With a dynamic podium presence and noted passionate interpretations, Indian American conductor Roger Kalia has been celebrated by audiences and industry professionals alike, with Symphony Magazine recently recognizing him nationally as one of five first-year music directors with innovative programming during the pandemic. Praised for bringing a "fresh view to classical music" (The Republic, IN), Kalia is now in his fourth season as Music Director of the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, his fifth season as Music Director of the Symphony New Hampshire, and in his sixth season with Orchestra Santa Monica. He is also Co-Founder and Music Director of the celebrated Lake George Music Festival in upstate New York. The recipient of several awards from the Solti Foundation U.S., including an Elizabeth Buccheri Opera Residency with Lyric Opera of Chicago and five Career Assistance Awards, Kalia has been praised for his "extraordinary leadership" (Courier & Press).
A versatile communicator and frequent guest conductor, Kalia is described as "leading with passionate intensity and a clear beat" as well as being "one to watch" (Long Beach Gazette) after his debut with the Long Beach Symphony. In recent seasons, Kalia has appeared with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, Chicago Sinfonietta, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Szczecin Philharmonic (Poland), Hollywood Chamber Orchestra, Boise Philharmonic Orchestra, Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Columbus Indiana Philharmonic, and the symphony orchestras of Redlands, Terre Haute, Lima, Adrian, Bakersfield, Great Falls, Owensboro, Spokane, and Wheeling. The 2023-24 season features a debut with the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra and a return engagement with the Long Beach Symphony.
Kalia's 2023-24 season features him leading Symphony NH for their 100th anniversary season in a variety of programs including their first-ever symphonic Bollywood concert featuring Indian-American singer Anuradha "Juju" Palakurthi at the Nashua Center for the Arts; two world premieres including D.J. Sparr's Extraordinary Motion: Concerto for Electric Harp featuring Rosanna Moore, and the New Hampshire Concerto (Symphony NH's first collaborative commission with student composers from Dartmouth and the University of New Hampshire); and a unique collaboration with the Nashua-based Spartans Drum Corps. With the Evansville Philharmonic, the orchestra will perform the Evansville premieres of Dinuk Wijeratne's Tabla Concerto featuring Sandeep Das and Sheridan Seyfried's Double Concerto for Two Violins and Orchestra featuring Timothy and Nikki Chooi; performances of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, Brahms' Symphony No. 4, and Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2; a return of the Musicians Showcase concert as part of the Classics Series featuring principal musicians of the orchestra as soloists; and first-ever collaborations with the University of Southern Indiana and the Red Skelton Theater at Vincennes University. Orchestra Santa Monica was recently chosen to be a part of the inaugural California Festival: A Celebration of New Music where Kalia will lead the orchestra in Brian Raphael Nabor's lubilo. Kalia recently appointed acclaimed baritone Jubilant Sykes as OSM's first-ever Artistic Advisor for the upcoming season, where the two of them will collaborate and plan future concert programs.
In his various music director positions, Kalia has focused on innovative artistic partnerships highlighting a variety of community partners. In 2021, Kalia collaborated with composer Derrick Skye, historian Robbie Jones, and artist Kevin McCants to commission and premiere Orchestra Santa Monica's first-ever art film titled We Gather: Black Life in Santa Monica told through music, visuals, and narrative, which has since received screenings at the California African American Museum and KUSC. In 2022, We Gather Suite for Orchestra was commissioned by OSM and received its world premiere performance as part of OSM's ten-year anniversary season. Kalia's early seasons as music director of the Evansville Philharmonic have seen fruitful artistic collaborations with community organizations such as Historic Bosse Field, the Tri-State Hindu Temple, Evansville Civic Theatre, Children's Center for Dance Education, and the Evansville Wartime Museum. Kalia's visionary programming has been featured on PBS' "On the Road with Brick Briscoe" and "Regional Voices," and in publications such as Evansville Living Magazine and the League of American Orchestra's Symphony Magazine.
In 2011, Kalia and two of his colleagues co-founded the Lake George Music Festival, which has been described as "an unparalleled classical music experience in the Adirondacks" (Chronogram). As one of the nation's foremost classical music artist retreats, the festival 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-all held at the newly renovated Carriage House on the ground of the Fort William Henry Hotel. Kalia's leadership has been hailed as "unbounded and impressive" (The Glens Falls Chronicle) with concert performances of the Festival Orchestra being regularly featured on NPR's Performance Today and highlighted in Gramophone Magazine, Musical America, and Saratoga Living, among others. Kalia has led programs ranging from semi-staged chamber operas to commissioned works and premieres including Sheridan Seyfried's Double Concerto for Two Violins and Orchestra featuring Nikki and Timothy Chooi, and Paul Dooley's Northern Nights featuring percussionist Lisa Pegher. Kalia was recently featured on the UpBeat Podcast from "Everything Conducting" for his innovative work at the festival including the creation of its inaugural Conducting Fellowship program this past summer.
Kalia has collaborated with a wide range of artists including singers Angela Brown, Reginald Smith Jr, Shayna Steele, and Jubilant Sykes; guitarist Meng Su; the Grammy award winning trio Time for Three; Cirque de la Symphonie; Electronic Dance Music (EDM) duo MAKO; Project TRIO; singer/songwriters Randy Newman and Randy Jackson; violinists Nathan Cole, Glenn Dicterow and Sirena Huang; trumpeter Thomas Hooten; pianists Fei-Fei Dong, Vijay Venkatesh, Sean Chen, and Misha Dichter; rock musicians Johnny Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls and Nancy Wilson of Heart; the B-52s; sitar player Anoushka Shankar; actor Jack Black; and visual artist/astronomer Dr. José Francisco Salgado.
A native of New York State, 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 with additional mentoring from David Zinman, Marin Alsop, Robert Spano, and the late Kurt Masur. Previous posts include Associate Conductor of California's Pacific Symphony, Assistant Conductor of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Conducting Fellow with the Chicago Sinfonietta, and Music Director of the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra, Young Musicians Foundation (YMF) Debut Orchestra, and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra (IN). Kalia attended the Aspen Music Festival where he was a Conducting Fellow in 2010, and 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. Kalia is married to musicologist / violinist Christine Wisch.