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Hailed as a conductor who leads with “passionate intensity” and recognized as “one to watch,” Roger Kalia is one of America’s most exciting young conductors. A three-time recipient (2018, 2017, 2013) of The Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award, Kalia is currently in his first season as Music Director of Orchestra Santa Monica. Kalia was recently promoted to the position of Associate Conductor of Pacific Symphony after serving as its Assistant Conductor for three seasons. He will also continue his role as Music Director of the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra. Kalia also serves as Co-Founder and Music Director of the Lake George Music Festival in upstate New York, which was recently featured in the League of American Orchestra’s Symphony Magazine as one of the premier summer classical music festivals in the country.
Upcoming and recent engagements include the Szczecin Philharmonic (Poland), Wheeling Symphony, Spokane Symphony, Savannah Philharmonic, Evansville Philharmonic, Symphony New Hampshire, Lima Symphony Orchestra, Long Beach Symphony, Bakersfield Symphony, Camarada Chamber Orchestra, Great Falls Symphony, Owensboro Symphony, Boise Philharmonic, and Adrian Symphony, as well as the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center and Chicago Sinfonietta at Symphony Hall. He has also served as cover conductor for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Diego Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Kansas City Symphony and Indianapolis Symphony. Kalia has worked in various capacities with the New York Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Utah Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony, Danish National Symphony, Winnipeg Symphony and Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
Kalia has collaborated with a wide range of artists including Glenn Dicterow, David Kim, Nikki and Timothy Chooi, Randy Newman, Shayna Steele, Lisa Pegher, the B-52s, PROJECT Trio, Jack Black, Fei-Fei Dong, and Misha Dichter. He conducted the Memphis Symphony in 2011 after winning Second Prize in their International Conducting Competition, which led to his debut the following season and launched his professional career. At the start of his career, he held conducting positions with the Charlotte Symphony, the Young Musicians Foundation (YMF) Debut Orchestra and the Columbus (IN) Symphony Orchestra.
Described as the region’s 21st-century “cultural renaissance” by Art in the Adirondacks and as a festival that “has a limitless horizon” by the Glens Falls Chronicle, Kalia serves as Co-Founder and Music Director of the Lake George Music Festival, whose distinguished musicians come from many of the finest orchestras and conservatories around the world. Through its unique and innovative artistic collaborations and outreach, the festival was recently voted as the Best Annual Event by the City of Lake George, which has resulted in grants from the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) and the New York State Council on the Arts. In 2016, Kalia created a groundbreaking series called Sounds of Our Time, which highlights the connections between the popular music of our time and orchestral music through an innovative concert format featuring visuals, audience engagement, and multimedia. The series has focused on a wide range of music by having the Festival Orchestra collaborate with EDM artists like MAKO and Balún as well as the genre-bending group PROJECT Trio. This series has gained national publicity by being featured in the League of American Orchestras The Hub, Broadway World, EDMjoy, the Albany Times Union, and Saratoga Living. The Festival Orchestra has been broadcasted on a variety of national radio programs including National Public Radio’s (NPR) Performance Today with Fred Child, WQXR-NY, and Classic FM.
Kalia started his career as Music Director of the YMF Debut Orchestra of Los Angeles (2012-2015), following in the footsteps of such conductors as Michael Tilson Thomas and Andre Previn. Kalia led the orchestra in a variety of repertoire from Mozart through music by acclaimed video game and film composers. Highlights of his tenure included four world premieres, collaborations with violinist Glenn Dicterow and pianist Misha Dichter at UCLA’s Royce Hall, a production of Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat with actors Jack Black and Michael Lerner at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Los Angeles premiere of Michael Giacchino’s Star Trek Into Darkness, a Gala concert featuring Randy Newman at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, and a collaboration with the Angel City Chorale of Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in celebration of Shakespeare’s 450th anniversary. In addition, Kalia led the Debut Orchestra in the orchestra’s first-ever performance at the Our Lady of Angels Cathedral (the largest church in Los Angeles) in December 2012 for the Virgin of Guadalupe Festival with more than 2,000 people in attendance as well as being live-streamed worldwide.
Passionate about teaching the next generation of musicians, Kalia maintains a regular teaching relationship with The Colburn School, USC’s Thornton School of Music, and California State University at Fullerton. Kalia has worked with youth orchestras across the country, including the 2018 Missouri All-State Symphony Orchestra. As an educator, Kalia has created family and educational concerts for orchestras across the country in a variety of concert formats including the use of multimedia, semi-staged operas, and collaborations with groups such as Cirque de la Symphony, Orange County’s Festival Ballet Theater, speed painter Dan Dunn, the Magic Circle Mime Co., Really Inventive Stuff, and TV personality Randy Jackson. In January 2018, Kalia was instrumental in creating Come Together, a side-by-side concert with the Camarada Chamber Orchestra that paired community musicians with professional musicians from across the southern California region.
A passionate advocate of modern music, Kalia has commissioned and programmed more than 100 works by some of America’s most innovative living composers including Paul Dooley, Brendan Faegre, Narong Prangcharoen, Sarah Snider, Paul Dooley, Sheridan Seyfried, Steven Snowden, Siamak Aghaei, Paul Chihara, and Chris Rogerson, among others. Kalia also conducted the Orange County premiere of Austin Wintory’s Journey Suite with the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra, the first-ever video game score to be nominated for a Grammy.
Kalia has held fellowships with the Chicago Sinfonietta as part of their Project Inclusion program, the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival with Robert Spano, the Conductors Guild Conductor/Composer Training Workshop at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music with Marin Alsop, the David Zinman International Conducting Masterclass with the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, and the Kurt Masur Conducting Seminar at the Manhattan School of Music. He holds degrees from Indiana University, the University of Houston and SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music. At Indiana University, Kalia served as an Associate Instructor and Assistant Conductor of the IU Opera Theater and New Music Ensemble. His primary mentors include David Effron, Arthur Fagen, and Franz Anton Krager.
Born and raised in New York, Kalia resides in Southern California with his wife, musicologist/violinist Christine Wisch, and their dog Burney.