Yuga Cohler takes over as RSO music director

After a search process that spanned two seasons and saw four exceptional finalists conduct concerts before large and enthusiastic audiences, the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra has named Yuga Cohler as the orchestra’s new Music Director.

Cohler will make his debut in his new role at the May 5, 2018 concert at Anne S. Richardson Auditorium at Ridgefield High School. The RSO Board of Directors appointed Maestro Cohler following the unanimous recommendation of the Music Director Search Committee comprised of RSO musician representatives, board members and executive director. The Search Committee received extensive input from surveys sent to RSO musicians and audience members following each of the finalists’ concerts.

October 2017 was a big month for Maestro Cohler. In addition to his RSO audition concert, he was one of four finalists in the Toscanini International Conducting Competition held in Parma, Italy, and won the Paolo Vero Orchestra Prize. He will be returning to Parma in March 2018 to conduct the Arturo Toscanini Philharmonic for a concert celebrating the 150th anniversary of Toscanini’s birth.

Currently the music director of the Young Musicians Foundation (YMF) Debut Chamber Orchestra, Maestro Cohler came to international prominence with his creation of Yeethoven, an orchestral concert comparing the works of Beethoven and Kanye West, which received widespread acclaim from such media outlets as TIME Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press, and Rolling Stone, and will be produced by Lincoln Center this month.

Maestro Cohler enjoys a close relationship with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom he has appeared in concert on Japanese national television. He recently completed a sold-out international tour with them featuring the international star Yoshiki, which concluded with two performances in Carnegie Hall. Cohler has additionally appeared as a guest conductor with the Juilliard and New Amsterdam Symphony Orchestras, and served as cover conductor for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

Among the accolades granted to Maestro Cohler are the Career Assistance Award from the Solti Foundation U.S., the Ansbacher Fellowship from the American Austrian Foundation, the Charles Schiff Conducting Award from the Juilliard School, and the David McCord Prize for Artistic Excellence from Harvard University. He has been awarded fellowships to some of the most prestigious musical institutions in the country, including the Aspen Music Festival and the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, and has additionally studied at the Tanglewood Music Center. Cohler is a graduate of Harvard University and the Juilliard School.

“Yuga Cohler brings extraordinary musical talent and conducting skills to the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra, as well as an exciting enthusiasm for the future of classical music”, says RSO Executive Director Laurie Kenagy. “His professionalism, communication and interpersonal skills are exceptional and, while he is familiar with Ridgefield, Yuga looks forward to getting to know the community better and working to engage and expand the RSO audience and patron base.” “I am honored to be chosen as the next Music Director of the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra”, says Cohler. “The RSO has a long history of musical excellence, and I am tremendously excited by the opportunity to help shape its future, both to serve the Ridgefield community and to explore the full range of roles the orchestra can play in American society today.”

The Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra is a professional orchestra founded in 1964 with the mission to enrich the cultural life of the citizens of Ridgefield and surrounding communities by presenting live orchestral concerts. The RSO also strives to increase the appreciation for music through community engagement and outreach programs for people of all ages and abilities.