Meet Jonathan Yates, Norwalk Symphony Orchestra Music Director


Jonathan Yates is the seventh Music Director of the Norwalk Symphony Orchestra in its seventy-six year history. He he has been a driving force in reinvigorating the relationship between the symphony and its community, having inaugurated the NSO Free Chamber Concert Series, revived the orchestra’s popular (Not) Just for Kids Educational Outreach programs, and started collaborations with numerous local cultural, religious and civic organizations. He made his professional orchestral conducting debut at 23, leading the National Symphony Orchestra in a Millennium Stages Concert. The following year he made his Carnegie Hall debut as a pianist in the Isaac Stern Chamber Music Workshop. As Music Director of the Norwalk Youth Symphony, he has led that ensemble on successful tours to Spain, Germany, Carnegie Hall, and Tanglewood. 

Jonathan recently completed his first season as Musical Director of Music Mountain, a preeminent chamber music festival in the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut. The New Yorker praised his first year, saying, “The longtime festival’s programming has been given a welcome jolt with the arrival of a new director, the pianist and conductor Jonathan Yates.” He has collaborated as a pianist and conductor with many of the country’s most respected musicians, including Midori, Kim Kashkashian, David Finckel, Charles Neidich, Ida Kavafian, Colin Carr, Gilbert Kalish, Paul Neubauer, Joseph Lin, and William Purvis; and the Avalon, Daedalus and Pacifica Quartets. He has been heard as a chamber musician at the 92nd Street Y, Miller Theater, Bargemusic and Merkin Hall, as well as at the Caramoor Festival and on the Ravinia Festival Rising Stars Series. As an ardent devotee of the music of our time, he has conducted new music concerts with the Argento Chamber Ensemble and the Knights, was the recipient of an ASCAP award for adventurous programming, and has given local and regional premieres of pre-eminent composers including Augusta Read Thomas, Huang Ruo, Zhou Long, Chester Biscardi, and Chen Yi.

Jonathan received his Graduate Diploma in conducting from the Juilliard School, where he studied with James DePreist and Otto-Werner Mueller, and was the holder of the Bruno Walter Memorial Scholarship. He received his Master of Music from State University of New York, where he worked with Gilbert Kalish, and his Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University, where he studied with Robert Levin. He serves as Music Director Emeritus of Camerata Notturna, a chamber orchestra in New York City, and has also served on the faculty of Sarah Lawrence College. He descends from a family that has been on the forefront of the battles for the cultural and humanistic life of our country. His grandfather, U. S. Representative Sidney R. Yates, was the principal defender of the National Endowment for the Arts in his 48 years in Congress, and his father, the Honorable Stephen R. Yates, was the first judge in Illinois to approve same-sex adoption.