Laura Jackson–in her eighth season as music director of the Reno Phil–continues to win praise for her inspiring leadership, innovative programming and passionate community engagement. With the help of first-rate musicians, choir, staff, board members, volunteers and community supporters, Laura captivates audiences and brings local and national recognition to Reno’s premier orchestra.
Her passion and drive have helped the Reno Phil reach new heights with the commission and world premiere in March 2013 of Chesapeake: Summer of 1814 by composer Michael Gandolfi, combining orchestra and full chorus with on-stage visuals and direction by artist Anne Patterson. Following its premiere, the unforgettable work was performed across the country leading up to the 200th anniversary of The Star-Spangled Banner on September 14, 2014. In addition, Ms. Jackson led the commission and recording of the first orchestral-choral arrangements of Nevada’s state song, Home Means Nevada, as a gift to the state in honor of its sesquicentennial in October 2014.
Ms. Jackson guest conducts nationally and internationally as well as in Reno. Recent engagements include the east coast premiere of Daron Hagen’s Three Sky Interludes at the Wintergreen Festival in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and an invitation from the U.S. State Department to be the first-ever American to lead the Algerian National Orchestra. Ms. Jackson has also performed with the Philippine Philharmonic and toured through Brittany with L’Orchestre de Bretagne. 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, Hartford, 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, Ms. Jackson 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 transferring to the North Carolina School for the Arts to finish high school. Ms. Jackson 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.