GEOFFREY POPE has been recognized through numerous appointments and commissions as a conductor and composer. Pope received his undergraduate degree in composition at the University of Southern California. He received master’s degrees in composition and conducting at the Eastman School of Music, where he was awarded the prestigious Walter Hagen Conducting Prize. In 2017, he completed his doctorate in conducting at the University of California, Los Angeles. A proponent of contemporary music and opera, Pope seeks to present provocative and engaging programs that have a strong cultural impact.
As a conductor, Pope has appeared with a number of ensembles throughout the United States and Europe. In 2017, he conducted Son of Chamber Symphony for the composer at UCLA’s symposium Inside the (G)Earbox: John Adams @ 70. His 2016 work includes conducting a performance of Opera UCLA’s Così fan tutte, the Britten Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings with tenor Thomas Thompson and hornist Rachel O’Connor, and the first English-language production of Sweeney Todd in Budapest. His 2015 engagements included the premiere of Jason Barabba’s Lettere da Triggiano oratorio with the What’s Next? Ensemble and members of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, as well as a multimedia concert performance of Osvaldo Golijov’s Ayre with soprano Terri Richter at the Hammer Museum. Pope made his European conducting debut in 2015 with the Pleven Philharmonic (Bulgaria), leading workshop performances of Dvorak, Elgar, and Barber. Prior work includes performances of Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire with the Experimental Playground Ensemble throughout the Denver Metropolitan Area, including at the famed jazz club Dazzle, to great acclaim. From 2010-2012, Pope served as Assistant Conductor of Musica Nova, Eastman’s renowned contemporary music group, and has prepared ensembles for eminent conductors Brad Lubman, Jeffrey Milarsky, and Alan Pierson, in addition to working with Eastman resident composers Oliver Knussen, Steven Stucky and Tristan Murail. He is the Founding Music Director of the Sound ExChange Orchestra, an ensemble devoted to presenting concerts of standard and new repertoire in unorthodox settings to encourage audience interaction with performers and inspire a new generation of listeners. Pope has appeared with the OSSIA New Music ensemble, the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra, and has functioned as Music Director for the Eastman Graduate Composers’ Sinfonietta. In 2010, he recorded Benjamin Boretz’ Violin Concerto with Tchaikovsky Medalist Charles Castleman, for the Open Space label. While at USC, Pope founded the Starving Composers’ Ensemble, some of whose recorded performances were broadcast on Classical KUSC 91.5. He also conducted the premiere of his chamber opera, The Stone House, with the Chamber Opera of USC, and served as Assistant Conductor for the USC Thornton Contemporary Music Ensemble in 2007 and 2008. The following year, he conducted a new production of Dido and Aeneas in Wichita, Kansas, directed by Kazakh performance artist Timur Bekbosunov. Recent engagements include concerts with the Aurora Symphony Orchestra, the Playground Ensemble, and the University of Denver Lamont Symphony Orchestra. In October of 2013, Pope made his first conducting debut in Boston, with Opera Brittenica’s new production of The Rape of Lucretia, as part of the worldwide Benjamin Britten Centenary celebrations, with “energy and flair” (Boston Classical Review), conducting a “warm and expressive rendering of Britten’s complicated score” (Boston Musical Intelligencer). Pope’s past conducting teachers have included Neal Stulberg, Brad Lubman, Neil Varon, and Mark Davis Scatterday.
While completing his doctoral studies, Pope was co-conductor, manager, and librarian of the UCLA Symphony from 2014-2017. He has led UCLA Philharmonia and Opera UCLA on several occasions, including in a lecture-recital featuring music of Richard Wagner and Bernard Herrmann, for which he composed a companion piece. He also regularly conducted Flux, UCLA’s new music ensemble led by eminent pianist and professor Gloria Cheng. In 2016, he performed with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz for musical luminaries including Herbie Hancock and Kenny Burrell. His scholarly interests include Viennese music of the early twentieth century, and the role of diegetic music in the evolution of sonic spatialization. His doctoral dissertation, Auf der Bühne, addresses the evolving role of instrumental music written to be performed onstage (Bühnenmusik, or banda) in German language opera, and the coordination issues involved in its execution and synchronization with the orchestra pit. Pope’s recordings have been published internationally in Perspectives of New Music, as well as by the Open Space label (USA). His musical work has been featured on radio stations including Classical KUSC, Colorado Public Radio, and Southern California Public Radio.
As a composer, Pope has enjoyed performances by various ensembles and individuals worldwide. In 2007, the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra performed his work in Prague, Budapest and Leipzig. His solo viola piece, Disembarking, was commissioned by playwright E. M. Lewis for her Song of Extinction, and was hailed as “the most amazing element of all” by the Santa Monica Daily Press. In 2008, his commemorative work, Srebrenica Fields, was performed at the Summer Brass Institute in Atherton, California, and in 2010, his music was performed by flutist Catherine Branch at the Kennedy Center’s VSA Festival. In 2012, his setting of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s Ring Out, Wild Bells, awarded second prize in the Hazel Renshaw Carol Competition, was performed by the Music Makers of London in the historic St. Sepulchre-without-Newgate chapel. Later that year, Pope premiered Radium & sky, written in memory of the Aurora theater shooting victims, with the Aurora Symphony Orchestra. The piece was subsequently featured on Colorado Public Radio’s Colorado Matters series and on Morning Edition. In 2013, Pope received Third Place from The American Prize for his chamber orchestra work, Votive, described by judges as “intimate, contained, ritual music that moves in a very ‘human’ progress—almost as if strands of thought come forward, linger in examination and then dissipate.” Most recently, Pope premiered his Overture Noir at his doctoral lecture-recital with the UCLA Philharmonia and guest musicians. Pope’s former composition teachers include Donald Crockett, Tamar Diesendruck, and Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon. He also studied with composer and electroacoustic music pioneer Allan Schindler, for whom he was a teaching assistant at the Eastman Computer Music Center. His current project, Sarajevo Vespers, is an opera based on a true story of events in the Bosnian War, with a libretto by forensic archaeologist and novelist Courtney Angela Brkić.
Résumé can be found here.
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Last updated January 2018