International Conductor’s Guild Elects New Officers and Board Members

By Chris Ruel

The International Conductor’s Guild (ICG), in collaboration with La Asociación Española de Directores de Orquesta (AESDO) and with the support of Berklee College of Music Valencia, held their 2023 International Conference in Valencia, Spain, in mid-January. ICG is a service organization focused on advancing the art and profession of conducting.

Over 100 conductors attended the conference, and a new team of officers and directors was elected. The following were installed as officers.

Dr. Fox Hilliard, President. A recipient of numerous awards, the esteemed conductor currently serves as Music Director of the Albany Symphony Orchestra and is an Associate Professor at Albany State University. Hillard made his conducting debut at 18. At 25, he became one of the youngest conductors to be appointed the Music Director of a professional orchestra. Hillard studied under renowned conductors James Dixon, Leonard Slatkin, Pierre Boulez, Maurice Abravanel, Jorge Mester, and John Barnett.

The maestro is an Associate Professor at Albany State University and conductor for the Gulf Coast Steinway Society Concerto Competition and will serve a two-year term.

Dr. Fox Hillard remarked in an official press statement, “I am thankful to the ICG membership for their confidence and support in electing me as President of the ICG. I am very excited to take on this new role with the International Conductors Guild. The ICG is a forward-thinking membership and service organization that continues to impact the conducting industry. We have lots of work to do but I am confident our members will join us as we make plans for our 50th anniversary in 2025 and beyond.”

Christopher Blair, Vice President. Blair is Principal/Chief Scientist of Akustiks and the Laurel Beach Casino Orchestra conductor. Renowned for his acoustical design expertise in concert halls and opera houses, Blair’s current projects include acoustical upgrades for the new David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, renovation of the Cincinnati Music Hall, a new concert hall for the National Symphony of Costa Rica, a new recital hall in São Paulo, and a new concert hall in Seoul, Korea.

Dr. Julie Sorensen, Secretary. Sorensen is Music Director/Conductor of the Idaho State Civic Symphony Orchestra and Associate Professor at Idaho State University. She previously served as an assistant conductor for the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra, where she conducted family, children’s, and holiday concerts. Sorensen was the assistant director for symphonies at Texas Tech University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Dr. Robert Whalen, Treasurer. Whalen is a Lecturer of Music and Conducting at Rensselaer Polytechnic Insititute and leads the Rensselaer Orchestra, Concert Choir, and Chamber Music Activities. He studied composition with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steven Stucky and is a passionate advocate for contemporary music. Whalen is also  Co-Founder and Music Director of the Philadelphia-based ensemble SoundLAB.

Dr. Julius P. Williams, Immediate Past President. Williams was the first African American President of the International Conductors Guild. The maestro was key in changing the organization’s name and position when elected President in 2019. Williams, an award-winning polymath, has been involved in nearly every musical genre, creating dozens of works for opera, ballet, orchestra, chamber ensemble, chorus and solo voice, dance, musical theatre, and film. Currently, he serves as Professor of Composition at Berklee College of Music, Artistic Director/Conductor of  Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra (Boston), and conductor of Trilogy Opera in Newark, NJ.

Dr. John Farrer,  Emeritus Past President. Farrer is known in the conducting field as one of the top teachers. He played a key role in connecting the ICG to the Spanish conductor association, AESDO, for the January International Conference. The maestro had a thirty-nine-year career as the music director of the Bakersfield Symphony. He has eight critically acclaimed recordings with the London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony, and English Sinfonia, along with praise for his latest recording of Brahms Symphony No. 2 with the New Queen’s Hall Orchestra.

The ICG Board of Directors comprises the Executive Committee and up to 25 Board Directors. New members named to the ICG Board are Dr. Thomas Gamboa – Assistant Professor and Assistant Director of Wind Studies at CCM – University of Cincinnati; Dr. Dominque Royem – Fort Bend Symphony Orchestra; Dr. Scott Woodard – Butler Philharmonic and Director of Instrumental Music at West Virginia State University in Institute, WV; Dr. Scott Wood – Director of Orchestral Activities at The George Washington University’s Corcoran School of Arts and Design, Music Director and Conductor of the Arlington Philharmonic, and the Amadeus Orchestra; Dr. Sasha Mäkilä – Artistic Director of the Helsinki Metropolitan Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor of the Krasnoyarsk Symphony Orchestra.