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 the music of our times.
Her success as the Music Director of the Fresno Philharmonic since 2017 has resulted in the extension of her tenure through the 2025 season. She has worked tirelessly to build first-time and unique connections with the Fresno community with an eye toward reaching different audiences with a new music concert series, Proxima, and special concerts at Bitwise South Stadium. She has reimagined the pre- and post-concert experience by creating the ever-popular Green Room and Stay Tuned series. Her programming continues to push through the preconceived notions of the classical concert going experience, offering audiences works by often marginalized composers and today’s leading voices in the field. Through her tireless efforts, she has successfully broken down the barriers that often exist between artist and listener and repositioned the Fresno Philharmonic as a leader in the community it serves.
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. Highlights of her 21/22 season include presentations of works by black, indigenous, Hispanic, and women composers, including Juan Pablo Contreras, Gabriela Lena Frank , Adolphus Hailstork , Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate, George Walker and Jessie Montgomery. The world premieres of John Wineglass’ Alone/Together and Kenneth Froelich’s Melt with the Fresno Philharmonic as well as those by Derek Bermel, Cynthia Lee Wong and Judah Adashi for her debut with ROCO, punctuate her season. For her debut with the Reno Chamber Orchestra she will conduct two seminal American works and marry the worlds of dance and opera when she conducts a reimagining of Copland’s Appalachian Spring featuring contemporary dancers choreographed by Seattle-based choreographer Alexander Ung alongside Bernstein’s opera Trouble in Tahiti. Her Silk Road-inspired program with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic features Aghaei & Jacobsen’s Ascending Bird, Dinuk Wijeratne’s Tabla Concerto with Sandeep Das and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, speaks to Rei’s desire to introduce audiences to world cultures and challenge them to think outside of the Western concert-going model.
Rei is also an active and critically-acclaimed keyboardist and embraces her time conducting from the piano and harpsichord. One of her many recent highlights was leading the Fresno Philharmonic from the piano in Beethoven’s monumental Triple Concerto as part of the orchestra’s Beethoven@250 and from the harpsichord in Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 as part of their Digital Masterworks series. This season she will conduct both the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and the Fresno Philharmonic from the keyboard in Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos in E-flat major.
Rei 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, Winnipeg, Hawaii and Utah 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 premieres of Kevin Day and Dinuk Wijeratne as well as works by seminal composers such as Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate, Jessie Montgomery and Hawaiian composer, Michael-Thomas Foumai to much acclaim.
Rei’s unique abilities to innovate and adapt have been brought to the forefront in recent seasons due to the ongoing pandemic. Through fostering partnerships with organizations outside of the concert hall such as Valley Public and the local NPR radio station, she brought the Fresno Philharmonic to a wider audience. With the staff and musicians of the Fresno Philharmonic she kept the orchestra intimately connected to their patrons through a new YouTube series. She continued her ever-popular Stay Tuned series, producing in-depth digital conversations with composers who were featured on the season. Lastly, through impactful programming she and the orchestra produced a four-concert digital Masterworks series.
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 Orion Weiss, Joyce Yang and Jon Nakamatsu; clarinetist David Shifrin; cellist Johannes Moser; guitarist Pablo Villegas; ensembles such as Time for Three, Indigo Girls, and Pink Martini; singers Idina Menzel, Michael Feinstein and Ben Folds, among many others.
A consummate advocate of new music with long standing relationships with many notable composers, Rei has conducted premieres by John Cage, Gene Coleman, Luc Ferrari, Dai Fujikura, and Salvatore Sciarrino and has championed and recorded compositions by female composers, including Jasmine Barnes, Vivian Fung, Jennifer Higdon, Nadia Boulanger and Missy Mazzoli.
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 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.
**Rei’s bio was most recently updated in August of 2021 and must be used in its entirety unless express permission is received from her representatives.**