Artistic Leadership

Brett Mitchell, Music Director Designate

Hailed for delivering compelling performances of innovative, eclectic programs, Brett Mitchell has been named the fourth Music Director of the Colorado Symphony, beginning in the 2017/18 season. Prior to this four-year appointment, he will serve as Music Director Designate during the 2016/17 season.

Mr. Mitchell is also currently the Associate Conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra. He joined the orchestra as Assistant Conductor in 2013, and was promoted to his current position in 2015, becoming the orchestra’s first Associate Conductor in over three decades and only the fifth in its 98-year history. In this role, he leads the orchestra in several dozen concerts each season at Severance Hall, Blossom Music Center, and on tour. Mr. Mitchell also serves as the Music Director of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, which he recently led on a four-city tour of China, marking the ensemble's second international tour and its first to Asia.

In addition to these titled positions, Brett Mitchell is in consistent demand as a guest conductor. Recent and upcoming guest engagements include the orchestras of Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Oregon, Rochester, Saint Paul, and Washington (National Symphony Orchestra), among others. He has collaborated with such soloists as Rudolf Buchbinder, James Ehnes, Leila Josefowicz, and Alisa Weilerstein, and has served as cover conductor and musical assistant at The Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, London Philharmonic Orchestra, and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra.

From 2007 to 2011, Brett Mitchell led over one hundred performances as Assistant Conductor of the Houston Symphony, to which he frequently returns as a guest conductor. He also held Assistant Conductor posts with the Orchestre National de France, where he worked under Kurt Masur from 2006 to 2009, and the Castleton Festival, where he worked under Lorin Maazel in 2009 and 2010. In 2015, Mr. Mitchell completed a highly successful five-year tenure as Music Director of the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra, where an increased focus on locally relevant programming and community collaborations resulted in record attendance throughout his tenure.

As an opera conductor, Brett Mitchell has served as music director of nearly a dozen productions, principally at his former post as Music Director of the Moores Opera Center in Houston, where he led eight productions from 2010 to 2013. His repertoire spans the core works of Mozart (The Marriage of Figaro and The Magic Flute), Verdi (Rigoletto and Falstaff), and Stravinsky (The Rake's Progress) to contemporary works by Adamo (Little Women), Aldridge (Elmer Gantry), Catán (Il Postino and Salsipuedes), and Hagen (Amelia). As a ballet conductor, Mr. Mitchell will next lead a production of The Nutcracker with the Pennsylvania Ballet in collaboration with The Cleveland Orchestra during the 2016/17 season.

Born in Seattle in 1979, Brett Mitchell holds degrees in conducting from the University of Texas at Austin and composition from Western Washington University, which selected him in as its Young Alumnus of the Year in 2014. He also studied at the National Conducting Institute, and was selected by Kurt Masur as a recipient of the inaugural American Friends of the Mendelssohn Foundation Scholarship. Mr. Mitchell was also one of five recipients of the League of American Orchestras’ American Conducting Fellowship from 2007 to 2010.

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Andrew Litton, Principal Guest Conductor

Andrew Litton currently serves as Principal Guest Conductor of the Colorado Symphony, Artistic Advisor of Norway’s Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Music Director of the New York City Ballet, Artistic Director of the Minnesota Orchestra’s Sommerfest, and Conductor Laureate of Britain’s Bournemouth Symphony. He was also Music Director of the Dallas Symphony from 1994-2006. He guest conducts the world’s leading orchestras and has a discography of over 120 recordings with awards including America’s Grammy®, France’s Diapason d’Or, and many British and other honours. Litton has also conducted many of the world’s finest opera companies, such as the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera Covent Garden, Deutsche Oper Berlin and the Australian Opera. 

In 2011, in recognition of his work with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, King Harald V conferred the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit on Andrew Litton. Under him the orchestra has made appearances at the BBC Proms, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Vienna’s Musikverein, Berlin’s Philharmonie and New York’s Carnegie Hall. 

Besides his Grammy®-winning Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast with Bryn Terfel and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, he also recorded the complete symphonies by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, a Dallas Mahler cycle, and many Gershwin recordings, as both conductor and pianist. For Hyperion Andrew Litton’s recordings include piano concertos by Rachmaninoff, Liszt and Grieg with Stephen Hough; by Shostakovich, Shchedrin and Brahms with Marc-André Hamelin; and by Alnæs and Sinding with Piers Lane; Prokofiev’s Cello Concerto and Symphony-Concerto with Alban Gerhardt; Viola Concertos by Bartók and Rózsa with Lawrence Power; the complete symphonies by Charles Ives and orchestral works by Joseph Schwantner.

Andrew Litton received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Juilliard in piano and conducting. He is an accomplished pianist, and often conducts from the keyboard and enjoys performing chamber music with his orchestra colleagues. 

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Marin Alsop, Conductor Laureate

Marin Alsop

Hailed as one of the world’s leading conductors for her artistic vision and commitment to accessibility in classical music, Marin Alsop made history with her appointment as the 12th music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, mirroring her ongoing success as principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony since 2002. She continues her association with the Colorado Symphony as conductor laureate following her highly successful 12-year tenure as music director. She also continues in her 17th season as music director of the acclaimed Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in California. In addition, Alsop has held the position of principal guest conductor with both the City of London Sinfonia and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, with whom she made numerous critically acclaimed recordings. In 2005, Alsop was named a MacArthur Fellow, the first and only conductor ever to receive this prestigious American award. In the same year, Alsop won the Classical Brit Award for Best Female Artist, and she is the first artist to win Gramophone’s “Artist of the Year” award and the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Conductor’s Award in the same season (2003). Most recently, she was honored with a 2007 European Women of Achievement Award, presented to individuals whose vision, courage and determination have made a major impact on increasing the influence of women on European affairs.

Alsop is a regular guest conductor with the New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic. She is also one of the few conductors to appear every season with both the London Symphony and the London Philharmonic orchestras and has appeared as a guest conductor with many other distinguished orchestras worldwide, including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Zurich Tonhalle, Orchestre de Paris, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Boston Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony and Tokyo Philharmonic. She made her debut with the Opera Theater of St. Louis conducting John Adams’s Nixon and in 2004 she conducted a fully staged production of Bernstein’s Candide with the New York Philharmonic, a production that was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2005. Highlights of Alsop’s acclaimed recording collaboration with Naxos include a Brahms symphony cycle with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and an ongoing series of Bournemouth Symphony recordings, which include Bartók’s Miraculous Mandarin, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, and the symphonies of Kurt Weill.

Duain Wolfe, Chorus Director

Duain Wolfe

Recently awarded two Grammys® for Best Choral Performance and Best Classical Recording, Duain Wolfe is founder and director of the Colorado Symphony Chorus and music director of the Chicago Symphony Chorus. This year marks Wolfe’s 30th season with the Colorado Symphony Chorus. The Chorus has been featured at the Aspen Music Festival for over two decades. Wolfe, who is in his 21st season with the Chicago Symphony Chorus has collaborated with Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Bernard Haitink, Riccardo Muti, and the late Sir George Solti on numerous recordings including Wagner’s Die Meistersinger, which won the 1998 Grammy® for Best Opera Recording. Wolfe’s extensive musical accomplishments have resulted in numerous awards, including an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from the University of Denver, the Bonfils Stanton Award in the Arts and Humanities, the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Mayor’s Award for Excellence in an Artistic Discipline and the Michael Korn Award for the Development of the Professional Choral Art. Wolfe is also founder of the Colorado Children’s Chorale, from which he retired in 1999 after 25 years; the Chorale is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. For 20 years, Wolfe also worked with the Central City Opera Festival as chorus director and conductor, founding and directing the company’s young artist residence program, as well as its education and outreach programs. Wolfe’s additional accomplishments include directing and preparing choruses for Chicago’s Ravinia Festival, the Bravo!Vail Festival, the Berkshire Choral Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, and the Grand Teton Music Festival. He has worked with Pinchas Zuckerman as Chorus Director for the Canadian National Arts Centre Orchestra for the past 13 years.

Christopher Dragon, Associate Conductor

Australian conductor Christopher Dragon is being his second season as the Associate Conductor of the Colorado Symphony and commences his position as Principal Guest Conductor with the Denver Young Artists Orchestra. For three years Chris previously held the position of Assistant Conductor with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, which gave him the opportunity to work closely with Principal Conductor Asher Fisch.

Christopher works regularly in Australia and has conducted the Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and West Australian Symphony Orchestra’s. His 2015 debut performance at the Sydney Opera House with Josh Pyke and the Sydney Symphony has been released on cd by ABC Music. In 2017 Christopher returns to the West Australian Symphony Orchestra for a subscription concert. In 2016 he also made his Brazilian conducting debut with the Orquestra Sinfônica de Porto Alegre.

He has also conducted at numerous festivals including the Breckenridge and Bangalow Music Festival’s, with both resulting in immediate re-invitations. At the beginning of 2016 Christopher conducted Wynton Marsalis’ Swing Symphony as part of the Perth International Arts Festival alongside Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchestra.

In 2014 from 100 international applicants, Chris was invited to conduct the Princess Galyani Vadhana Youth Orchestra in Thailand and earlier that year participated in the Jarvi Winter Academy in Estonia where he was awarded the Orchestra’s Favourite Conductor Prize.

Christopher began his conducting studies in 2011 and was a member of the prestigious Symphony Services International Conductor Development Program under the guidance of course director Christopher Seaman. He has also studied with numerous distinguished conductors including Leonid Grin, Paavo and Neeme Jarvi at the Jarvi Summer Festival, Fabio Luisi at the Pacific Music Festival and conducting pedagogue Jorma Panula.

Andres Lopera, Assistant Conductor

Colombian Conductor Andres Lopera is one of the leading Latin-American artists in the United States with nearly a decade of engagements in both North and South America. A passionate conductor who believes in the transformational power of music, Mr. Lopera has directed the Oregon Symphony, Toledo Symphony, New World Symphony, National Repertory Orchestra, and Portland Columbia Symphony Orchestra just in the past three seasons. He has also appeared with professional and youth orchestras in throughout Central and South America, including EAFIT Symphony Orchestra in Medellin- Colombia, Orchestral groups in Brazil, Uruguay and Honduras, where he led the Youth Orchestra of the Americas in a musical camp for both young and professional musicians.

In 2012, Mr. Lopera was appointed as Music Director of the Metropolitan Youth Symphony, for which he oversees six orchestras, three wind ensembles, and three jazz ensembles with more than 460 students.  An active advocate for the value of this experience for young musicians, he has inspired a renaissance of this 41-year organization with his high artistic standards and engagement with the community.  “His direction of the Tchaikovsky was full of intensity and passion from the opening measures, with driving tempos and muscular bowings creating and improbably rich, intense sound from such a young ensemble” says James McQuillen of The Oregonian. In recognition of his contributions to Portland, Mr. Lopera was awarded the Portland Monthly, Rising Star Award and the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber Bravo Award.

Also an accomplished trombonist, Mr. Lopera’s musical development started with the Red de Bandas de Antioquia and Red de Escuelas de Musica de Medellin, both El Sistema like programs developed in Colombia.  In keeping with the philosophy of these organizations, he later worked with them as a conductor.

Mr. Lopera earned a Master’s of Music degree in Orchestral Conducting from New England Conservatory and in Trombone Performance from the University of Texas at Austin.  Prior to these programs, he was awarded a double degree in Conducting and Trombone from the Universidad EAFIT in Medellin, Colombia. His principal teachers and mentors have included conductors such as Hugh Wolff, David Loebel, Carlos Kalmar, Ludovic Morlot and Carlos Miguel Prieto.