The 2017-2018 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.
Over the years, Pratt has guided many generations of Princeton students through a remarkable variety of orchestral and operatic literature, from early Baroque Italian opera, to Bach and Handel, to most of the Mozart canon, to Beethoven (both operatic and symphonic), through a broad range of 19th century Romantic literature (including all but two of Mahler’s symphonies), to Strauss tone poems and early Stravinsky ballets, and much of the now classic 20th century literature. He also has also conducted numerous performances of works by Princeton faculty, and literally dozens of student composers. He has led the Princeton University Orchestra on eleven European tours, performing in such musical centers as London, Dublin, Belfast, Prague, Vienna, Munich, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Budapest, Barcelona and Madrid, garnering stellar reviews. Under Pratt the PU
Orchestra has also participated in major campus collaborations such as the premieres of Prokofiev’s Le Pas d’Acier and Boris Godunov, a revival of Richard Strauss’s setting of the Molière classic, Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, and a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with all of Mendelssohn’s incidental music.
The chief architect of Princeton’s certificate Program in Musical Performance, Pratt has served as its director since its inception in 1991. This unique Program has received national attention, resulting in Princeton’s becoming a major destination for talented and academically gifted students. Pratt also established a partnership between Princeton and the Royal College of Music that every year sends Princeton students to study in London. He is also co-founder of the Richardson Chamber Players.
Pratt was educated at the Eastman School of Music and Tanglewood, and his teachers have included Gunther Schuller, Gustav Meier, 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 was Associate Conductor of the New Jersey Symphony, where he worked with major artists such as Garrick Ohlsson, Maureen Forrester, and Lynn Harrell. He has also conducted the orchestras of Boston, Atlanta, Buffalo, Detroit, Indianapolis, Odessa, Ukraine, and the Pennsylvania Ballet.
In March 2018 Michael Pratt was awarded an honorary membership to the
Royal College of Music, London (HonRCM) by HRH The Prince of Wales.