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Nicholas Koo


Nicholas Koo is a Korean-American conductor who has worked with multiple orchestras across the United States including the Minnesota Orchestra, Colorado Symphony Association and San Diego Symphony. He has made a number of appearances conducting the Colorado Symphony Orchestra in its regular season and is active in the Chicago area both on and off the podium; additionally he has worked with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association in artistic media and video production. In addition to assisting a number of notable conductors such as Donald Runnicles, Peter Oundjian, Fabien Gabel, Rune Bergmann and Marin Alsop, Koo has also worked alongside soloists including Emanuel Ax, Hélène Grimaud, Joyce Yang, the Royal Concertgebouw’s Jörgen van Rijen and the Minnesota Orchestra’s Principal Cello Anthony Ross. In March 2024 he will be featured alongside violinist Hilary Hahn conducting the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.

Most recently, Koo was recognized by the Solti Foundation U.S., which in 2023 awarded him the prestigious Career Assistance Award for young conductors. In December 2022, he was selected from a pool of over 300 world-wide applicants to be an active conductor of the Riccardo Muti Italian Opera Academy in Ravenna, Italy, that culminated in a performance of Verdi’s Messa da Requiem. In the summer of 2023, Koo was invited to be assistant conductor for the Peninsula Music Festival as the Karen Smuda Emerging Conductor where he led multiple, back-to-back programs highlighting the works of Scandinavian and underrepresented composers. He joined the artist roster of Festival Mozaic in the summer of 2022 as their first appointed assistant conductor, which led to a collaborative ballet production with the San Luis Obispo Movement Arts Center. Koo has been a frequent conductor of multiple years at the Colorado College Summer Music Festival, notably in the 2021 summer where he was featured leading the CCSMF Orchestra in the PBS television’s masterworks series, Now Hear This. A strong advocate for contemporary music, Koo also served as music director for the Atlantic Music Festival Contemporary Ensemble and assistant conductor of the Atlantic Music Festival Symphony Orchestra, where he premiered more than 20 new works for chamber and full orchestra.

Koo has participated in various masterclasses, working with eminent musical figures such as Esa-Pekka Salonen and Gustavo Dudamel. He received both his masters and doctoral degrees in conducting from Northwestern University as the final student of pedagogue Victor Yampolsky, where his dissertation work resulted in a U.S. premiere of a new arrangement of Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. He is an alumnus of the University of California Berkeley for undergraduate degrees in both molecular cell biology and music and it is where he began his orchestral conducting studies under David Milnes and choral conducting with Marika Kuzma and San Francisco Symphony Chorus Director Emeritus, Vance George. Among many others, his mentors include Riccardo Muti, Fabien Gabel, Rune Bergmann and Scott Yoo.