Music Director Laureate
Michael Morgan was born in Washington, D.C., where he attended public schools and began conducting at the age of 12. While a student at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, he spent a summer at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, studying with Gunther Schuller and Seiji Ozawa. He first worked with Leonard Bernstein during that same summer.
His operatic debut was in 1982 at the Vienna State Opera, conducting Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio. In 1986, Sir Georg Solti chose him to become the Assistant Conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a position he held for seven years under both Solti and Daniel Barenboim. In 1986, he was invited by Leonard Bernstein to make his debut with the New York Philharmonic. As guest conductor, Morgan appeared with most of America’s major orchestras, as well as the New York City Opera, St. Louis Opera Theater and Washington National Opera.
In addition to his duties with the Symphony since 1991, Maestro Morgan served as Artistic Director of Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra, Music Director at Bear Valley Music Festival, and Music Director of Gateways Music Festival. He was Music Director Emeritus of the Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera, and was on the boards of Oaktown Jazz Workshops, and the Purple Silk Music Education Foundation.
In 2020, he began an association with the San Francisco Symphony as the first curator of their Currents online series, and led the Orchestra on July 23 at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco in what the San Francisco Chronicle’s Joshua Kosman said, “Some conductors use a guest appearance with a major orchestra as an opportunity to show what they can do. Michael Morgan uses it to show what the orchestra can do. I like his way better.”
Maestro Morgan died peacefully on August 20, 2021 at Oakland Kaiser where he had been admitted for an infection. He is survived by his mother Mabel Morgan, and sister Jacquelyn Morgan.