Rapidly rising conductor Michelle Merrill is the newly appointed Music Director of the Coastal Symphony of Georgia, having served four years as the Associate Conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, where she also carried the title of Phillip and Lauren Fisher Community Ambassador. A passionate and dynamic artist, Merrill was named as one of Hour Detroit Magazine’s 3 Cultural Organization Leaders to Watch in 2015, and was profiled by the Ford Motor Co. for their website fordbetterworld.org.
Merrill’s most recent and upcoming engagements include the Orchestre national d’Ile-de-France, Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Toledo Symphony Orchestra, Princeton Symphony Orchestra, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, West Virginia Symphony, Orlando Philharmonic, Symphoria (Syracuse), and Round Top Music Festival Institute. In past seasons, she has conducted concerts with the Jacksonville Symphony, Louisiana Philharmonic, Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera, Boise Philharmonic, New Music Detroit, and the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, where she formerly served as Assistant Conductor.
During her four year tenure as the Associate Conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, she helped plan a wide variety of concerts each season, including the renowned educational webcasts, which have reached over 100,000 students to date in classrooms throughout the nation. Merrill also gave pre-concert lectures, led adult music education seminars, engaged with students in and around Metro Detroit, spoke on behalf of the DSO throughout the community, and participated in hosting Live from Orchestra Hall, the DSO’s free concert webcast that launched in 2011 and is now watched in more than 100 countries. She made her classical subscription debut with the DSO in April 2016 to great acclaim, and the following season led the world premiere performance of Gabriela Lena Frank’s “Walkabout: Concerto for Orchestra.”
A strong advocate of new music, Merrill recently conducted three Joan Tower works at the Round Top Music Festival Institute in celebration of the composer’s 80th birthday, featuring soloists Carol Wincenc on flute and Brett Deubner on viola. In June 2015, she made her debut at the St. Augustine Music Festival conducting the world-premiere performance of Piotr Szewcyzk’s “St. Augustine Suite” which was written in honor of that city’s 450th anniversary. The highly praised performance was later featured nationwide on NPR’s “Performance Today”. Additionally, her work in the 2011/12 season with Voices of Change, Dallas’s professional contemporary music ensemble, was part of a program later named as one of Dallas Morning News critic Scott Cantrell’s Top Ten Classical Performances of 2011.
Merrill is a proud recipient of a 2016 Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award as well as the prestigious 2013 Ansbacher Conducting Fellowship as awarded by members of the Vienna Philharmonic and the American Austrian Foundation, which enabled her to be in residence at the world-renowned Salzburg Festival.
Born in Dallas, TX, Ms. Merrill studied conducting with Dr. Paul C. Phillips at Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts, where she holds a Master of Music Degree in conducting and a Bachelor of Music in performance. Apart from music, she loves cooking, running, hiking, and spending time with her husband, Steve Merrill, who serves as the principal percussionist of the Jacksonville Symphony, and their toddler son, Davis.
[December 2018. Please update any undated or previously dated materials.]