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Roger Kalia

Assistant Conductor for Pacific Symphony
Music Director of Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra

Roger Kalia

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 recipient of a 2013 and 2017 Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award, Kalia is currently the assistant conductor of Pacific Symphony and the music director of Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra. He began his tenure in 2015, and was recently awarded a two-year contract extension, becoming only the second assistant conductor in Pacific Symphony's history to receive this honor. Kalia also serves as co-founder and music director of the Lake George Music Festival in upstate New York, the premier musical arts festival in the region.  Previously, he served for two seasons as assistant conductor of the Charlotte Symphony, where he conducted the orchestra in a variety of performances and invigorated the orchestra’s engagement with the community. Kalia has also held music director positions with both the Young Musicians Foundation (YMF) Debut Orchestra and Columbus (IN) Symphony Orchestra, the oldest orchestra in the state and only its fourth music director. Kalia recently led the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra on a highly successful tour of China, which marked the orchestra’s second international tour and its first to Asia.

In addition to his current positions, Kalia is in consistent demand as a guest conductor. In the 2017-2018 season, he makes his European subscription debut with the Szczecin Philharmonic in Poland, and will conduct the Bakersfield Symphony in their annual Gala concert. Further recent and upcoming guest conducting engagements include appearances with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, Chicago Sinfonietta at Symphony Hall, Long Beach Symphony, Great Falls Symphony, Owensboro Symphony, Boise Philharmonic, Adrian Symphony, and the 2018 Missouri All-State Orchestra. 

Kalia has collaborated with a variety of artists such as David Kim, Randy Newman, the B-52s, Dan Dunn, Fei-Fei Dong, and Cirque de la Symphony, and has served as cover conductor for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, St. Louis 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, and Royal Scottish National Orchestra, among others. 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.   

As co-founder and music director of the Lake George Music Festival, Kalia conducts the Lake George Festival Orchestra and chamber ensembles every August, whose distinguished musicians come from many of North America's finest orchestras and conservatories. Through its unique and innovative artistic collaborations and outreach, the festival recently received its first-ever grant from the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA). In 2017, Kalia created a new and innovative concert series called Sounds of Our Time, which highlights the connections between the popular music of our time and orchestral music. For its debut concert, the series focused on electronic music, specifically electronic dance music (EDM), with the Festival Symphony Orchestra collaborating with the EDM-indie group and Billboard artist, MAKO, in a performance of original compositions, one of the first collaborations of its kind.  The collaboration 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 also been featured on a variety of recognized classical radio programs including American Public Media’s Performance Today with Fred Child and WQXR-NY. 

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 at the orchestra’s 60th Anniversary Gala Concert, 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 to being a two-time recipient of a Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award, Kalia also received a 2010 fellowship to the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival, where he worked with Robert Spano. He was also a fellow at the 2011 Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, chosen by Marin Alsop. That same year David Zinman invited him to conduct the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in his international conducting masterclass at the Zurich Festspiele. In 2013 Kalia worked with Kurt Masur at his annual Conducting Seminar at the Manhattan School of Music.  Passionate about teaching the next generation of musicians, Kalia maintains a regular teaching relationship with the Colburn School and Cal State Fullerton, and has been invited as a guest speaker at the Irvine Music Festival, Mt. San Antonio College and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. 

Kalia has also commissioned and programmed more than 100 works by some of America’s brightest and innovative composers including Mason Bates, David Lang, Chris Rogerson, Harry Stafylakis, Michael Daugherty, Francisco Cortes and Paul Chihara, among others.  With the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra, Kalia has expanded the orchestra’s programming by including a number of contemporary works. He led the world premiere of Narong Prangcharoen’s Lighter than Air, which was a featured work on the orchestra’s 2017 China Tour.  Kalia will also conduct the world premiere of Brendan Faegre’s Analog Intelligence and Austin Wintory’s Journey Suite (the first-ever Grammy-nominated video game score) during the upcoming season. In 2014, Kalia commissioned Paul Dooley’s Coast of Dreams with the YMF Debut Orchestra, which was featured on American Public Media’s Performance Today with Fred Child, and resulted in a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA). 

A native of New York, Kalia received his Doctorate from Indiana University, where he served as an Associate Instructor and Assistant Conductor of the IU Opera Theater and New Music Ensemble.  He also holds degrees from the University of Houston and SUNY Potsdam's Crane School of Music.  His primary mentors include David Effron, Arthur Fagen, and Franz Anton Krager.