatory in Bucharest, Romania. Other conducting studies were with Gustav Meier, Max Rudolf and Peter Perret.
Most significant was his work conducting the Munich Philharmonic under the mentorship of Sergiu Celibidache. “From Celibidache I came to understand that the ‘magic moments’ that we all experience from time to time can extend - even possibly from the very first sound of a movement through the very last. In such an extended ‘magic moment’ we experience a remarkable transcendence: we accept the sound, we absorb the sound, we become the sound, and in so doing we transcend everyday consciousness of time and space; we touch our conscious soul in a most remarkable way. My driving interest has been an exploration of the conditions—from the composer, from us performers, and from the listener—that allow this most profoundly exquisite, life-affirming experience.”
Thakar, who wrote the entertaining monthly “Maestro’s Musings” column in Duluth Superior Magazine for over three years, is the author of two seminal books. Counterpoint: Fundamentals of Music Making (published in English by Yale University Press, in Italian by Rugginenti Editore, and soon to be issued in Czech) uses species counterpoint to promote an understanding of how both composer and performer contribute to the experience of musical beauty. His recently released Looking for the “Harp” Quartet; An Investigation into Musical Beauty (University of Rochester Press, 2011) is a comprehensive romp through the experience of musical beauty from the standpoints of the composer, performer, and listener. The book is described as “a 225-page tour de force,” and “an exercise in academic excellence and a seminal contribution for personal, professional, and academic classical music studies,” (Midwest Book Review).
Thakar is Co-Director of Graduate Conducting at Peabody Conservatory with Gustav Meier and lives in Baltimore with his wife, violist Victoria Chiang, and their son Oliver.