Maestro Michael Morgan

The Bear Valley Music Festival is devastated to let you know that Michael Morgan has died of complications from an infection following his May 2021 kidney transplant. He fought hard for his life in the Oakland Kaiser Hospital for over a week, but the infection was too serious and he succumbed on August 20, 2021.

Michael was born in Washington, DC, 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 has 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 fall of 2012, Maestro Morgan was named as the third Music Director of the Bear Valley Music Festival. In addition to his directorship at Oakland Symphony since 1991, Maestro Morgan serves as Artistic Director of the Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra and Music Director of Gateways Music Festival. He is Music Director Emeritus of the Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera, and is on the boards of Oaktown Jazz Workshops, the Purple Silk Music Education Foundation, and the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute.

In the summer of 2018, he led a national youth orchestra of students from El Sistema programs organized by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, sharing the concert with Gustavo Dudamel. He makes many appearances in the nation’s schools each year.