LAURA JACKSON — now in her ninth season as music director of the Reno Philharmonic — continues to win praise for her artistry, leadership, innovative programming, and creative community engagement. 

Her passion and drive have helped the Reno Philharmonic in Nevada reach new heights with the commissions of composers Zhou Tian, Michael Gandolfi (Chesapeake: Summer of 1814), and Sean Shepherd (Silvery Rills & Desert Garden). In 2014, Laura and the orchestra commissioned and recorded the first-ever orchestral arrangement of the Nevada state song to celebrate Nevada's sesquicentennial. By David Bugli, the arrangement is available for free download and has been performed by school and community orchestras around the state.

In addition to concerts with the Reno Philharmonic, Ms. Jackson guest conducts nationally and internationally. In May 2013 she became the first-ever American to lead the Algerian National Orchestra; other recent engagements include L’Orchestre de Bretagne in France and the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition, she recorded Michael Daugherty’s Time Cycle on Naxos with the Bournemouth Symphony in partnership with Marin Alsop. In North America, she has performed with the symphonies of Alabama, Atlanta, Baltimore, Berkeley, Detroit, Phoenix, San Antonio, Toledo, Toronto, Windsor, and Winnipeg, among others.

Ms. Jackson served as the Assistant Conductor/American Conducting Fellow with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under Robert Spano from 2004 to 2007. Prior to her appointment in Atlanta, she studied conducting at the University of Michigan with Kenneth Kiesler and spent summers at the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood Music Center in 2002 and 2003. As the Seiji Ozawa Conducting Fellow at Tanglewood, she conducted numerous concerts featuring both traditional and contemporary repertoire.

Ms. Jackson spent her early childhood in Virginia and Pennsylvania before moving at age 11 to Plattsburgh, NY, where she grew up waterskiing, swimming, and sailing on Lake Champlain. She fell in love with the violin in public school, later attending the North Carolina School for the Arts to finish high school. She pursued an undergraduate degree at Indiana University where she studied both violin and conducting before moving to Boston in 1990 to freelance as a violinist and teach at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. She won her first conducting position in 1992 with the Nashua Chamber Orchestra and served as music director there until 1998. In 2005, she earned her doctorate in orchestral conducting from Michigan. While in Ann Arbor, she served as Music Director of the Life Sciences Orchestra, made up of doctors, researchers, students, and staff of the university’s life sciences community.

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Credit: Jeff Dow