Award-winning conductorJonathan Pasternack has led orchestras, opera and ballet in the United States and Europe, with such ensembles as the London Symphony Orchestra, Residentie Orkest of The Hague, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, among many others. In May 2015, Jonathan Pasternack was appointed Music Director and Conductor of the Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra.
His debut recording on the Naxos label, leading the London Symphony Orchestra in Béla Bartók's Miraculous Mandarin Suite and the Symphony No. 1 by Johannes Brahms, was shortlisted for the 2012 GRAMMY Award for Best Orchestral Performance, and hailed by critics as “superbly done” (FANFARE), with “risk-taking, profound” Brahms (National Public Radio), and Bartók sounding “especially delectable in Pasternack’s hands” (The Seattle Times).
Pasternack’s experience includes over thirty opera and ballet productions. In his role as Music Director of Bellevue Opera, he led acclaimed performances of Tosca, Don Carlo, and La Bohéme. Other recent productions have included Lakmé, Adriana Lecouvreur, Albert Herring, Die Fledermaus, and Hansel and Gretel, as well as Tosca and L’elisir d’amore with Pacific Northwest Opera. Pasternack has also led the premieres of operas by Robert Clerc and Gloria Wilson Swisher and toured as the conductor of Wayne Horvitz’s genre-crossing opera/oratorio, The Heartsong of Charging Elk. Committed to performing and promoting the music of our time, Jonathan Pasternack led performances of new and recent compositions as conductor of Affinity, a contemporary ensemble based in Seattle.
Born and raised in New York City, Jonathan Pasternack studied violin, cello, trombone, piano, and percussion. He won a trombone scholarship to the Manhattan School of Music at the age of sixteen and later transferred to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to pursue studies in astronomy, philosophy, and political science. Pasternack made his conducting debut when he was eighteen, while a student at MIT, where he founded and led the MIT Chamber Orchestra for three seasons.
As a member of the conducting staff of the Oregon Symphony from 2001-2003, Jonathan Pasternack led the orchestra in classical, tour, family, education, and pops programs. Music Director James DePreist gave Pasternack significant opportunities, including the privilege of sharing the conducting duties on DePreist’s subscription concerts. In his second year, Pasternack was entrusted with his own Family Concert series and was called upon to conduct the Oregon Symphony without rehearsal as an emergency replacement in both pops and classical subscription programs. His work with the orchestra was featured on NPR’s nationally syndicated Performance Today program.
Coming from a family of artists and educators, Jonathan Pasternack is committed to training the next generation of musicians. As a guest professor, he has taught orchestral performance, conducting and chamber music at Ithaca College School of Music, Pacific Lutheran University, Central Washington University, East Oregon University, Pacific University, Conservatoire de Maurepas in France, and the Haute Ecole de Musique de Genève in Switzerland. Pasternack is frequently invited to work with young musicians in high schools, youth orchestras, and festivals. He has served as Conductor of the Seattle Junior Youth Symphony and Music Director of Icicle Creek Music Center’s Festival, Youth Symphony, and Summer Symphony Orchestras.
From 2010-2013, he was in residence at the University of Washington School of Music as Director of Orchestral Activities and Music Director of the University’s Symphony, Opera, and Contemporary Group. Under his leadership, the school’s orchestral program was revitalized, resulting in innovative programming and critically acclaimed performances, including the United States premieres of Sofia Gubaidulina’s The Rider on the White Horse and Joël-François Durand’s Athanor, and the Seattle premiere of Olivier Messiaen’s Un sourire. In celebration of the one-hundredth anniversary of Igor Stravinsky’s Le sacre du printemps, Pasternack led the University Symphony in sold-out performances of the fully staged ballet, featuring modern choreography and danced by Montréal’s Compagnie Marie Chouinard.
Jonathan Pasternack earned his masters and doctorate degrees from the University of Washington, studying opera and orchestra conducting with Peter Erös. Pasternack also studied for three summers with Neeme Järvi and Jorma Panula at the David Oistrakh Festival in Estonia. In 2002, he won Second Prize at the Sixth Cadaqués International Conducting Competition in Barcelona, Spain, where he was the only American invited to compete. He was a featured Academy Conductor at the 2003 Aspen Music Festival.