Isaiah Jackson became Conductor Emeritus of the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston after serving as its third Music Director from 2000 to 2007. He has led many distinguished American orchestras over the years, including the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the symphony orchestras of Cleveland, Houston, Dallas, Toronto, San Francisco, Detroit, and Indianapolis, as well as the Boston Pops, Grant Park Festival Orchestra, Calgary Philharmonic, Louisville Orchestra, and National Symphony (Washington, DC). While still a student at The Juilliard School of Music, Jackson was engaged as Leopold Stokowski’s assistant with the American Symphony Orchestra and named Music Director of the New York Youth Symphony. He later held posts with the orchestras of Baltimore and Rochester.
Born in 1945 in Richmond, Virginia, Jackson is a cum laude graduate of Harvard, where he majored in Russian history and literature. He holds graduate degrees from Stanford University and The Juilliard School of Music. He has also studied at Fontainebleau, Aspen, and Tanglewood. At Harvard, he is a Fellow in the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute.
Jackson made his European orchestral debut with the Vienna Symphony in July 1973. During that summer he served at Leonard Bernstein’s suggestion as Artistic Director of Vienna’s Youth Music Festival. He became the first American to hold a major post at Covent Garden when he was appointed Principal Conductor and, later, Music Director of The Royal Ballet. In Europe, he also conducted the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the BBC Concert Orchestra, the Helsinki Philharmonic, the Malmø and Gaevleborg Symphonies, the Czech Symphonic Orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and the R.A.I. Orchestra in Rome. Jackson has served as Principal Guest Conductor of the Queensland and Canberra Symphony Orchestras in Australia and was the first person of color to conduct the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra.
Isaiah Jackson has made several recordings with the Berlin Symphony of string music by the film composers Bernard Herrmann, Miklós Rózsa, and Franz Waxman for Koch International Classics (KIC); dance music of William Grant Still (KIC); and a live-performance CD of the orchestra’s New Year’s Eve concert for European Sony. His recording of Waxman’s Sinfonia is included on For the Fallen, a Koch International Classics CD that benefits the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund.
Jackson’s contributions to the music field have been recognized through many awards and honors, including the Signet Society Medal for Achievements in the Arts, awarded by the Signet Society of Harvard University. Past recipients of the medal include Robert Lowell, T. S. Eliot, and Robert Frost.