Robin Fountain, Music Director & Conductor
Currently in his eleventh season as Music Director of the Southwest Michigan Symphony (SMSO), Maestro Fountain is also Professor of Conducting at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of music where he has led the Vanderbilt Orchestra on two acclaimed tours of China. His diverse array of musical interests and specialties from the opera pit to contemporary pops to the masterworks have made him a compelling presence on the podium, and his guest conducting engagements have taken him to Russia (National Philharmonics of Tomsk and Kemorova), France (‘Orchestre d’Aix Conservatoire and L’Orchestre de Chambre de la Gironde), Poland (Opole and Sudecka Philharmonics) and Spain, as well as throughout the US.
At the Southwest Michigan Symphony, Fountain has led a transformation of the orchestra’s performance level, repertoire and scope, with the ensemble now boasting a summer series (the Water’s Edge), a choral partnership (the Citadel/Symphony Chorus) and an El Sistema-inspired teaching program at the Boys and Girls Club of Benton Harbor (Music Makers). His tenure at the SMSO has been characterized by bold, varied and innovative collaboration with other artists and groups. Particularly noteworthy are a “Concerto for Drum Line and Orchestra,” commissioned from composer Larry Schanker and premièred with Benton Harbor drum line artists as soloists; “Valentine’s Day from a Woman’s Point of View,” a concert developed and performed with folk artist Anne Hills, jazz artist Jenna Mammina, country artist Theressa Ruppert and opera artist Emily Benner; and “Love and War in Music and Letters,” a Veteran’s Day concert developed and performed in collaboration with actor/scriptwriter Doug Fordyce. Recent guest soloists have included Rachel Barton Pine, Christopher O’Riley and Cicely Parnas. The SMSO’s 2015/16 Season concluded with an acclaimed performance of Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony.
His appointment in Michigan followed a fifteen-year tenure with the Williamsport Symphony in Pennsylvania, which concluded with the award of two consecutive NEA grants. He was also honored with the Director’s Chair Award from the Williamsport Community Arts Center in recognition of his impact on the region’s artistic life.
The Vanderbilt Orchestra’s tours of China, with performances in the Shanghai Oriental Arts Center, the Great Hall of the People in Beijing and in many other cities, and the breadth of Maestro Fountain’s programming, including recent performances of Bernstein’s Mass and the commission and upcoming premiere of a concerto from electric violinist/composer Tracy Silverman, have distinguished his leadership of the program. He has won both the university-wide Madison Sarratt Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and the Blair School of Music’s Faculty Excellence Award.
Maestro Fountain balances orchestra concerts with extensive work in the opera pit. Recent productions have included Sondheim’s Into the Woods, Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte, Nicolai’s The Merry Wives of Windsor and Lucy Simon’s A Secret Garden.
Educated at Oxford University, The Royal College of Music in London with Norman Del Mar and Christopher Adey, and at Carnegie Mellon University, Robin Fountain was an Aspen Conducting Fellow in 1984. In 2012 he was privileged to have the opportunity to train with members of the famed Berlin Philharmonic at The Conductors Lab in Aix-en-Provence.