Meet the Carmel Symphony Orchestra’s Music Leadership

Maestro David Commanday, Music Director, Carmel Symphony Orchestra

Maestro David Commanday

Conductor David Commanday’s career has brought him renown on three continents, and spans the fields of concert hall, stage, university, and youth orchestra. He is known for a vital connection with musicians and audience; his performances are praised for compelling immediacy, with depth in the classics and sparkle in pops.

“Clearly, Commanday isn’t satisfied with a business-as-usual concert; he’s trying to open up the ears of his listeners, to stir them, lead them. His feeling for and excitement about the music he conducts is palpable and contagious. “ (Peoria Journal Star)

He is the founding Artistic Director/Conductor of the Heartland Festival Orchestra, an innovative ensemble now in its 15th season. The HFO and Commanday were recognized as Professional Orchestra and Conductor of the Year by the Illinois Council of Orchestras.  Commanday’s additional activities include Director of Orchestral Activities and Instructor of Cello at Eastern Illinois University and Music Director of Youth Music Illinois.

Maestro Commanday was Music Director of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra for a decade in which the PSO rose to be recognized as an orchestra of regional distinction, doubled its endowment, and featured world-class guest artists including Yo-Yo Ma, Dame Evelyn Glennie, Hilary Hahn, Bobby McFerrin, Joshua Bell, Sharon Isbin, Emanuel Ax, and Itzhak Perlman.

David Commanday’s career began with his appointment as Music Director of the Boston Ballet. He toured with Boston and Rudolf Nureyev across Europe, the U.S., and Mexico, conducting Swan Lake, Giselle, and Don Quixote. Subsequent positions include Assistant Conductor of the San Diego Symphony and Associate Conductor of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

His guest engagements with professional orchestras have spanned the globe. Abroad, Maestro Commanday has appeared with the Singapore National Youth Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, Belgian Radio Orchestra, and Pro Arte Orchestra of Vienna. At home, he has guest-conducted the National Symphony, American Symphony, Flagstaff Symphony, North Carolina Philharmonic, Eastern Connecticut Symphony, Las Vegas Philharmonic, Louisville Orchestra, the Seattle Symphony, and Atlanta Symphony.  A sought-after ballet conductor, he has worked with the Joffrey Ballet, Ballet West, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and the ballet companies of Richmond, Sacramento, Washington, Peoria, Kansas City, and Orlando.

As Music Director of the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras, Commanday brought the BYSO to national recognition, earning three ASCAP awards for programming and leading four international tours. Commanday and the BYSO commissioned and performed the world premiere of the Double Concerto by Ivan Tcherepnin, with soloists Lynn Chang and Yo-Yo Ma. The performance earned the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for the composition and its composer. 

An invitation from the Singapore Ministry of Education to consult on youth orchestra management resulted in four trips to the Asian nation. There Commanday gave chamber music and cello master classes, adjudicated the annual Singapore National Youth Festival, and conducted the SNYO in the premiere Esplanade concert series.  He has held faculty positions at Harvard University, Boston University, MIT, Virginia Commonwealth University, Montclair State University, and Eureka College.

Commanday graduated Harvard University cum laude, with studies in psychology, music and languages. He played principal cello at Tanglewood under the direction of Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa, and Aaron Copland, and their influence led him toward conducting. He trained at the University of Vienna guided by Otmar Suitner, General Musikdirektor of the Berlin Staatsoper, and was awarded the Austrian Staatsdiplom in orchestral conducting with highest distinction. His language skills include fluency in English, German, and French, and he is conversant with Italian, Swedish, and Russian. David is married to Karla Commanday-Mirosav. They have three grown children, and live with award-winning CH Scottish Terriers. 


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