Lawrence Rapchak is in his fifteenth season as Music Director of the Northbrook Symphony Orchestra (NSO), where he has presented numerous first Chicago area performances, including the Symphony No. 2 and Michelangelo Suite of Shostakovich, the Irish Rhapsody No. 4 of Stanford, the Hummel Piano Concerto in B Minor, the Panathenaenzug of Richard Strauss, Fredrick Delius's Appalachia (with the Roosevelt University Chorus), Moritz Moskowski's Piano Concerto, and the U.S. premiere of Othmar Schoeck's Sommernacht.
Beginning with the 2012-13 season, he embarked on a three-year initiative entitled "In Mahler's Shadow," in which the NSO offered Chicago-area premieres of major symphonies by friends and colleagues of Gustav Mahler. Last season's performance of Josef Foerster's Symphony No. 4 ("Easter Eve") was the North American premiere of the work. Of the NSO's 2013 performance of Hans Rott's Symphony in E Major, Chicago Tribune's music critic John von Rhein wrote "... Rapchak podium exhortations bore fruit in orchestra playing of remarkable power, brilliance and commitment."
Mr. Rapchak served for five seasons as Music Director of the Chicago Opera Theater, conducting the Chicago premieres of Berlioz's Beatrice and Benedict and Ullman's Der Kaiser von Atlantis as well as the company's acclaimed recording of Menotti's The Medium. Opera-the Rough Guide(London) said this of the recording: "...it is the tightness of the ensemble that makes this performance so rivetingly theatrical, and much of the praise should go to Lawrence Rapchak for his powerfully atmospheric direction."
Mr. Rapchak has served as Director of Educational Projects for the Chicago Philharmonic, conducting Stravinsky's complete Firebird ballet and Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique as part of the Ravinia Festival's Outreach program. He also led Copland's Appalachian Spring for Ravinia's Kraft Saturday Morning series. He has conducted outreach concerts for the Rochester (NY) Philharmonic, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and the Marion and Muncie (IN) orchestras, and has led the Czech Radio Orchestra of Prague and the Louisville Orchestra in concerts and recordings of his own works.
As a composer, Mr. Rapchak wrote his Saetas on commission from the Chicago Symphony, after which it was performed by the Helsinki Philharmonic and the Cincinnati Symphony. His music has also been performed by the Detroit Symphony, the Omaha Symphony, and the National Orchestral Association in Carnegie Hall. His opera The Lifework of Juan Diaz, based on a short story by Ray Bradbury, was premiered by Chamber Opera Chicago and released commercially on the Albany label. His most recent orchestral work, Becoming America, was performed twice during the NSO's 2011-12 season.
Mr. Rapchak is listed in the authoritative Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, and is currently in his 24th season as pre-concert speaker for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He lives in Whiting, Indiana with his wife Celeste and their four whippets, Macanudo, Lucille, Otis and Penny Pasta.