The University of Memphis Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music’s Director of Orchestral Activities, Harvey Felder, was recently interviewed by Symphony Tacoma as a part of their interactive video series recounting the history and special moments of the organization’s 75-year history.
Felder is Conductor Laureate of the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra (TSO), a position he accepted after having served as its music director and artistic director for twenty years. Under his leadership, the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra realized artistic goals before unimagined and developed into one of the finest professional symphonies in the Northwest. Felder’s artistry, professionalism, and passion helped to craft the TSO into one of the Pacific Northwest’s true artistic treasures.
“I knew by the fourth grade I wanted to be a teacher. I knew by the seventh grade I wanted to be a music teacher”, said Felder in his interview. This speaks to the passion and commitment he has for developing musicians. His ability to communicate sophisticated musical ideas to young people, his public speaking ease and his engaging professional demeanor have made him a valued asset to the School of Music.
He has held teaching positions on the faculties of Eastern Michigan University, Haverford College, Bryn Mawr College, Johns Hopkins University, West Virginia University, the University of Connecticut, and now at the University of Memphis.
“Audiences like his style…a reserved and dignified conductor who knows the score and what he wants to do with it”
– Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel
Felder has served as assistant conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony, Resident conductor of the Saint Louis Symphony, regular guest staff conductor with the Atlanta and Chicago Symphonies, and artistic adviser/conductor of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. Additionally, he has held the post of music director with the Tacoma Symphony (WA), Fox Valley Symphony (WI), Johns Hopkins Symphony (MD), and the Ann Arbor Summer Symphony (MI).
During the 1991 “Carnegie Hall at 100” celebration, Felder was invited to make his Carnegie Hall debut, conducting the American Symphony Orchestra. The success of these performances led to the beginning of an exciting and active guest conducting career. He has appeared as guest conductor with the Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Delaware, Grant Park, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Kansas City, National, New Jersey, North Carolina, Saint Louis, San Antonio, Spokane Symphonies; Dayton, Florida, Rochester, Orange County Philharmonics, as well as the Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra (OH), the Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia, the Missouri Symphony Society, Chicago Sinfonietta, San Francisco Bay Brass, Orquesta Sinfonica del Estado de Mexico, Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Costa Rica, the New Japan Philharmonic, St. Michel City Orchestra of Finland, and the Osaka Telemann Chamber Orchestra. Felder comes with a long list of engagements; but perhaps more telling, he also possesses a long list of reengagements.
Felder has garnered mayoral proclamations, citations of excellence, outstanding citizenship awards, all of which attest to his involvement in the community. As an advocate for arts education, Felder served on the Kennedy Center/Getty Center’s Commission—a nonpartisan body organized to study the role of the arts in educational reform. He has become recognized for his forward-thinking as it relates to the presentation of “Classical” music and his desire to broaden its appeal.
Felder has studied conducting with Elizabeth Green, H. Robert Reynolds, Zdenek Macal, Kurt Mazur, Gustav Meier, Seiji Ozawa, Gennady Rozdestvensky, Max Rudolf, Gunther Schuller, Michael Tilson Thomas, Otto-Werner Mueller, and David Zinman. He attended the Festival at Sandpoint, the Conductors Guild Summer Institute, and the Tanglewood Music Center. Felder holds degrees in music from The University of Wisconsin-Madison and The University of Michigan.