Emil de Cou, conductor
The dynamic American conductor Emil de Cou became associate conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra in September 2003 and has been an active participant in a wide range of National Symphony performances and events since his debut at Wolf Trap in 2000. He has led the orchestra on residency tours in four states, in subscription concerts at the Kennedy Center and on the lawn of the Capitol.
In summer 2005, Mr. de Cou took up his newly-created position as NSO @ Wolf Trap Festival Conductor which includes conducting concerts in the NSO's Wolf Trap summer season, as well as presenting and promoting the entire Wolf Trap program for the media including radio commercials, interviews and so forth. His concerts at the Wolf Trap Pavilion were extremely successful and included a screening of the beloved film The Wizard of Oz with the movie score performed live by the National Symphony Orchestra. Mr. de Cou reprised this at the Ravinia Festival with the live music performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Other summer performances included concerts with the NSO at Carter Barron Amphitheatre and at the National Cathedral. In the 2005-06 season, Mr. de Cou continues his collaboration with the NSO commencing with the traditional Labor Day concert on the West Lawn of the Capitol and he leads the Orchestra in 4 performances of Handel's Messiah. He makes his Carnegie Hall debut guest conducting the New York Pops in a program of Italian operatic and symphonic repertoire. He also guest conducts the Southwest Florida Symphony and returns to the ballet world with a guest engagement with the New York City Ballet in their spring season. In the 2004-05 season he guest conducted the Honolulu and Oregon Symphonies, the Louisiana Philharmonic, and the National Gallery Symphony Orchestra in Washington D.C.
During the 2003-04 season, Mr. de Cou also conducted four performances of Handel's Messiah with the National Symphony in addition to his associate duties. He also guest conducted with the Abilene Philharmonic, the Annapolis Symphony and the Florida West Coast Symphony, and was the lecturer of the Kennedy Center Tchaikovsky Festival. NSO summer 2003 concerts included four separate Wolf Trap concerts: Viennese operetta, Big Band, Carmina Burana, and an all-Tchaikovsky program. In March 2003 he conducted an all-Russian subscription program with the NSO. The same spring Mr. de Cou conducted the Orchestra of St. Luke's and a stellar roster of soloists in a Gala Tribute to Beverly Sills as a benefit for Lincoln Center.
Emil de Cou has guest conducted major orchestras throughout North America including the symphony orchestras of Detroit, Montreal, Philadelphia, Houston, St. Louis, Hartford, Milwaukee, Chattanooga, Mobile, Sun Valley, San Jose, San Antonio, Oakland, Alabama, Minnesota, Utah, Indianapolis, and Columbus. He has also conducted the Boston Pops, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Kennedy Center Orchestra, the Orchestra of Chicago's Lyric Opera, and the New World Symphony. Mr. de Cou was principal pops conductor of the San Francisco Symphony for the 1995 and 1996 seasons.
In June 2003, Great Performances (PBS) aired the ballet Othello with the San Francisco Ballet led by Mr. de Cou. The music to Othello by Elliot Goldenthal, was recorded by Mr. de Cou for Varese Sarabande. Also recorded by de Cou is Debussy Rediscovered for Arabesque, which includes the world premiere recording of de Cou's reconstruction of the original 1887 version of Printemps-Suite Symphonique, for wordless chorus and orchestra. In July 2003 de Cou conducted the National Symphony in the world premiere performance of the same work at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. A champion of American music, Mr. de Cou has edited and performed several unpublished works by Charles T. Griffes including the world premiere recording of The Kairn of Koridwen, issued by Koch International.
Mr. de Cou was conductor of the San Francisco Ballet from 1993 until 2001 and acting music director from 1998. He was conductor of the American Ballet Theatre from 1985 to 1993. He has conducted ballet orchestras all over the world, including the English Chamber Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra, Scottish National Orchestra, the Tokyo Philharmonic, Polish Radio Orchestra, Royal Danish Opera Orchestra, Palermo Opera Orchestra, Mexico City Symphony and the national orchestras of Argentina, Holland and Romania. During the 1999-00 season, he conducted the San Francisco Ballet on tour to the Kennedy Center, Orange County (CA), as well as in London and Belfast. In the 2000-01 season, he conducted them on another tour to the Kennedy Center and also at the Palais Garnier in Paris.
In 1981, Mr. de Cou assumed the post of assistant conductor of the Young Musician's Foundation Debut Orchestra in Los Angeles and entered the graduate program of the University of Southern California. In 1982 he was the subject of a documentary on National Public Radio and in that summer, he was chosen from 200 candidates to study in Leonard Bernstein's master class at the Hollywood Bowl.
Emil de Cou was born in Los Angeles. His early training in horn and piano led to studies at age seventeen with Herbert Blomstedt after which he entered the Music Academy of Vienna. There, along with his studies in conducting and composition, he served as principal horn of the Baden State Theatre and of the Mozart Opera of Salzburg on its European tour. Subsequently, de Cou studied with Daniel Lewis in the graduate conducting program at the University of Southern California.