Eckart Preu has been Music Director of the Spokane Symphony since the 2004-2005 Season; during his highly acclaimed debut season, he received rave reviews from critics, audience members and musicians alike. He has since become a beloved member of the Spokane community, and was featured in the Spokesman Review's leadership series.
Since the 2005-06 Season, he has also served as the music director of the Stamford (Conn.) Symphony. For two seasons he was Associate Conductor of the Richmond Symphony. He also served as Resident Conductor with the American Symphony Orchestra and the American Russian Young Artists Orchestra. Former posts include Music Director of the Norwalk (CT) Youth Symphony and Principal Conductor of the New Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra (NY). He has been associated with the Bard Music Festival since 1997 as both Assistant and Guest Conductor. In Europe, Preu served as Music Director of the Orchestre International de Paris from 1993-95 and was an Assistant Conductor at Radio France.
As a guest conductor, he has appeared with the Pecs Philharmonic (Hungary), the Varna Philharmonic (Bulgaria), Nouvel Ensemble du Conservatoire Supérieur de Musique de Paris (France), and in Germany with the Jenaer Philharmoniker, the Hallesche Philharmonic, the Thüringer Kammerorchester, the Landessinfonieorchester Gotha and the Jugendorchester Berlin. Recent highlights include his Carnegie Hall debut in May 1999 and a live radio/TV broadcast with the Radio Philharmonic of Slovenia in February 2000 which also included concerts in Ljubljana, Malibor and Portogruaro (Italy).
A native of Germany, Preu came to the United States as winner of the National Conducting Competition of the German Academic Exchange Service (1996) for graduate studies with Harold Farberman at the Hartt School of Music where he also received the Karl Boehm Scholarship. In Germany he earned a masters degree in conducting from the Hochschule für Musik in Weimar studying under Gunther Kahlert and Nicolas Pasquet. He also studied under Jean-Sebastien Bereau at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris in France.
Preu's education was made possible by scholarships from the Herbert von Karajan Foundation, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the French Ministry of Culture. In November 1998, he took third place at the International Competition for Young Conductors of the European Union in Spoleto, Italy.
Preu's early musical training was in piano and singing. At the age of 10, he became a member of the Boys Choir Dresdner Kreuzchor and went on to work with them as soloist, rehearsal pianist, and Assistant Conductor. He subsequently served as a vocal coach with the Altenburg Opera, the Erfurt Opera House in Germany and the Regina Opera in New York. From 1999-2000, Preu was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Bard College, NY, and in the summers of 2000 and 2001 he served on the guest faculty of the C.W. Post Chamber Music Festival.
Past Music Directors
Harold Paul Whelan, 1945-61
Donald Thulean, 1962-84 Conductor Emeritus
Gunther Schuller, 1984-85
Bruce Ferden, 1985-91
Vakhtang Jordania, 1991-93
Fabio Mechetti, 1993-2004 Conductor Laureate