Music instructor

Michael Lankester enjoys an eminent, international conducting career that also includes extensive work as a composer, arranger and commentator for projects in opera, theater and broadcasting.

In May 2000, he completed a highly successful tenure as Music Director of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and the Hartford Chamber Orchestra. His fifteen years with the HSO were notable for elevating the artistic standards of the orchestra, increasing its subscriber and donor bases and introducing several innovative series, among them “Classical Conversations” and “Saturday Family Matinees.” Hailed by one critic as ” the most articulate explicator and advocate of classical of music on the planet ….” his Classical Conversations series was a supreme triumph. Begun, originally, as a vehicle for the Hartford Chamber Orchestra, it grew as a natural extension of Michael Lankester’s highly popular pre-concert talks which were attracting between 1,600 and 1,800 audience members per program. Such was the success of Classical Conversations that it grew into a series for the full symphony orchestra which was then forced, by popular demand, into giving repeat performances of each program. His innovative and imaginative programming led to numerous sell-out concerts including the realisation of one of Serge Diaghilev’s unfulfilled plans for the Ballets Russes, involving the world premiere of Stravinsky’s original intentions for his opera/oratorio Oedipus Rex. This programme also included Beethoven’s Overture ‘The Creatures of Prometheus’, ‘Debussy’s ‘L’Apres Midi …’ and Ravel’s D & C – the original ballet designs (by Picasso, Bakst, Benois, Derain, Rouault, Matisse, etc) for which were then currently on show at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford. His fund-raising leadership on behalf of the orchestra culminated in the creation of the “Michael Lankester Fund” which became a focal point of the HSO’s 2000 Endowment Campaign.  He  returned to the orchestra this past season as a guest conductor.

Since leaving the HSO, Mr. Lankester has been active as as a guest conductor with the London Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Bulgarian National Radio Orchestra, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Costa Rica, and the orchestras of Seattle, Syracuse, Indianapolis, S W Florida, Edmonton, etc. His close work with chamber orchestras has continued with concerts for the Shakespeare Society of New York, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and numerous other ensembles.  This season, he will return to the Syracuse Symphoria Orchestra as conductor.

Mr. Lankester made his American debut in 1980 with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. During an eight-year association with that orchestra – first as Assistant Conductor, then as Associate Conductor and finally as Conductor-in-Residence – he led subscription, education and tour concerts and directed its contemporary music series, “Music Here and Now.” During the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons, he returned to lead “Meet the Classics,” a three-concert series devoted to, respectively, Mozart and Tchaikovsky.

As a guest conductor, Michael Lankester has led many of North America’s most distinguished ensembles, among them The Cleveland Orchestra, The National Symphony Orchestra and the symphony orchestras of Detroit, Fort Worth, Indianapolis, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, South Dakota, Syracuse, Edmonton, Montréal and Ottawa as well as the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Costa Rica and Mexico’s Orquesta Filarmónica de la UNAM. Of special note is his long-standing association with The Toronto Symphony Orchestra, to which he returns on a regular basis. He has also been heard at Connecticut’s famed “Summer Music at Harkness” festival, with piano soloist Jon Nakamatsu. He has conducted performances of the New York City Ballet and London Symphony Orchestra, with which he recorded an album of Wieniawski concerti and polonaises with violinist Min Lee.

In his native England, Michael Lankester has conducted the London Symphony Orchestra (with which he has also recorded for Argo Records), Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra and English Chamber Orchestra.