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

Rei Hotoda, conductor

Hailed by the Spokesman-Review as being an “inexhaustible dynamo,” Rei Hotoda, now in her third season as Music Director of the Fresno Philharmonic, has appeared as a guest conductor with many of today’s leading ensembles, including the Symphony Orchestras of Baltimore, Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, Detroit, Toronto, Utah, Hawaii, Winnipeg, and Spokane as well as the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, among others. Her interpretations of such epic centerpieces of the classical canon such as Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 8 and Britten’s War Requiem, make her one of the most sought-after conductors of today. She is a tireless advocate for the music of our time, and most recently conducted the world premiere of Dinuk Wijeratne’s Between Figure and Ground to much acclaim.


Rei is equally at home leading the orchestra from the piano as well as from the podium. As an accomplished pianist, 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. One of her many highlights of the 2019/20 season, was conducting the Fresno Philharmonic, where she currently serves as Music Director, from the piano for the first time in Beethoven’s monumental Triple Concerto as part of the orchestra’s Beethoven@250 celebrations.


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 Angelo Yu; pianists Natasha Paremski, Orion Weiss, Joyce Yang and Jon Nakamatsu; clarinetist David Shifrin; cellist Johannes Moser; guitarist Pablo Villegas; sopranos Jessica Rivera and Celena Shafer; tenor Vale Rideout; baritone Christòpheren Nomura; ensembles such as Time for Three, Steep Canyon Rangers and Pink Martini; singers Idina Menzel, Michael Feinstein and Ben Folds, among many others. This season, she will collaborate with several notable guest artists, including pianists Cecile Licad (Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 2) and Barry Douglas (Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2); violinists Rimma Bergeron-Langlois (Barber’s Violin Concerto) and Chee-Yun (Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto), and trumpet player John Hagstrom (Arutunian’s Trumpet Concerto).


A consummate advocate of new music, Rei has conducted premieres of works by such notable composers as Dinuk Wijeratne, 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 Missy Mazzoli. 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, and Vincent Ho. Most recently, she led the world premiere of a new opera composed by Gene Coleman, entitled Dreamlives of Debris in Chicago, and Dinuk Wijeratne’s Between Figure and Ground in Fresno. Additionally, she was instrumental in the creation of a new music chamber series featuring musicians of the Fresno Philharmonic, entitled Proxima, which was received with much audience acclaim. Works by Vivian Fung (Earworms), Adolphus Hailstork (An American Port of Call), and Gabriela Lena Frank (Escaramuza) punctuate her 2019/20 season.


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 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. Her teachers and mentors include

Gustav Meier, Marin Alsop, Jaap van Zweden and Thierry Fischer.