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Peter Oundjian

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Peter Oundjian
Professor Adjunct of Music and Orchestral Conducting Yale School of Music
Principal Conductor, Yale Philharmonia Yale School of Music
At YSM Since: 1981
Award(s): Grammy nomination for Best Classical Compendium with the TSO (2018), JUNO Award for Classical Album of the Year: Large Ensemble with the TSO (2018), BBC Music Magazine Award nomination with the RSNO (2018), Conductor Emeritus of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (2018), Yale School of Music’s Samuel Simons Sanford Medal (2013), Honorary Doctorate, San Francisco Conservatory (2009), Viña del Mar International Violin Competition First Prize (1980), Pro Musicis Award (New York, 1980)

Peter Oundjian

Peter Oundjian has been privileged to share his love of music with audiences for over five decades. The 2017-2018 season marked his fourteenth and final season as Music Director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO), which under his direction underwent a transformation that significantly strengthened its presence in the world, with recordings, tours, and acclaimed innovative programming, as well as extensive audience growth. From 2012 to 2018, Oundjian was also Music Director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO), with which he toured multiple countries, recorded albums, and performed at the 2018 BBC Proms. Previously, Oundjian has been Principal Guest Conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Mozart Festival, Artistic Director of the Caramoor International Music Festival, and the Music Director of the Amsterdam Sinfonietta. The 2018-2019 season marked an exciting chapter for Oundjian–along with continuing his role at Yale and conducting 10 great orchestras across the globe, he began his tenure as Music Director of the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder, Colo.

Education has been as much of a passion for Oundjian as any other musical pursuit, as the impact of his own mentors instilled in him a longing to inspire the next generations of musicians. Oundjian became a visiting professor at the Yale School of Music at the age of 25, and has mentored young violinists, conductors, and chamber groups at Yale for 38 years. In 2016, he was appointed Principal Conductor of the Yale Philharmonia, leading the orchestra in engaging performances of works from across the orchestral canon. He also oversees the training of graduate-level orchestral conducting students.

Born in Toronto and raised in Surrey, England, Oundjian grew up performing as a violinist and choral singer, frequently playing concertos, recitals, and chamber music throughout England. He attended the Royal College of Music in London, where he was awarded the Tagore Gold Medal in 1975, presented to him by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. That same year, Oundjian entered the Juilliard School, where he studied with Ivan Galamian, Itzhak Perlman, and Dorothy DeLay. 

In 1981, he became the first violinist of the Tokyo String Quartet. Over the next 14 years, the group performed in every corner of the world and recorded over 35 albums, several of which received Grammy nominations. In 1995, Oundjian was forced to step away from the violin, having developed focal dystonia in his left hand. He then turned his focus to reigniting his former passion for conducting, making his debut at the Caramoor International Music Festival with his friend and mentor André Previn. His other mentors include Yehudi Menuhin, Robert Mann, Leon Fleisher, and Pinchas Zukerman.

Prague Spring International Music Festival, BBC Proms, Edinburgh Festival, the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Mozart Festival, LA Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Symphony, NHK Symphony Orchestra (Japan), Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, L’Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, Zürich Tonhalle.