South Carolina Philharmonic

The Conductor

Morihiko Nakahara has served as music director of the South Carolina Philharmonic since 2008, and is under contract into 2019. The 2014/2015 season also marks his 12th season with the Spokane Symphony Orchestra, first as its associate conductor and now as resident conductor.

Known for his charismatic presence on and off the podium, innovative and audience-friendly programming skills, and thoughtful interpretations of both standard and contemporary repertoire, Nakahara was featured in the League of American Orchestra’s prestigious Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview in March 2005, hosted by the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. Since then, he has developed a close working relationship with the JSO, conducting the orchestra regularly and serving as its associate conductor during the 2007/2008 season. Recent guest conducting engagements have taken Nakahara to the symphonies of Oregon, Charleston, Chattanooga, Lansing, Peoria, and Green Bay, as well as the Chicago Pro Musica. Recipient of the David Effron Conducting Fellowship at the Chautauqua Institution in 1999, he recently returned to guest conduct the Music School Festival Orchestra there.

Equally at home in a wide variety of musical styles and concert formats, Nakahara has collaborated with Chris Botti, Béla Fleck & the Flecktones, Brandi Carlisle, Pink Martini, and Roby Lakatos to name a few. A tireless champion for the music of our times, Nakahara recently led world premieres of Joan Tower’s Red Maple and John Fitz Rogers’ The Passing Sun with the S.C. Philharmonic during its 50th anniversary season. This season Nakahara and the S.C. Phil will collaborate with the genre-bending string quintet Sybarite5 to premiere Dan Visconti’s Beatbox. A passionate believer in audience development and music education for all, Nakahara is a popular clinician, guest conductor, and lecturer at various educational institutions. As a personable ambassador for classical music, he is regularly featured on local media outlets, and speaks about wide ranging topics including arts advocacy, leadership skills, and economic development at local businesses and service organizations.

A native of Kagoshima, Japan, Nakahara holds degrees from Andrews University and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He previously served as music director of the Holland Symphony Orchestra in Michigan and taught at Eastern Washington University and Andrews University. 

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Updated Dec. 2014. Image credit John Powell/Blue Collar Studio