David Milnes serves as Music Director of the Eco Ensemble, Berkeley’s professional new music ensemble in residence, as well as Music Director of the UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra. In his early years, he studied piano, organ, clarinet, cello and voice, and briefly entertained a career as a jazz pianist, appearing with Chuck Mangione, Gene Krupa, Billy Taylor and John Pizzarelli. He received advanced degrees in conducting from SUNY Stony Brook and the Yale School of Music, studying with Charles Rosen, Otto-Werner Müller, Herbert Blomstedt, Erich Leinsdorf and Leonard Bernstein, and then won the prestigious Exxon Conductor position with the San Francisco Symphony at age 27. He also served as Music Director of the highly acclaimed San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra which he led on its first European tour in 1986.

Mr. Milnes has conducted frequently in Russia and the Baltics, serving as Music Director of the Riga Independent Opera Company and as a principal guest conductor of the Latvian National Symphony. Recent engagements have included appearances with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Nice at the MANCA Festival; in Mexico at the International Festival "El Callejón del Ruido" with the Guanajauto Symphony Orchestra; in Argentina with Ensemble 34, and in Russia with the Novosibirsk Symphony Orchestra. He has collaborated in performances with Pinchas Zukerman, Chanticleer, Frederica von Stade, Dawn Upshaw, Anna Netrebko, Bill T. Jones, and Paul Hillier, and has appeared at the Santa Fe, Tanglewood, Aspen, Other Minds and Monadnock music festivals.

A dedicated proponent of new music, Mr. Milnes has led many performances with Earplay, the Empyrean Ensemble, Composers Inc., and the Left Coast Ensemble. As Music Director of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players he commissioned and premiered new works from around the world from such composers as Phillipe Leroux, Liza Lim, Edmund Campion, Shulamit Ran, Zhou Long, Kui Dong, Earl Kim and Cindy Cox. With the ECO Ensemble he has conducted works by Pierre Boulez, Giorgi Ligeti, Jonathan Harvey, Beat Furrer, Harrison Birtwistle, Franck Bedrossian, Andrew Imbrie, and Ivan Fedele. In September 2014 he led the ECO Ensemble in concerts at the Venice Biennale in Italy. He has made recordings of music by John Anthony Lennon, James Newton, Edmund Campion, Jorge Liderman and Pablo Ortiz.

David Milnes became a Professor in the Department of Music at Berkeley in 1996 after holding posts at SUNY Purchase and Southern Methodist University, as well as teaching at the Juilliard School, the Curtis Institute, the Mannes School and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. A noted teacher of conducting, his students have held posts around the world.

In addition to his many performing activities he indulges in his first musical love by teaching a popular course in jazz history each summer.

[from program for January 19, 2015 concert]