The 2016-2017 season marks 40 years since Michael Pratt came to Princeton to conduct the Princeton University Orchestra— a relationship that has resulted in the ensemble’s reputation as one of the finest university orchestras in the United States. Audiences and critics on both sides of the Atlantic have remarked not only on the Orchestra’s audacious programming, but also on the excellence of its performances.
Over the years, the Orchestra and Pratt have performed a remarkable variety of the orchestral literature, ranging from J.S.Bach’s orchestral suites, through Classical masterpieces such as Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Fidelio; the Romantic symphonies of Schubert, Schumann, and Brahms; to late-Romantic masterworks such as Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra and Ein Heldenleben and Mahler symphonies 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 9. Pratt has also led performances of canonic 20th-century landmarks, including Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Oedipus Rex, Petrushka; Berg’s Violin Concerto, Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloé and Debussy’s La Mer. He also has conducted numerous performances of works by Princeton faculty and student composers. He has led the orchestra on nine European tours, performing in such musical centers as London, Prague, Vienna, Munich, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Budapest, Barcelona and Madrid.
As Director of the Princeton University Opera Theater, Pratt has conducted a long list of masterworks with students and professionals, from operas by Mozart to Weber to Beethoven to Ravel to Puccini. In the past decade he has focused on the early Baroque operas of Monteverdi and Cavalli.
One of the chief architects of Princeton’s certificate Program in Musical Performance, Pratt has served as its director for over twenty years. He is also director of the Richardson Chamber Players at Princeton and teaches several performance and performance-related courses.
Pratt was educated at the Eastman School of Music and Tanglewood, and his teachers have included Gunther Schuller, Gustav Meier, Leonard Bernstein and Otto Werner Mueller. He was a founder of the Opera Festival of New jersey, and was also Music Director of the Delaware Valley Philharmonic for 21 years. He is currently Principal Conductor of American Repertory Ballet. He has also conducted the orchestras of Boston, Atlanta, Buffalo, Detroit, Indianapolis, and Odessa, Ukraine.