“St. Clair has a special gift for complicated, daunting music. He can negotiate the impenetrable thickets of a George Crumb score or some other atonal Rubrik's Cube with gusto and ease, and he has a knack for making difficult things understandable ... St. Clair mastered [all] challenges effortlessly.”
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Music Director of the Pacific Symphony for nearly three decades, Carl St. Clair has become widely recognized for his musically distinguished performances, innovative approaches to programming, and commitment to outstanding educational projects. The largest ensemble formed in the United States during the last fifty years, the Pacific Symphony’s rapid artistic development is due largely to Mr. St. Clair’s leadership. In April 2018, he will lead the Symphony in its Carnegie Hall debut, as the finale to the Hall's yearlong celebration of pre-eminent composer Philip Glass's 80th birthday. The following month, he will lead the Symphony on its first tour to China, the orchestra's first international tour since 2006, when it toured Europe.
Mr. St. Clair was named Music Director of the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Costa Rica in 2014, and the following year celebrated the orchestra's 75th anniversary season by performing concerts throughout the country in all seven provinces. Currently in its 77th season, the orchestra is a well-established regional and national orchestra serving the entire country.
An active guest conductor, Carl St. Clair has led the Boston Symphony (where he served as assistant conductor for several years), Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and the symphonies of Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Montreal, Nashville, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, and Vancouver, to name a few. Worldwide, he has appeared with numerous orchestras in Europe, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, and South America. Highlights of the 2017/2018 season also include engagements with the Hawaii Symphony and the Wuppertal Symphony Orchestra/Germany. Summer festival appearances include Schleswig-Holstein, Pacific (Japan), Round Top (Texas), Breckenridge, Wintergreen (Virginia), Texas Music Festival/Houston, and Tanglewood.
Mr. St. Clair’s commitment to the development and performance of new works by American composers is evident in the wealth of commissions and recordings by the Pacific Symphony. Under his guidance, the orchestra has commissioned works such as Philip Glass’s The Passion of Ramakrishna; William Bolcom’s song cycle, Canciones de Lorca (premiered by Placido Domingo); and Chen Yi’s cello concerto Ballad, Dance and Fantasy composed for cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Many have been subsequently recorded, including Richard Danielpour’s An American Requiem on Reference Recordings and Elliot Goldenthal’s Fire Water Paper: A Vietnam Oratorio on Sony Classical with cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Other recordings include the highly acclaimed CD of later works by Toru Takemitsu for Sony Classical, and works by John Corigliano and Frank Ticheli for Koch Classics. Additional commissioned composers include James Newton Howard, Zhou Long, Tobias Picker, and Christopher Theofanidis.
Carl St. Clair has also been general music director and chief conductor of the German National Theater and Staatskapelle (GNTS) in Weimar, Germany (the first non-European to hold this position). This role gave him the distinction of simultaneously leading one of the newest orchestras in America and one of the oldest in Europe. He has also served as general music director of the Komische Oper in Berlin, and principal guest conductor of the SDR/Stuttgart, where he successfully completed a three-year recording project of the entire Villa-Lobos symphonies. In higher education, he has had a continuing relationship with the USC Thornton School of Music for over 20 years. Since the 2005/2006 season, he has been principal conductor of the USC Thornton orchestras and a faculty lecturer in conducting. In 2012, he took on the expanded role as artistic leader and principal conductor of the USC Thornton orchestras.