Roger Kalia, Music Director
“…what a remarkable performance [of the Mendelssohn “Scottish” symphony] …. Mendelssohn’s
paean to the rugged beauty of that northern nation came alive in this fine performance, with the EPO
under the extraordinary leadership of Kalia.” – Courier & Press (IN)
“Kalia brings a fresh view to classical music.” - The Republic (IN)
“Kalia led with passionate intensity and a clear beat… …He’s one to watch.” – Long Beach Gazette (CA)
“Kalia emerges to my ear as the [Lake George Music] festival’s secret weapon.
His enthusiasm and positivism…is unbounded. His leadership, impressive.” - The Glens Falls Chronicle (NY)
Innovation and dynamism are the hallmarks of Indian-American conductor Roger Kalia. A respected collaborator with orchestras and artists alike, and a compelling presence both on and off the podium, Kalia is known for his eloquent and passionate interpretations and for bringing a “fresh view to classical music” (The Republic). Music Director of the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, Symphony NH (Symphony New Hampshire), and Orchestra Santa Monica, he is also the Co-Founder and Music Director of the celebrated Lake George Music Festival in upstate New York, which celebrates its ten-year anniversary in August 2021 (postponed due to Covid-19 from August 2020).
The 2021-22 season sees Kalia leading his orchestras in live concerts. Of special note is the world premiere this fall of Orchestra Santa Monica’s commission by composer Derrick Skye for the art film “Santa Monica Black Life Expressed through Music, Visuals, and Narrative,” which combines musicians, artists, and local historians from the Santa Monica area. Maestro Kalia makes his subscription debut with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and Spartanburg Philharmonic this season, and returns for performances with Poland’s Szczecin Philharmonic, and the Hollywood Chamber Orchestra at the Redlands Bowl.
During the 2020-21 season, Kalia reimagined the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2020-21 season around COVID-19 with great success, which featured the world premiere of Paul Dooley’s River City, celebrating both the Philharmonic and the city of Evansville. He also programmed works by living composers such as Jessie Montgomery, Jessica Meyer, T.J. Cole, and Reena Esmail, and curated unique collaborations with Evansville Civic Theatre, Historic Bosse Field, the Evansville Wartime Museum, Ballet Indiana, and tango dancers from the University of Evansville. With Symphony NH, Kalia celebrated the spirit of diversity in the arts with works by Sarah Kirkland Snider, George Walker, William Grant-Still, and Osvaldo Golijov, as well as introducing regional partnerships with Mayor Jim Donchess, classical musicians from the Indian community, and a new online series entitled "Granite State Conversations with Roger Kalia,” highlighting different New Hampshire artists, civic and business leaders.
A versatile communicator, amongst the orchestras that Roger Kalia has appeared with are the National Symphony Orchestra at Washington DC’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Chicago Sinfonietta at Symphony Hall, the symphony orchestras of Lima, Long Beach, Adrian, Bakersfield, Great Falls, Owensboro, Redlands, Spokane, and Wheeling as well as the Boise Philharmonic, and Camarada Chamber Orchestra. Kalia has collaborated with a wide range of artists, including singers Shayna Steele and Steve Lippia, Electronic Dance Music (EDM) duo MAKO, singer/songwriter Randy Newman, Philadelphia Orchestra concertmaster David Kim, violinists Glenn Dicterow, Nikki and Timothy Chooi, and Sphinx Competition winner Annelle Gregory, percussionist Lisa Pegher, pianists Fei-Fei Dong and Misha Dichter, the B-52s, PROJECT Trio, the Brooklyn-based electronic Indie band Balún, actor Jack Black, and visual artist and astronomer Dr. José Francisco Salgado.
Equally at home with modern repertoire as he is with popular warhorses, Roger Kalia is a passionate advocate of contemporary music, and has commissioned and/or programmed numerous works by some of today’s most exciting living American composers including Paul Dooley, Reena Esmail, Brendan Faegre, T.J. Cole, Missy Mazzoli, Narong Prangcharoen, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Harry Stafylakis, Jessica Meyer, Austin Wintory, Michael Daugherty, and Paul Chihara. Kalia has led the U.S. premieres of Michael Murray’s Pilgrims and King David's Dance with musicians of Pacific Symphony and has commissioned and led several world and state premieres at Lake George Music Festival which are frequently broadcast on NPR’s Performance Today. They include Chris Rogerson’s Four Meditations for Orchestra, Sheridan Seyfried’s Double Concerto for Two Violins and Orchestra, and the New York premiere of Paul Dooley’s Northern Nights.
A staunch supporter of music education, Kalia’s tenure as Music Director of the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra (2015-2020) was highly praised and included numerous commissioned works and a three-city tour of China in June 2016, marking the orchestra’s second international tour and its first to Asia. Kalia has conducted numerous youth and collegiate orchestras, including the 2021 Georgia All-State Symphony Orchestra, the 2018 Missouri All-State Symphony Orchestra, The Colburn Orchestra, California State University Fullerton Symphony Orchestra, Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra, and the Irvine Seraphim Symphony. He has created family and educational concerts in a variety of concert formats, and has collaborated on the education platform with such renowned artists and ensembles as Cirque de la Symphony, Orange County’s Festival Ballet Theater, speed painter Dan Dunn, and the Magic Circle Mime Co. Furthermore, Kalia has also served as an instructor of conducting at USC’s Thornton School of Music.
In 2011, Kalia and two of his colleagues co-founded the Lake George Music Festival, an original, ground-breaking, two-week nationally recognized music festival that presents cutting-edge artists and composers performing classical and new music, traditional and experimental concerts and recitals of various sizes, open rehearsals, informational talks, and a variety of community outreach programs. As Music Director, Kalia programs and conducts all orchestral and large ensemble concerts, including the popular “Sounds of Our Time,” series (which he created and curates) highlighting connections between popular and orchestral music though multimedia concert formats, as well as the festival’s Family Concert Series. He also programs and conducts the “Uncorked” concert series, creating an immersive experience for the audience by performing chamber operas in unique settings. In 2018, Kalia introduced Symphony Happy Hours, informal, informative chats about music that take place in local breweries and bars.
A native of New York State, Roger Kalia holds degrees from Indiana University, the University of Houston and SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music. His primary mentors include David Effron, Arthur Fagen, and Franz Anton Krager. Among his honors and awards are five Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Awards (2013, 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021), a 2019 Solti Foundation Elizabeth Buccheri Opera Residency with Lyric Opera of Chicago (where he assisted Sir Andrew Davis for Rossini’s The Barber of Seville), a Project Inclusion Conducting Freeman Fellowship with Chicago Sinfonietta, and an American Academy of Conducting Fellowship at the Aspen Music Festival with Robert Spano. Recently, Kalia was recognized in the League of American Orchestras’ Symphony Magazine as one of five first-year music directors for his innovative work during the pandemic.
In 2011, Kalia won Second Prize in the Memphis Symphony International Conducting Competition, which led to his debut with the orchestra the following season and launched his professional career. Earlier posts include serving as Associate Conductor of California’s Pacific Symphony, Assistant Conductor of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, and Music Director of the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra, Young Musicians Foundation (YMF) Debut Orchestra, and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra (IN). Kalia is married to musicologist / violinist Christine Wisch.