Markand Thakar is Music Director of the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra. Former
posts include Music Director of the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestras as well as Principal Conductor of the Duluth Festival Opera. He 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 the Baltimore Sun, which praises his "novel programming concepts" for the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, and "one of the most successful examples of thematic programming heard around here in some time.”
With the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, Markand 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, named to Naxos' “Best of the Best” list. In December of 2009 the BCO traveled to China to perform a series of Viennese New Year's concerts, and returned in 2010.
A former Assistant Conductor of the New York Philharmonic, his appearances include concerts and a national radio broadcast with that orchestra; as well as concerts with the National, Louisiana, San Antonio, Columbus, Alabama, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Charlotte, Wichita, Amarillo, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Richmond, Colorado Springs, Greensboro, Illinois, Kalamazoo, Windsor, Flint, Maryland, Ann Arbor, Waterbury, Annapolis, and Florida West Coast symphony orchestras; the Calgary, Long Island, and Ulsan (South Korea) philharmonics; and the Boston Pro Arte, National and Cleveland chamber orchestras; and opera productions with the Baltimore Opera Theater, the Teatro Lirico d'Europa, Opera on the James, and the Duluth Festival Opera. He has guest conducted at the Aspen Music Festival and has appeared with Yo-Yo Ma and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and with Itzhak Perlman and the Boulder Philharmonic, and is a winner of the 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 the Colorado Symphony.
Formerly Associate Conductor of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and conductor of the Eugene Symphony's “NightMusic” pops series, Mr. Thakar was music director and conductor of the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra in New York City, the Barnard-Columbia Philharmonia, the Classical Symphony of Cincinnati, the Penn's Woods Philharmonia, and the National Festival Orchestra of the Great Lakes Festival of Musical Arts.
Markand 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, and a doctorate in orchestral conducting from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory and he undertook special studies in orchestral conducting at the Curtis Institute and the 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.”
Markand Thakar, who writes the entertaining monthly “Maestro's Musings” column in Duluth Superior Magazine, is the author two seminal books. Counterpoint: Fundamentals of Music Making (published in English by Yale University Press and in Italian by Rugginenti Editore) uses species counterpoint to promote an understanding of how both composer and performer contribute to this experience of musical beauty. And, described as a musical “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” Looking for the “Harp” Quartet; An Investigation of Musical Beauty (University of Rochester Press, 2011) is a comprehensive romp through the experience of musical beauty from the standpoint of the composer, performer and listener. Thakar is Co-Director of Graduate Conducting at the Peabody Conservatory with Gustav Meier, and lives in Baltimore with his wife, violist Victoria Chiang, and their son Oliver.