A conductor whose interests span Baroque performance practice and the championing of new works, Hugh Wolff ‘75—who conducted Harvard’s Bach Society Orchestra as an undergraduate—will discuss his career during a discussion/Q&A moderated by current Bach Society music director Yuga Cohler ’11.
Hugh Wolff has appeared with all the major American orchestras, including those of Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Cleveland. Wolff is much in demand in Europe, where he has conducted the London Symphony, the Philharmonia, the City of Birmingham Symphony, the Orchestre National de France, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Czech Philharmonic, Bavarian and Berlin Radio Orchestras, and Munich Philharmonic. He is a regular guest conductor with orchestras in Japan, Scandinavia, and Australia. He is also a frequent conductor at summer music festivals from Aspen and Tanglewood to Ravinia and Wolf Trap.
Wolff was principal conductor of the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra (1997–2006), and maintains a close relationship with that ensemble. He was principal conductor and then music director of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (1988–2000), with which he recorded twenty discs and toured the United States, Europe, and Japan. Of this partnership, the “New York Times” wrote: “The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Hugh Wolff, has developed an effortlessly polished sound….Wolff shapes his interpretations with impeccable taste.”
Wolff's Boston Symphony Orchestra appearances have included the world premiere of Ned Rorem’s “Swords and Ploughshares” in Symphony Hall. At Tanglewood he conducted Mstislav Rostropovich, who appeared in his cellist guise in concertos by Haydn and Shostakovich.
Wolff has an extensive discography including a complete set of Beethoven symphonies with the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra, music from the Baroque to the present with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, film music of Georges Delerue, and new works of John Adams, John Corigliano, Lukas Foss, John Harbison, Aaron Jay Kernis, Edgar Meyer, Bright Sheng, and Mark-Anthony Turnage. He has collaborated on CD with Mstislav Rostropovich, Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Hilary Hahn, Dawn Upshaw, Jennifer Larmore, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and jazz guitarist John Scofield. Four times nominated for a Grammy Award, Wolff won the 2001 Cannes Classical Award.
In 2008 Hugh Wolff joined the faculty of the New England Conservatory as the Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood Director of Orchestras, and has conducted a large share of NEC's College orchestral concerts for the past two seasons. In fall 2009, as Chair of Orchestral Conducting he began work with students admitted to NEC for an elite training program. In addition to his work at NEC, Wolff has held master classes for conducting students at Juilliard, Yale, and Aspen, and conducted student orchestras at Juilliard, Peabody, Oberlin, the Royal Academy of Music (London), and Cincinnati College-Conservatory.