Kedrick Armstrong
Music Director

From Georgetown, SC, 29-year-old Kedrick Armstrong is the new Music Director of the Oakland Symphony. Kedrick becomes the 9th Music Director in the Oakland Symphony’s almost 100-year-history. In addition to Michael Morgan (1991-2021), previous Oakland Symphony Music Directors include Orley See (1933–1958), Harold Farberman (1971–78), and the orchestra’s first African-American Music Director, Calvin Simmons (1979–1982).

As Music Director, Kedrick will conduct the orchestra’s public concerts in and around the Bay Area, actively participate in the organization’s active education and community engagement programs, and will be the organization’s cultural ambassador and connector with Bay Area artists and community organizations. He enjoys a wide range of repertoire, spanning early music to premiering new works, while using his joy and curiosity for all music to cultivate understanding and collaboration within diverse communities.

Kedrick is not a new face to Oakland as he has been an active partner with the Oakland Symphony over the last few years both on and off the stage. From 2022-2024, Kedrick led three Oakland Symphony programs and guest conducted the Orchestra showcasing his broad knowledge of the classical repertoire and enthusiasm for spotlighting diverse voices.

On his Oakland Symphony subscription debut on February 16, 2024, Kedrick led the World Premiere of Here I Stand: Paul Robeson, an oratorio by Carlos Simon on a libretto by Dan Harder, commissioned by the Oakland Symphony. Of the performance, SF Classical Voice raved, “Kedrick Armstrong made a memorable subscription-series debut. He is also a musical activist of the highest order and in the best sense.”

On April 16, 2023, Armstrong conducted the Oakland Symphony’s Family Hype concert, presented in partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Bay Area. The program featured a playlist of music selected by kids fighting critical illnesses, their families, and the hospital teams and community leaders who support them through their medical journey.

Kedrick first led the Orchestra for a free “Summerstage at City Hall” concert at the foot of Oakland City Hall on August 4, 2022. This program featured guest violinist Amaryn Olmeda and a repertoire of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, William Grant Still, and Darius Milhaud.

Now, after an extensive two-year search, Kedrick has been selected unanimously by Oakland Symphony’s Board of Directors and musicians. The search committee, chaired by longtime Board member James F. Bell, was impressed by Armstrong’s demonstrated leadership and community-building abilities along with his passion for and command of an extraordinarily broad range of music. All of these qualities were reflected in the three programs that he conceived, organized, and conducted with the Oakland Symphony.

“I am deeply honored and grateful for the opportunity to serve as the new music director of the Oakland Symphony,” Kedrick said. “As an African-American conductor, I find it humbling to stand on the shoulders of both Michael Morgan and Calvin Simmons, the most recent and the first African-American Music Directors of the Symphony. The Oakland Symphony community has embraced me with open arms since my first visit in 2022 and ‘The Town’ immediately felt like a place I wanted to call home. The board, administration, and I are already building a relationship guided by trust, collaboration, and innovation, deeply rooted in the transformative work that has been a part of the Oakland Symphony’s legacy for many decades.”

In making the decision to appoint Kedrick as Music Director, the Oakland Symphony was overwhelmed by his scholarship and curiosity about all kinds of music, from classical and jazz to gospel and hip-hop. He has already accomplished so much in his short career and all of his projects, collaborations, and performances have been impactful, innovative, and reflect his commitment to including underrepresented composers, works, and artists. Wherever Kedrick has been, he has inspired musicians, singers and audiences who are captivated by his presence, energy, openness, and his commitment to community and music education.

Kedrick brings a demonstrated commitment to advocacy and music education and will be active in the organization’s music education and community engagement programs such as the free Young People’s Concerts for students in grades K-8, the Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra, and the MUSE (Music for Excellence) program in public schools. These programs have helped over 100,000 young people unlock a passion for music. Of the orchestra’s approach to programming, Oaklandside wrote, “For over three decades, Oakland Symphony’s leaders have worked to diversify classical music by broadening its audience and broaching the questions that matter to communities historically excluded from prestigious arts institutions.”

Kedrick is the Creative Partner and Principal Conductor of the Knox-Galesburg Symphony and an alum of Chicago Sinfonietta’s Project Inclusion Freeman Conducting Fellow program, where he served as Assistant Conductor during the 2018-2019 season. In March 2017, while serving as Chicago Sinfonietta Freeman Conducting Fellow, he assisted Michael Morgan, who guest conducted the orchestra in March 2017.

Named by the Washington Post as one of “22 for ’22: Composers and performers to watch,” Kedrick uses his voice and platform to advocate for classical music’s performance, publication, and preservation of minority voices. This advocacy has led to various speaking engagements and a research fellowship with the American Music Research Center (University of Colorado-Boulder) studying Black female composers within the Helen Walker-Hill archives.

Kedrick’s recent highlights include debuting at the Lyric Opera of Chicago to premiere a new opera, The Factotum, by Will Liverman and K Rico. He also appeared at the Opera Theater of St. Louis as one of the festival’s assistant/cover conductors (Tosca, Susannah). Guest conducting engagements have included DePaul Opera Theater (Candide), and Chicago Opera Theater (Matthew Recio’s The Puppy Episode). He has also served as assistant conductor for Dan Shore’s Freedom Ride at Chicago Opera Theater and music director for Monteverdi’s L’Orfero with Wheaton College’s Opera Mainstage.

Kedrick spent several seasons as the music mentor/supervisor for “EmpowerYouth! Igniting Creativity through the Arts,” a unique collaboration with the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Chicago Urban League. He also enjoyed working with Ravinia Festival’s REACH*TEACH*PLAY, Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative, and Chicago Sinfonietta’s Audience Matters.

He holds a B.M. in History and Literature from Wheaton College and an M.M. in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Colorado-Boulder. He graduated from the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts & Humanities. Armstrong has studied with and assisted/covered conductors John Nelson, Mei-Ann Chen, Michael Morgan, Cliff Colnot, Lidiya Yankovskaya, and Daniela Candillari, among others.