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Guest Conductor Biography: George Daugherty

By February 2, 2024April 9th, 2024No Comments
George Daugherty headshot

George Daugherty will be leading the Springfield Symphony Orchestra at our Bugs Bunny at the Symphony concerts on May at 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm. Tickets are available online or through our box office.


Conductor George Daugherty is one of the classical music world’s most diverse artists.   In addition to his 40-year conducting career which has included appearances with the world’s leading orchestras, ballet companies, opera houses, and concert artists, Daugherty is also an Emmy Award-winning / five-time Emmy-nominated creator whose professional profile includes major credits as a director, writer, and producer for television, film, innovative and unique concerts, and the live theater.

A frequent guest conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra, he made his debut there in 2000, and has since conducted the orchestra numerous times at both Verizon Hall at Kimmel Center, and at Mann Music Center, most recently in January 2022, in programs of both film music and classical repertoire. In the summer of 2022, he also conducted The Orchestra at the Bravo! Vail Music Festival. He made his debut with the New York Philharmonic at David Geffen Hall (then Avery Fisher Hall) at Lincoln Center in May, 2015 in four sold-out performances, and returned there in May 2019 for three more sold-out performances. Since 1993, he has conducted over 20 performances at The Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, and an equal number with The National Symphony Orchestra at Wolf Trap.  He has guest conducted The Pittsburgh Symphony in numerous engagements at Heinz Hall, most recently in March 2022. He also debuted with The Boston Pops in December, 2017 in three sold-out performances, and returned to The Pops in December, 2019. He debuted with Detroit Symphony in December 2018, and returns there in 2021. In 2023 he will make his debut with the iconic l’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in Geneva, Switzerland. His current and recent conducting schedule includes multiple performances with National Arts Centre Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony, Seattle Symphony, San Francisco Symphony (over 30 performances of film concerts and classical repertoire within two decades), Milwaukee Symphony, Utah Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra at both Severance Hall and the Blossom Festival, New Jersey Symphony, Seattle Symphony, and Hong Kong Philharmonic.  He has been a frequent guest conductor at the Sydney Opera House since 1996, and in 2002, 2005, 2010, and 2016, he returned to guest conduct the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House, including recording a new CD with the orchestra. In this and recent seasons, he also made debuts and return appearances with the Baltimore Symphony, Houston Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, Omaha Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic, Vancouver Symphony, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, West Australia Symphony Orchestra, the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, and multiple engagements with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra at both the National Concert Hall, and the new Grand Canal Theatre, both in Dublin, Ireland.  He has been a frequent guest conductor at the Bellas Artes Opera House in Mexico City, where he has conducted the Orquesta del Teatro de Bellas Artes in ballet and opera productions.  He has also been a frequent conductor of London’s Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, with whom he first made his debut in Royal Festival Hall and on tour throughout The U.K., and more recently conducted a 15-city U.S. and Canadian concert tour with the orchestra and guest artists Dame Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Charlotte Church, dancers of the Royal Ballet, and the Westminster Choir and Bell Ringers.

Daugherty has also conducted for scores of other major American and international symphony orchestras, ballet companies, and opera houses, including Indianapolis Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Nashville Symphony, Erie Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic, Louisville Orchestra, Moscow Symphony, Kremlin Palace Orchestra of the Russian Federation, Grant Park Symphony Orchestra, Columbus Symphony, Melbourne Symphony, the Auckland Philharmonia, Adelaide Symphony, the RCA Symphony Orchestra, Sadlers Wells Royal Ballet, Mexico City’s Bellas Artes Opera House, Montreal Symphony, Winnipeg Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, Syracuse Symphony, Memphis Symphony, Long Beach Symphony, Pacific Symphony, Edmonton Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, Charlotte Symphony, Delaware Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, Tucson Symphony, Saskatoon Symphony, Austin Symphony, Colorado Springs Philharmonic, New Orleans Symphony, Venezuela Symphony, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Seoul Prime Philharmonic, and major Italian opera houses in Rome, Florence, Turin, and Reggio Emilia. 

During the course of his career, he has also conducted for an extensive and eclectic list of international concert artists, including violinists Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Cho-Liang Lin,  Zachary De Pue, Rachel Lee, Kyung-wha Chung, Eugene Fodor; international opera artists Roberta Peters, Rosalind Elias, Julia Migenes, Jennifer Holloway, Rhys Meirion, Kristin Clayton, Bojan Knezevic, and Grace Bumbry; singer/actors including Dame Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Etta James, Rosemary Clooney, Charlotte Church and Lisa Vroman; narrators ranging from Lloyd Bridges and Buzz Aldrin to Amy Tan, and non-orchestral ensembles ranging from The Harvard Glee Club to The Westminster Choir to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

As a critically-acclaimed ballet conductor, Daugherty has conducted for dozens upon dozens of the greatest ballet stars in the world over the past four decades, ranging from Mikhail Baryshnikov, Rudolf Nureyev, Gelsey Kirkland, Carla Fracci, and Natalia Makarova, to the great stars of today . . . and from all decades in between. He has been on the conducting staffs of American Ballet Theatre, the Bavarian State Opera Ballet, La Scala Ballet, and Teatro Regio di Torino Ballet, was music director of The Louisville Ballet, Ballet Chicago, Chicago City Ballet, Alabama Ballet, and Eglevsky Ballet, and has guest conducted for scores of international companies. In 2016 Daugherty was appointed Music Director of the famed and iconic Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, with whom he made his debut conducting at The Kennedy Center Opera House in March, 2017, with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra.  From 2012 to 2015, he was Music Director of Ballet San Jose, where he conducted nearly 50 performances per season for the company, with Symphony Silicon Valley in the orchestra pit. In summer 2013, he made his debut conducting The Russian National Orchestra at the internationally acclaimed Napa Valley Festival del Sol, presiding over the reconstruction of a long-lost Fokine ballet with music by Rachmaninoff, plus an international ballet gala. He has conducted numerous versions of every full-length ballet, as well as scores of works by countless major choreographers ranging from George Balanchine to Sir Frederick Ashton.  

As a director, writer, and producer of music-based television programs, Daugherty has created several major productions for the ABC Television Network project, including a primetime animation-and-live action production of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, which he created, co-wrote, conducted, and directed, and for which he won a Prime Time Emmy Award as producer (in collaboration with producing partner David Ka Lik Wong), as well as numerous other major awards (including an additional Emmy nomination as conductor and music director.)  He (and David Ka Lik Wong) also collaborated with The Joy Luck Club author Amy Tan on a television series adaptation of her celebrated children’s book Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat.  The Emmy Award-winning 80-episode series debuted on PBS in the fall of 2001 as a daily-animated children’s television series, produced in cooperation with Sesame Workshop, PBS Kids, and CineGroupe.  Daugherty executive produced, and also wrote a large number of the animated tales.

Daugherty also received an Emmy nomination for Rhythm & Jam, his ABC television network specials which taught the basics of music to a teenage audience, which he created and produced with Mr. Wong.

In 1998, Daugherty received the biannual Indiana Governor’s Arts Award from the state of his birth, in recognition for his artistic contributions not only in Indiana, but also throughout the rest of the country.   In receiving the award, Daugherty joined an exclusive list of previous Hoosier honorees, including composers Cole Porter and Hoagy Carmichael, conductors Raymond Leppard and John Nelson, cellist Janos Starker, violinists Joshua Bell and Josef Gingold, architect Michael Graves, designer Bill Blass, and novelist Kurt Vonnegut Jr.  In 2005, he was also named a Sagamore of The Wabash by the late Indiana Governor Frank O’Bannon, the highest award which can be bestowed upon a performing artist from the state governor.

In 2006, Daugherty was also named a Library Laureate of the San Francisco Public Library for his contributions to children’s books, reading, and literature, joining a distinguished list of authors who have been awarded the title.  This award was especially meaningful to Daugherty, since his great-great-great-grandfather was the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  Daugherty was recently honored to be appointed to the Board of Directors of The Nevada School of The Arts.

In 1990, Daugherty created, directed, and conducted the hit Broadway musical Bugs Bunny On Broadway, a live-orchestra-and-film stage production which sold-out its extended run at New York’s Gershwin Theatre on Broadway, and has since played to critical acclaim and sold-out houses all over the world. The Bugs Bunny symphonic concert tradition continued when Daugherty and producing partner David Ka Lik Wong launched a new version, Bugs Bunny At The Symphony, in 2010, with double World Premieres at the Sydney Opera House with the Sydney Symphony, and the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The next version of the concert, Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II, also created by Daugherty and Wong, premiered in 2013 with world premieres at the Hollywood Bowl/Los Angeles Philharmonic and National Symphony at Wolf Trap.  The current concert, marking the 30th Anniversary of this concert franchise, premiered in autumn 2019 with Erie Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, and Boston Pops. 

Daugherty lived in San Francisco for the past 20 years, and now resides in Las Vegas.

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