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Rei Hotoda, Conductor, Fresno Philharmonic, Woman Conductor, Female Conductor, Classical Music

Rei Hotoda, conductor

Conductor Rei Hotoda has been hailed as an inexhaustible dynamo with a deep commitment to reimagining the 21st century concert experience. Her vision can be seen through her thought-provoking programming, passionate allyship to marginalized artists, advocacy for arts education, and an unwavering commitment to presenting many of today’s leading composers alongside masterworks of the classical repertoire.

 

Rei’s critically acclaimed versatility solidifies her standing as one of the most sought-after conductors of her generation. Her interpretations of epic centerpieces of the classical canon such as Mahler’s Symphony No. 5, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 8, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, and Damien Geter’s A Justice Symphony, showcase her artistic range. She has guest conducted several prestigious ensembles, including the symphony orchestras of Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, Detroit, Toronto, Louisville, Winnipeg, and Utah as well as the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and the American Composers Orchestra, among others. A tireless advocate for the music of our time, Rei most recently led the premieres of works by Derek Bermel, Juan Pablo Contreras, Kevin Day, Dinuk Wijeratne, John Wineglass, and Cynthia Lee Wong.

 

As a champion of today’s living composers and an artist that is dedicated to amplifying marginalized voices, Rei’s innovative programming and interdisciplinary collaborations continue to position her as a leader in the industry. Across nearly every concert in 2023/24, Rei has made it her mission to program works by Black, indigenous, or women composers, including her debuts with the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Greensboro Symphony Orchestra, the London Symphonia in Canada, and the Kansas City Symphony.

 

For her long-awaited Carnegie Hall debut, Rei led the American Composer’s Orchestra (ACO) in an exciting program that was an an integral part of the Hall’s citywide festival, Fall of the Weimar Republic: Dancing on the Precipice. She conducted the orchestra in two world premieres, Right Now for Mezzo-Soprano and Orchestra, by John Glover featuring Chrystal E. Williams as soloist, and Her Land, Expanded, a Carnegie Hall co-commission by Tonia Ko. She also led the ensemble in the New York premiere of Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate's "Clans" from his Lowak Shoppala. She began the program from the keyboard, leading the ACO in George Antheil's A Jazz Symphony.

 

Also in 23/24, Rei made her debut with the Kansas City Symphony leading a performance of Gabriela Lena Frank’s Escaramuza and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Joyce Yang as soloist. Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9 was also on the program. In Canada she made her debut appearance with the London Symphonia pairing Louise Farrenc’s Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 35 with Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 11 with Janina Fialkowska as soloist. A program highlighting two women compositional powerhouses, Jessie Montgomery (Starburst) and Joan Tower (Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman No 1), alongside Poulenc’s Gloria and Gershwin’s American in Paris, punctuated her debut with the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra.

 

As the current music director of the Fresno Philharmonic, in 2023/24 Rei continued to lead programs and design a season that reflects the rich diversity of the community while highlighting the stellar artistry of the musicians in the ensemble. This season, Rei and the FPO explored and celebrated the remarkable two-way street between Jazz and western classical music, entitled “Jazzing it Up”.

 

In September they kicked off the season with a program featuring Rei playing/conducting Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos, with fellow pianist William Eddins, paired with Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 and Valerie Colemans 2019 composition, UMOJA Anthem of Unity for Orchestra. The season's theme continued with a performance of Anna Clyne's DANCE and George Antheil’s A Jazz Symphony juxtaposed with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. This special program was also included in the inaugural California Festival—a two-week statewide celebration of new music. Next they presented Guillaume Connesson’s A Kind of Trane Concerto with saxophonist Timothy McAllister paired with Brahms’ Symphony No. 3.  2023/24 ends with a blockbuster program featuring Gershwin’s American and Paris and Ravel’s Bolero offset by a performance of Barber’s Piano Concerto with the incomparable Joyce Yang at the keyboard. Additionally, Rei’s ever popular, multi season Fresno Philharmonic series “Mahler Here and Now” continued with the composer’s epic Symphony No. 4 with Jasmine Habersham as soprano soloist coupled with Gabriela Lena Frank’s Contested Eden.

 

As an active and critically acclaimed keyboardist, Rei embraces her time conducting from the piano and harpsichord. In 2023/24, in addition to her performances leading ensembles such as the the Fresno Philharmonic (Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos) and the American Composers Orchestra (George Antheil's A Jazz Symphony) from the keyboard, she also performed Jessie Montgomery’s Rounds for Piano and String Orchestra as soloist with the Kamuela Philharmonic.

Rei’s 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 tabla master Sandeep Das; pipa player Wu Man; violinists Jennifer Koh and Chee Yun; pianists Laura Downes, Awadagin Pratt, Orion Weiss, and Joyce Yang; guitarist Pablo Villegas; ensembles such as Time for Three, Indigo Girls, Steep Canyon Rangers and Pink Martini; singers Damien Geter, Jessica Rivera, Idina Menzel, Michael Feinstein and Ben Folds, among many others.

 

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.

 

Rei is the proud recipient of several prestigious awards, including the 2006 Taki-Alsop 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. In 2023, she will receive the Fresno Arts Council Horizon Award in celebration of her contributions to the arts in the Fresno community. Her teachers and mentors include Gustav Meier, Marin Alsop, Jaap van Zweden and Thierry Fischer.

 

**Rei’s bio was most recently updated in April of 2024 and must be used in its entirety unless express permission is received from her representatives.**

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