Larry Rachleff, former Music Director of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, passed away on August 8th in Houston, TX. He served as Music Director from 1996-2017 and conducted his final concerts with the orchestra in May 2017, his farewell as Music Director. That concert featured his wife, mezzo-soprano Susan Lorette Dunn.
During his tenure, he brought a quality and esteem to the RI Philharmonic Orchestra through his tireless focus on artistic quality and dedication to music education in public schools. The merger of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School was established in his years with the organization.
Rachleff was also the Walter Kris Hubert Professor of Orchestral Conducting and Music Director of the Shepherd School Symphony and Chamber Orchestras at Rice University in Houston, TX. From 2004- 2008, he was Music Director of the San Antonio Symphony. He was awarded honorary doctorates in music from both Roger Williams University and Providence College.
“For the second time in less than a month the RI Philharmonic family has been devastated by a loss. Larry Rachleff’s passing, so soon following that of Bramwell Tovey on July 12, further sorrows the soul of the Orchestra and Music School,” said David Beauchesne, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra and Music School. “Larry brought an intensity and vision that raised the Orchestra to new heights. His tireless focus on artistic quality, dedication to excellence, and advocacy for music education was embraced by orchestra, audience, and the greater Rhode Island community.”
“A take-charge maestro who invests everything he conducts with deep musical understanding” (Chicago Tribune), Rachleff was in constant demand as a guest conductor. Engagements included the Utah Symphony, Houston Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, Dayton Philharmonic and Toledo Symphony among many others.
Summer festival engagements include Tanglewood, Aspen, Interlochen, Chautauqua, Brevard Music Festival, Music Academy of the West, Opera Theatre of Lucca, Italy and the Grand Teton Music Festival. In 1993, he was selected as one of four American conductors to lead the Cleveland Orchestra at Carnegie Hall under the mentorship of Pierre Boulez.
Rachleff was an enthusiastic advocate of public school music education. He conducted All-State orchestras and festivals in virtually every state in the United States as well as throughout Europe and Canada. He has also served as principal conducting teacher for the American Symphony Orchestra League, the Conductors’ Guild, and the International Workshop for Conductors in the Czech Republic.
Rachleff lived in Houston with his wife, soprano Susan Lorette Dunn, and their young son, Sam.
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