Edwin Outwater is a truly visionary conductor. Regularly working with orchestras and institutions throughout the world, he produces, curates and conducts distinctive concert experiences. He is equally adept at interpreting canonical works, and regularly premieres new commissions and connects audiences with repertoire beyond the mainstream. He is, in the words of Michael Tilson Thomas, “one of the most innovative conductors on the scene today.”
In September 2020, Outwater began his tenure as music director of San Francisco Conservatory of Music and will continue to make regular returns to the San Francisco Symphony, New World Symphony, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony and Virginia Symphony, as well as Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, where he holds the position of music director laureate.
Recent guest performance highlights include New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra, as well as the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Houston and Seattle. In Canada, he has led the National Arts Centre Orchestra and the symphonies of Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Victoria. International appearances include the Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra, Tokyo Symphony, Kyoto Symphony, Nagoya Philharmonic, BBCNOW, Brussels Philharmonic, New Zealand Symphony, Adelaide Symphony, Malmö Symphony, Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, Mexico City Philharmonic, Orquesta Sinfónica de Xalapa and Hong Kong Sinfonietta. A prolific opera conductor, Outwater also regularly works with Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Outwater has a long association with the San Francisco Symphony. The 2019-20 season began with a hugely successful collaboration between the orchestra, Outwater and legendary metal band Metallica to celebrate the opening of the new Chase Center arena. He also regularly conducts and curates the ensemble's SoundBox series; has conducted and hosted“Holiday Gaiety,” an LGBTQ holiday concert he created with drag performer Peaches Christ for the past three seasons; was the music director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, conducting it on many occasions, including a high-profile European tour, and also served as San Francisco Symphony's director of summer concerts.
Outwater’s recent curations include “Sound Health,” a collaboration with soprano Renée Fleming, the Kennedy Center and the National Institutes of Health, as well as a jazz version of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, with Wynton Marsalis, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He also appeared with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Carnegie Hall in a concert for families featuring a world premiere by composer Caroline Shaw, narrated by actor John Lithgow.
A native of Santa Monica, California, Outwater graduated cum laude in English literature from Harvard University, where he was music director of the Bach Society Orchestra and the a cappella group Harvard Din and Tonics, and wrote the music for the 145th annual production of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals. He received his degree in conducting from the University of California at Santa Barbara, where he studied with Heiichiro Ohyama and Paul Polivnick, besides studying music theory and composition with John Stewart, Joel Feigin and Leonard Stein.