One of today’s most prodigious conductors and musicians, Roger Malouf has found the best of both worlds in his still young career: a position as Assistant Conductor at the Metropolitan Opera, which he has held since 2001, and as a symphonic conductor to some of the world’s noted symphonies and orchestras.
During his tenure at the Met, he has enjoyed a close association with members of its prestigious orchestra, conducting their solos in Wagner’s famous Ring Cycle and in other repertoire. He has also performed under the direction of some of the opera world’s most celebrated artists, including James Levine, Fabio Luisi, Valery Gergiev, Sir Simon Rattle, Lorin Maazel, Julius Rudel, and Plácido Domingo.
His impressive accomplishments have also included backstage conducting responsibilities for the Met premières of War and Peace and Satyagraha, the new productions of Don Carlo, Parsifal, and Hansel and Gretel, and major revivals of Madama Butterfly, Tosca, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Rusalka, Moses und Aron, Die Meistersinger and Billy Budd. In addition, He has served as an adjudicator for the prominent Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Not surprisingly, Mr. Malouf began his fascination with music and the piano at the young age of six. He began his piano studies the following year, before graduating to the violin and clarinet, perfecting each throughout his childhood.
Having taken on the role of concertmaster of his junior high school orchestra in his native California, he discovered the joy of conducting symphonic and orchestral pieces, and found he had a natural talent for this as well. He went on to win competitions with the Glendale Symphony Orchestra and the San Bernardino Symphony, the latter earning him a performance as concerto soloist. “I found that working with orchestral repertoire was like listening to music in Technicolor,” he says, “or like painting with sound, having a thousand different colors from which to select.”
After earning an undergraduate degree from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Mr. Malouf moved to Vienna to work and study in the Austrian capital. Upon returning to Los Angeles three years later, he earned a graduate degree from the University of Southern California, and was immediately hired as a coach and accompanist at his former alma mater, UCLA. His talents and commitment to its programs soon earned him the University’s Special Performance Award in recognition of meritorious service to its Music Department.
As keyboardist with the American Youth Symphony, also in Los Angeles, he added greater dimension to his symphonic conducting capabilities. He also played piano, harpsichord, and celeste in a wide range of orchestral repertoire under the direction of conductor Mehli Mehta, father of Zubin Mehta.
Under the tutelage of Aube Tzerko, a student of the great German pianist Artur Schnabel, Mr. Malouf developed a passion for the symphonic works of the German and Austrian masters: Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann and Brahms. “This led to my learning to speak the languages of the great composers, including German, Italian, French, Russian, and Czech, which, in turn, helped enormously in my future endeavors, especially at the Met,” says Mr. Malouf.
Mr. Malouf is just as adept at conducting orchestral music, and even musical theater. His interest in American music began while performing at California’s Ojai Festival, an interest that gained further momentum upon becoming Assistant Music Director for Mississippi’s Natchez Music Festival from 1994 to 2001. During this time, he conducted the critically acclaimed productions of Big River and She Loves Me.
“This was an amazing experience for me,” he explains. “Having lived and loved the music of the great masters for so long, I found that conducting popular music was exciting and rewarding.”
It was also during this period that he studied orchestral repertoire with Ken Kiesler and Daniel Lewis at the University of Hartford's Conductors Institute and continued his studies at Kiesler's Conductors Retreat in Maine. He also found work on a production of L'Elisir d'Amore with the Mobile Opera in Alabama.
Throughout his career, Mr. Malouf has found great pleasure in teaching, coaching, and mentoring young or new artists, helping to uncover opportunities for them to develop and showcase their talents. In 1989, while still a coach and accompanist at UCLA, he founded the West Side Opera, a workshop designed to give singers a platform for learning and performing complete operas.
Several years later, upon relocating to New York City, he rekindled the workshop on a larger scale, conducting many of its operas himself, while also serving on the staff of the New York City Opera and The Juilliard School.
When not teaching or coaching, he was conductor for a number of New York’s opera companies, including The Little Opera Theatre of New York (La Finta Giardiniera), the Brooklyn Repertory Opera (Le Nozze di Figaro, il Tabarro, Hansel and Gretel), and the Trinity Wall Street Concert Series (Die Fledermaus, Zaide, Il Signor Bruschino, Don Quichotte, Façade).
Mr. Malouf has had the rare opportunity to play for master classes given by opera greats Martina Arroyo, Sherrill Milnes, Gérard Souzay and Anna Moffo, “the first artist to address me as Maestro,” he remembers. Additionally, he has accompanied recitals at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall, and has served on the faculty of the American Institute for Musical Studies (AIMS) in Austria, Portland State University's Deutsche Sommerschule am Pazifik, and the Vocal Institute at the University of California in Santa Barbara.
While continuing his conducting responsibilities at the Met, Mr. Malouf also holds the position of Co-Director of the Mannes College of Music Extension Division Opera Workshop, where he has coached and conducted scenes from a wide range of operatic repertoire since 2005. He is also a vocal coach and conducting instructor at the Bel Canto Institute in Florence, Italy, having mentored young conductors, singers, and instrumentalists there for the past eight years.