Biography

“…an ideal podium artist for the 21st century.”

– Marcos Balter, Composer

Photo: Yasmeen Anderson

Propelled by his vision to make symphonic music relevant to new audiences, American conductor Brent Chancellor designs and presents programs that re-imagine how the orchestra connects with people. Brent has performed on some of the New York area’s foremost stages including Carnegie Hall, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Symphony Space, DiMenna Center and New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

As Founding Artistic Director of the LUX Initiative, Brent’s ambitious vision for concerts and education are establishing him as a distinctive, versatile and innovative artist and educator. Brent’s leadership has paired South Orange Performing Arts Center and Grammy® Award winning violinist Zach Brock (Snarky Puppy) with emerging and under-represented musicians who present district-wide concerts for students in South Orange-Maplewood schools. With a focus on inclusion, diversity and access, collaborations between composers, artists, lighting designers, teachers and electronic musicians guide young listeners through exciting multi-genre orchestra experiences.

Brent was named a 2021-22 Conducting Fellow with the Allentown Symphony Orchestra and a 2022-23 Conducting Fellow with the Reading Symphony Orchestra, working with top-level musicians from the New York Tri-state area. Previous positions include Music Director of the Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra, Rockland Symphony Orchestra and Rutgers University Sinfonia, and Assistant Conductor at New Jersey Festival Orchestra and Festival Napa Valley. Additionally, Brent serves as a cover conductor for the Buffalo Philharmonic, and has worked with the New Jersey Symphony and Charleston Symphony Orchestras assisting conductors JoAnn Falletta, Stéphane Denève, Otto Tausk, and Nicholas McGegan alongside soloists including André Watts, Leon Fleisher, Seong-Jin Cho, Angel Blue and Lester Lynch. In 2019, he was invited to lead guest performances for The Irish Tenors East Coast Holiday Tour and the New Jersey All-State Orchestra, and in 2021, was named a finalist in the Lányi International Conducting Competition.

Committed to the voices of diverse and living composers, Brent is a dedicated advocate for new and under-performed music. Recent performances include works by 19th century French female composer Louise Farrenc, and contemporary composers Amanda Harberg, Lowell Liebermann, John Corigliano, John Adams and Michael Torke. From 2019-2021 Brent led premiere performances with the Helix! New Music Ensemble, and in 2018 and 2019, was invited to the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music to study with Christian Măcelaru, Music Director of the Orchestre National de France. In 2015, Brent led the New Jersey premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s, Lichtbogen, and his 2001 performance of Steve Reich’s Piano Phase was praised by the composer as “one of the best performances” he had heard.

Equally skilled on the opera podium, Brent began his conducting career assisting Metropolitan Opera conductor Paul Nadler. Since 2008, Brent has worked closely with the International Vocal Arts Institute in Israel, Canada and New York collaborating with many notable artists including Nadine Sierra, Natalie Aroyan and Oren Gradus. Hailed by Mignon Dunn as “a real singers’ conductor”, in 2018, Brent stepped in last minute to conduct performances of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia leading to his immediate appointment as Interim Music Director of the Montclair State University Opera Orchestra. He is currently Music Director of the New Jersey Vocal Arts Collaborative. His credits include Ariadne auf NaxosLa Traviata, ToscaMadame ButterflyDon GiovanniDie Zauberflöte, Le Nozze di Figaro, Tamerlano and L’enfant et les sortilèges.

Brent began studying percussion at the age of eight and holds degrees in composition, piano and conducting from Rutgers University, the John J. Cali School of Music and California State University Sacramento. Additional studies include an international ambassadorship at the Hochschule für Musik Trossingen in Germany and advanced studies in orchestral conducting at the The Juilliard School evening division. He has held conducting fellowships with the Blackburn Music Academy at Festival Napa Valley, International Vocal Arts Institute and Canadian Vocal Arts Institute learning from luminaries including conductors Riccardo Muti, Joel Revzen and Martin West, opera coaches Joan Dornemann, Gerald Martin Moore and Sherrill Milnes, and composers George Crumb, Steve Reich and Aaron J. Kernis. His mentors include Paul Nadler (Metropolitan Opera) and Ken Lam (Charleston Symphony).

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