ROBERT HART BAKER
Robert Hart Baker is Music Director and Conductor of the York Symphony Orchestra in Pennsylvania. He also serves as director of the York Symphony Chorus and Chamber Singers. He also serves as Music Director and Conductor of the St. Louis Philharmonic and the Harrisburg Choral Society. He is principal guest conductor with the Asheville Lyric Opera Company, and is conductor laureate of the Asheville Symphony Orchestra in North Carolina. Under his leadership, his groups have experienced unprecedented artistic growth and enjoy a large following of devoted concertgoers.
"Conductors like Mr. Baker do not happen every day, unfortunately."
Christian Science Monitor
"The performances of the evening were all of superior quality."
The New York Times
"His beat is economical and clear, and he got some splendid playing from the orchestra. The highlight of the evening was a near stupefying performance of Copland's Organ Symphony--- much better, in fact, than the one extant recording of it [by Leonard Bernstein] "
The New York Daily News
"As Copland wrote it [Symphony for Organ and Orchestra], and these players delivered it, this is a manifesto that all but tears the walls down. It was, in more than one sense, a blast! These people certainly made beautiful music together; it was on the forceful side of beautiful, out of proportion to their numbers or age or anything else."
The Boston Globe
"Baker is recognized as one of the most promising young conductors in the country."
The Arts Journal, NC
"Baker is a conductor of economic gesture and clear intentions. He knows exactly what he is after and how to achieve it, keeping an eye on the large design without slighting the details. His own and the orchestra's abilities were further demonstrated in concise, well-tailored accounts of Wagner's Rienzi Overture and Schubert's Symphony No.5."
Musical America - May 1984
"Baker got the Bach Society Orchestra to make the kind of resonant attacks that one associates only with a highly sophisticated kind of orchestral technique."
The Boston Globe
"We are deeply indebted to the orchestra and to its conductor Robert Hart Baker for making available a work [Bloch Symphony in C-sharp minor] that knowledgeable listeners have been clamoring to hear for years. His conception of the piece is quite convincing."
Fanfare, Vol.9, No.3 - January 1986
"A smooth controlled style of conducting is his strongest talent."
Chattanooga News-Free Press
"The St. Louis Philharmonic has struck gold in Robert Hart Baker."
St. Louis Globe-Democrat
"Robert Hart Baker's stable leadership has transformed the [St. Louis] Philharmonic into an ensemble worthy of a serious listener's attention...His conducting technique is a model of clarity and precision. "
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Baker's conducting technique is a model of clarity and precision. Whatever went on in rehearsal, however, must have really been something to behold."
St. Louis Post-Dispatch - March 17, 1986
"The production of La Boheme was in every way a success, with fine performances from New York [City] Opera as well as Asheville filling the hall with uniformly superb Singing. And the Asheville Symphony, under the direction of Robert Hart Baker, fully realized the sparkling beauty of Puccini's score."
The Asheville Citizen-Times - January 26, 2000
"Music director Robert Hart Baker demonstrated again that he has the fine ability to give shape to the works he conducts. All of his readings were imaginative and he certainly was successful in getting the players to perform."
"The Asheville Symphony has strengths everywhere. Chief among them may be its disciplined but highly expressive conductor, whose every tempo seemed perfect."
The Gaffney Ledger
"Conductor Robert Hart Baker and the Asheville Symphony Orchestra gave one of their finest performances when they played Mahler's Symphony No.4. Baker and his forces were able to surmount the technical difficulties of the piece with finesse and yet have reserves to deliver the emotional wallop of Mahler's music to the large audience that seemed quite moved. Baker's view of the symphony was a spacious one, lingering over the rusticity of the folk-elements but finding tautness for the intense climaxes."
Asheville Citizen Times - February 11, 1991
"Baker's thorough immersion in the style and meaning of the work [Mahler's Symphony No. 2] enabled him to produce a performance that had shape, cogency and spiritual uplift."
"[Baker] delivered floods of musical excitement in the final ASO concert for the season. Baker paced the performance [of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony] to achieve the maximum rugged strength and electric tension complemented by moments of persuasive warmth and sweetness."
The Asheville Citizen-Times - April 23, 1990
"Robert Hart Baker glided into his third York Symphony season on strings of silk."
"Your recording of Papa Bloch's 1st Symphony is GREAT! I hadn't heard the music since my childhood and the effect was fantastic! All the themes came back and move me each time I listen to the music."
Lucienne Bloch Dimitreff (daughter of Ernest Bloch) - November 20, 1985
"Robert is a most capable conductor, he is always aware of all the facets of the music making. He has a vast musical and general culture and has a desire and talent for musical research which he successfully incorporates later on in performance. "
Christian Badea (staff conductor) Metropolitan Opera - May 5, 1984
"[Mr. Baker is] a truly wonderful musician. He has warmth and sensitivity, combined with a very good stick technique. His command of the orchestra is excellent and he generates a great deal of respect and enthusiasm from the members."
Daniel Heifetz (concert violinist) - March 26, 1984
"Baker directs music with passion, pain"
"Nearly 200 years ago, Ludwig van Beethoven wrote the music which embodies so much of the passion and pain the world has experienced this past week. Last night, for those who were fortunate enough to have heard the performance of the Beethoven "Fifth Symphony" by the Asheville Symphony under the direction of Robert Hart Baker, numerous facets of that passion and pain were dramatically crystallized. The concert was electrifying from beginning to end but the "Fifth Symphony," performed as it was with breathtaking but magnificently controlled energy and emotion, served to impart and to encourage an attitude of reasoned, rational passion. The evening's performance, dedicated to those thousands suffering from this week's tragedy, was indeed a stunning musical projection of Beethoven's own resolution: "I will grapple with Fate; it will not overcome me." Every beat of this music was symbolic of a universal heartbeat quickened by a determination to alleviate pain and suffering throughout the world without being overcome by the struggle. The Asheville Symphony has launched its 2001-2002 season with a renewed and intensely charged musicality. Our gratitude to all involved."
Asheville Citizen Times - September 20, 2001
"On June 12, 2003, I collaborated as violin soloist with Maestro Robert Hart Baker, both as guests, with the Vratza State Philharmonic in Bulgaria. On the program, the "Roman Carnival Overture" of Berlioz, the "Little Violin Concerto" of Tchaikovsky (Serenade Melancolique, Melody in E-flat, and Valse-Scherzo), and the Symphony No.1 of Brahms. We worked together for the dress rehearsal and concert. Working with Maestro Baker and the outstanding, well-prepared orchestra was for me a great joy. Beyond his great earnestness and most intensive internal understanding of the musical processes, the unmistakable sound and the personal style in shaping the musical form impressed in his interpretation of the majestic first symphony of Brahms. I wish for my dear colleague Maestro Baker, whose phenomenal capacities to accompany and whose sensitivity to intentions of musical interpretation in the capricious Tchaikovsky pieces were impressively manifested in sound, much success and artistic fulfillment."
Essen Conservatory - Germany