Editor’s Note

This story is sponsored by the Ashland Symphony Orchestra.

Michael Repper is a breakout star in the conducting world and will be bringing his talents to the Ashland Symphony Orchestra as its next Conductor and Music Director. 

Repper recently claimed a #1 spot on the Billboard Charts with an album produced with the New York Youth Symphony.

“What I see my role is as a conductor, it’s more than just providing and presenting concerts of the highest artistic caliber,” Repper said. “That’s a baseline, it’s where we try to start. Fundamentally, what we’re trying to do as musicians is bring people together and connect people by using music. My mission, my objective, in my concerts is to energize people towards that goal, to try and bring people together, to try and connect people, to try and make our communities a more diverse and welcoming place.”

Michael Repper

Repper first became interested in conducting at a relatively young age after he was invited on stage to be a conductor at a children’s concert. He was nine. This served as a formative experience for the young musician who began to learn conducting from his violin teacher. 

A few years later he was invited to meet Marin Alsop, one of the most influential American conductors in recent history who would become one of Repper’s mentors.

Repper would go on to get his doctorate in conducting from the Peabody Institute of John Hopkins University and would receive his bachelors and masters from Stanford University. In addition to conducting, Repper is a classically trained pianist, having first begun to play the instrument at four years old.

Additionally, Repper can play the violin, clarinet and trombone. Repper is most comfortable on the piano and violin, having learned the clarinet and trombone to make him a better conductor when working with woodwind and brass musicians. 

Repper is excited to work with the members of the Ashland Symphony Orchestra in the coming years, emphasizing the high levels of musical talent within the organization.

“It’s a jewel of an ensemble,” Repper said. “It’s a fantastic orchestra. They have got a really great story, they say Ashland is the smallest community to support a full size professional symphony orchestra. When you see such great support within a community for a high level performing arts group you know there is excellent culture and tremendous potential for growth.”

Repper shared that one of his goals for the Ashland Symphony Orchestra is to increase its involvement in the community.

“One of the things I’m most excited about with Ashland is that because it’s a small environment, relatively speaking, everybody knows everybody,” Repper said. “So the opportunity to collaborate and know other organizations in town. It’s easier to make those connections because people know people.”

Another one of Repper’s goals for the organization is to diversify the music played by the orchestra. Repper describes himself as a “Big Fan” of the blues and is trying to learn how to play the harmonica and banjo. Repper said that he would like to bring in more music made by American composers.

“I particularly like working with new music. I particularly like working with American music. I particularly like researching and uncovering that which has been covered up,” Repper said citing his love for discovering music by African American composers. Repper believes that it’s important for the future of orchestras that music doesn’t just come from white men and plans on featuring non-white composers in future performances of the Ashland Symphony Orchestra.

As part of the COVID-19 pandemic many orchestral performances were canceled, which had an impact on Repper. Repper said he takes a moment to enjoy every opportunity he has to conduct and doesn’t take these opportunities for granted. He hopes that his love for music and conducting will be felt by the audience saying:

“When people come to the Ashland Symphony this coming year what I want people to leave with is a sense of passion, energy and excitement.”

To learn more about Repper, visit his website: http://www.mikerepper.com/ and to learn more about the exciting, upcoming events at the Ashland Symphony Orchestra, visit: https://www.ashlandsymphony.org/ or call 419-289-5115.

The Life section is supported by Brethren Care Village in Ashland.

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