Rei Hotoda, the newly appointed Music Director of the Fresno Philharmonic, is widely considered one of America’s most sought after and dynamic artists. She has appeared as a guest conductor with many of today’s leading ensembles, including the Symphony Orchestras of Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Edmonton, Fort Worth, Jacksonville, Utah, Toronto, Toledo, Nova Scotia, and Winnipeg, as well as the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and the Colorado and the St. Louis Symphonies, among others. Her repertoire spans the masterful staples of the classical canon to works by the leading composers of today, and she is equally at home leading the orchestra from the piano as well as from the podium.
In 2017-18 Rei begins her exciting tenure as the newly appointed Music Director of the Fresno Philharmonic. In this position she will provide overall artistic leadership through conducting the orchestra throughout the season; develop and broaden programing that will enliven current audiences and engage those new to the organization; work with the board of directors, musicians and administration on developing and articulating a compelling artistic vision for the Fresno Philharmonic as a 21st century orchestra; and cultivate and create partnerships with other cultural institutions that will celebrate and embrace the diverse community in Fresno.
Community engagement, inspiring the next generation of musicians, a deep commitment to family and education outreach, artistic diversity, and collaborating with a wide array of artists outlined Rei’s tenure as Associate Conductor for the Utah Symphony, a position she held from 2015-2017. After making her debut in Utah, leading the ensemble from the piano, Rei conducted the ensemble in a variety of programs both at Abravanel Hall and on regional tours, in large-scale orchestral programs such as the Ives Symphony No. 4 and Handel’s Messiah as well as assisted in recordings, including Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and a release of composer Andrew Norman’s Switch. She worked closely with many guest artists from varying genres, such as bluegrass ensemble Steep Canyon Rangers to guitarist Pablo Villegas and led the orchestra in the 2016 Gina Bachauer Young Artist Piano Competition, which was streamed live to audiences across the globe. Her passion for inspiring the next generation of musicians was in full bloom when she led the Utah Symphony in their much-lauded Salute to Youth concerts and was thrilled to have one of her conducting students from Utah chosen as a 2017 conductor apprentice in the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America at Carnegie Hall.
Upcoming highlights of Rei’s 2017 summer season include her debut with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra; a new opera composed by Gene Coleman, entitled Dreamlives of Debris, in Chicago; and a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 on the Intermezzo Chamber Music Series in Utah. Additionally, Rei will conclude her position with the Utah Symphony this summer leading the orchestra in a number of concerts at the Deer Valley® Music Festival and out in the community. She will also embark on a week-long tour with the Utah Symphony, under the direction of its Music Director, Thierry Fischer, celebrating Utah’s natural resources and rich cultural heritage, entitled the “Great American Road Trip.”
Additional highlights of Rei’s 2016-17 season included several debuts with major orchestras in the United States and Canada: The Fresno Philharmonic, Toledo Symphony Orchestra, San Luis Obispo Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Nova Scotia, North Carolina Symphony and the Atlantic Classical Orchestra. She made return guest conducting appearances with the Thunder Bay Symphony, St. Louis Symphony and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. She collaborated with such artists as pianist Shai Wosner and Charlie Albright, oboist Suzanne Lemieux and trumpet player Jens Lindemann.
A consummate advocate of new music, Rei has conducted premieres of works by such notable composers as John Cage, Gene Coleman, Luc Ferrari, Dai Fujikura, and Salvatore Sciarrino, and has championed and recorded compositions by female composers, including Vivian Fung, Jennifer Higdon, and Kotoka Suzuki. She has led one of the country’s most noted contemporary groups, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). As part of the Winnipeg New Music Festival, she appeared as both a pianist and conductor, performing works by such composers as George Crumb, Nicole Lizée, Vincent Ho, and Erkki-Sven Tüür, and was a featured conductor and pianist leading the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in Brand Upon the Brain, a film by internationally renowned director, Guy Maddin. Most recently, Rei led the St. Louis Symphony, alongside David Robertson, in the US premiere of John Cage’s Thirty Pieces for Five Orchestras, which garnered much critical acclaim.
As a recording artist, Rei’s credits are wide-ranging and feature her as both conductor and piano soloist. She recorded the music of Nicole Lizée with members of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra on an album released in 2008 on the Centrediscs label entitled, This Will Not be Televised. Also in 2008, Apparitions, her first recording as a solo pianist, was released by Signpost Records and featured works by Noriko Hisada, Vincent Ho, and Toru Takemitsu. Symphony Sessions was released in 2007 (Signpost Records), and featured Rei conducting the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in works by Juno award winner, Steve Bell. She has worked very closely with several conductors on major recording projects, including Thierry Fischer and the Utah Symphony Orchestra on a live recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 that featured the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the orchestra’s separate CD of contemporary works by Andrew Norman and Nico Muhly as well as Beethoven’s Symphonies Nos. 5 and 7 with Manfred Honeck leading the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
Rei is also an accomplished pianist. She is equally at home leading the orchestra from the piano as well as from the podium. She has appeared as soloist conducting from the piano with the Dallas, Edmonton, Utah, and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestras, performing works by Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart.
Her deep knowledge and remarkable versatility on and off the podium have led to several collaborations and special projects. She has worked with such ensembles and artists as cellists Johannes Moser and Ken Olsen; violinists Will Hagen and Bella Hristova; pianists Jon Nakamatsu, Joyce Yang and Shai Wosner; guitarist Pablo Villegas; trumpet player Jens Lindemann; harpist Bridget Kibbey; ensembles such as the Canadian Brass, the Indigo Girls, Steep Canyon Rangers, and Pink Martini; singers Idina Menzel, Jackie Evancho, Michael Feinstein, and Ben Folds; comic diva Natalie Choquette; and actor Michael Boudewyns. In addition to her work as a pianist and conductor on Guy Maddin’s film Brand Upon the Brain, she was also a featured actress in a short film by the same director entitled, Send Me to the ‘Lectric Chair, starring Isabella Rossellini.
Prior to her growing achievements as a guest conductor, Rei served as assistant conductor at several of today’s leading orchestras and festivals. She was the assistant conductor at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra from 2009-2012 and led the ensemble in many diverse series both at Meyerson Hall and out in the community. From 2006-2009 she served as the assistant conductor of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO) where she led the orchestra in many subscription concerts, including those on the Masterworks series as well as those that were part of the New Music and Baroque Festivals. At the Cabrillo Festival, in 2005, Rei worked very closely with Marin Alsop, the Festival’s Music Director, as her cover conductor, and led the world premiere of Rafael Hernandez’s Unfadeable.
Rei is the proud recipient of several prestigious awards, including the 2006 Taki Concordia Conducting Fellowship, created by Marin Alsop to mentor women conductors. Additionally, she has received a Peabody Career Development Grant, the Women’s Philharmonic Scholarship, and an Illinois Arts Council International Arts Exchange Grant.
Rei studied conducting with Gustav Meier at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in piano performance from the University of Southern California, and a Bachelor of Music in piano performance from the Eastman School of Music.