Robert Duerr, music director
American Conductor Robert Duerr made his debut with the Metropolitan Opera in September
1989 with Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. He has returned to the company in subsequent seasons to
conduct Bellini’s I puritani and Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, as well as repeat performances of Porgy and Bess. In the spring of 1995, Mr. Duerr was invited back to Lincoln Center to make his New York City Opera debut conducting Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. In June of that year he also led the NYCO on tour at the Saratoga and Wolf Trap festivals conducting Verdi’s La
traviata. During the company’s 1995-96 Lincoln Center season, Mr. Duerr led additional
performances of La traviata, as well as a new production of Puccini’s La bohème, Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler, and the American premiere of Jost Meier’s The Dreyfus Affair. Amid his Lincoln Center engagements, Mr. Duerr also conducted the Great Buffalo Opera Company’s new production of La bohème.
In the summer of l996, Mr. Duerr led the New York City Opera tour to the Saratoga Festival with
La bohème. He reprised the opera during the company’s 1996-97 Lincoln Center season while
also conducting new productions of Benjamin Britten’s Turn of the Screw and Offenbach’s Les
contes d’Hoffmann. In January 1997, Mr. Duerr opened The Juilliard School’s Focus Festival
conducting the Juilliard Symphony in a concert at Alice Tully Hall. He participated again in the
School’s Focus Festival in January 1998, this time conducting the Juilliard Philharmonic. Also
during 1998, Mr. Duerr made his debut conducting the Cosmopolitan Symphony of New York,
and the San Francisco Symphony. He has also conducted benefit concerts for the Long Island
Philharmonic and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s.
During the summer of 1992, Mr. Duerr made his orchestral debut with the Buffalo Philharmonic,
and his Wolf Trap Opera debut conducting Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. Soon after, he accepted a
guest residency with the Freiburger Theater in Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Germany, where he led
performances of Carmen, La bohème, and Cosi fan tutte during the company’s 1992-93 season.
He returned to the States in June 1993 to perform Rossini’s Le Comte Ory at the Spoleto Festival
USA, having conducted the Young Conductors’ Concert five years earlier. In the fall of 1993, Mr.
Duerr traveled to Norway to conduct Puccini’s Turandot at Opera Bergen, and in the following
spring, led Il viaggio a Reims by Rossini in Basel, Switzerland, and Wagner’s Lohengrin in
Robert Duerr is the first conductor to become a member of the Young Artist Development
Program at the Metropolitan Opera, having joined the music staff of the Met in 1988 as an
assistant conductor. From 1986 through 1988 he was associate conductor of the Los Angeles
Opera, where he led productions of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Gilbert & Sullivan’s
The Mikado, and the community outreach tour of Rossini’s La Cenerentola. He has also
conducted the Los Angeles Master Chorale.
Mr. Duerr has been active as a coach to singers, choral and instrumental conductors, and
organists. He has served on the faculty of the Bel Canto Institute held at the State University of
New York at New Paltz, and has been consultant for Theology Through the Arts, Cambridge.
A native of North Tonawanda, New York, Robert Duerr graduated from the University of
Southern California, where he received a Bachelor of Music degree in organ performance in
1977 (studying with Ladd Thomas and Cherry Rhodes), and a Master of Music degree in
orchestral conducting in 1980 (studying with Daniel Lewis). For two seasons he conducted the
University of Southern California Opera, leading performances of Haydn’s Orlando Paladino,
Britten’s Albert Herring, and Mozart’s Die Zaberflöte and Don Giovanni. He also conducted the
USC Chamber Orchestra. Further orchestral conducting studies were at the Tanglewood Festival
(with Leonard Bernstein and Seiji Ozawa), the Curtis Institute of Music (with Sergiu
Celibidache), and the American Conservatory in Fontainbleau. Further choral conducting study
included work with Robert Shaw, Howard Swan, and Helmut Rhilling.
In 1976, Robert Duerr won first place in the American Guild of Organists national organ playing
competition. The winner of numerous other organ competitions and honors, Mr. Duerr has been
active as an organist and church musician, including serving as Organist and Choirmaster of All
Saint’s Church, Pasadena, California, and Director of Music and Organist of Great St. Mary’s—
The University Church, Cambridge, England. While there he formed the ensemble Musica
Sacra. As an organ recitalist, he has recently performed at West Point Military Academy, and St.
John’s College, Cambridge.
Mr. Duerr founded the Pasadena Chamber Orchestra in 1977, serving as its Music Director for
nine years. He also established the Pasadena Chamber Orchestra Chorus, then the only fully paid
professional chorus in Southern California. The orchestra and chorus presented innovated
programs specializing in Baroque and Classical repertoire (played “authentically” on modern
instruments) and first performances of over 35 compositions, most which were commissioned.
Mr. Duerr has received seven national awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors
and Publishers (ASCAP) for his adventuresome programming of contemporary music. In 1980,
Mr. Duerr founded and was Artistic Director of the Pasadena Festival of Composers, an annual
weekend, which over five years, explored the music of Mozart, Vivaldi, Haydn, Mendelssohn,
and Schubert with orchestral and choral concerts, sacred music in the context of worship,
chamber music, master classes, and lectures involving international artists and speakers. Mr.
Duerr is successful at community and business relations, and with fund-raising major gifts.
In the summer of 2001, Mr. Duerr graduated from Ridley Hall, Cambridge, with a Certificate in
Theology for Ministry awarded by the Divinity Faculty of Cambridge University. During his
time in Cambridge, he pursued Theology Through the Arts studies with Jeremy Begbie. In June,
2004, Mr. Duerr was ordained Deacon in the Church of England and served as Curate at Great
St. Mary’s—The University Church, Cambridge. In July, 2006, Mr. Duerr was ordained Priest in
the Diocese of York. He recently completed his curacy in the Parishes of St. Martin-on-the-Hill
and St. Saviour in Scarborough, England, where he attracted many people to his weekly Music &
Meditation. An advocate for the creative combination of music and theology, Mr. Duerr has
preached and lectured in churches and colleges in the York Diocese, Cambridge, Oxford, and