Our Music Director

Gary Berkson has served as Resident Conductor of the Royal Swedish Ballet and Royal Swedish Opera as well as Principal Conductor of the Gothenburg opera house “Stora Teatern” where he was also Artistic Adviser. He also served for ten years as Head of the Opera Division at the Royal Swedish Opera House.

Mr. Berkson began his musical studies at the age of four at the piano, learning to play not only classical music but pop, jazz, rock, and Broadway as well. Before graduating high school, he was an active accompanist for instrumentalists, vocalists, and choruses throughout the southern California area. He studied conducting at the Claremont Colleges and the renowned Juilliard School of Music in New York before working for the Greater Miami Opera in Florida. In 1979, he moved to Europe where he lived and worked for thirty years.

Maestro Berkson is best known for his work as a conductor in the theatre, appearing with companies as the Dutch National Ballet, the Nederlands Dans Theater I & II, Hamburg Ballet, Norwegian National Ballet, Royal Swedish Ballet, Finnish National Ballet; in the operatic field with the Greater Miami Opera, Chattanooga Opera, Royal Swedish Opera, Malmö Opera och Musikteater and at international music festivals in the United States, Germany, Bulgaria and Norway conducting operas and ballets ranging from the traditional to the contemporary as well as musicals and operettas. He has conducted world premières of works by Per Nørgaard, Hans Gefors, Arne Mellnäs, Thomas Jennefelt, Lars Johan Werle, Diego Dall’Osto, Ian McQueen, as well as the Bulgarian première of Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande and the Swedish premières of Leonard Bernstein's Candide (Opera House Version) and Peter Maxwell Davies' Taverner. He has worked closely with internationally recognized choreographers as Jiri Kylian, Glenn Tetley, Birgit Cullberg, Patrice Bart, Hans van Manen, John Neumeier, Ted Brandsen, Christopher Hampson, Wayne Eagling, Jacopo Godani and Krzysztof Pastor as well as conducting ballets from the repertoire of George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, Frederick Ashton, Maurice Béjart, Jerome Robbins, Nils Christie, José Limón, William Forsythe amongst many others. Among the great international artists he has worked with are Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Doming, Mirella Freni, Renata Scotto, Nicolai Gedda, Elisabeth Söderström, Nina Stemme, Katarina Dalayman, Joseph Swenson, Sharon Robinson and Zara Nelsova.

Gary Berkson is no stranger to symphony orchestras. He has appeared with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Gothenburg Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, Royal Swedish Court Orchestra, Sophia Philharmonic, Orquesta Sinfonica de Bilbao, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, Holland Symfonia, Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Stockholm Sinfonietta, Helsingborg Symphony and Malmö Symphony Orchestra. Orchestras he has conducted in North America include the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Canada, Evansville Philharmonic, Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra and the San Antonio Symphony. On the lighter side, he has worked with such esteemed popular artists as Michael Bolton, Jason Alexander, Tommy Tune, The Texas Tenors and Tony-Award winning singer Debbie Gravitte.

Mr. Berkson has had the honor of conducting for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip of Great Britain, King Carl XVI Gustav and Queen Silvia of Sweden, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands as well as the Presidents and Prime Ministers of many European countries.

Gary Berkson was honored to be chosen among one hundred alumni to be featured in “Dance, Drama, Music: 100 Years of the Juilliard School” published in celebration of its centenary.

In addition to his duties as Music Director of The Desert Symphony, Maestro Berkson also serves as Music Director of The Peninsula Symphony in Los Angeles.

WordPress Image Lightbox Plugin