American conductor Adam Turner is quickly gaining momentum as a conductor to watch on international opera stages. Currently in his third season as Artistic Director of Virginia Opera (following four seasons as Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor), Maestro Turner garners critical acclaim for the breadth of his repertoire, artistic vision, and polished technique. Of his recent performance of Street Scene with Virginia Opera, Opera News hailed the “sensitive conducting” of Adam Turner “who demonstrated an affinity for a score as stylistically diverse as the characters in the plot.” In his third season as Artistic Director of Virginia Opera, Maestro Turner will conduct performances of a double-bill featuring Poulenc’s La voix humaine and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, The Marriage of Figaro, and The Pirates of Penzance.
Last season at Virginia Opera, Mo. Turner led performances of Tosca, Daniel Catán’s Il Postino, and La Cenerentola, and he also conducted Virginia Symphony Orchestra’s “POPS! Concert Series” consisting of shows entitled Queens of Soul, Music of Neil Diamond, and Dancing & Romancing. In the 2018-2019 Season, Mo. Turner made debut appearances with San Diego Opera (Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers, with the legendary mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade), the Buffalo Philharmonic (Kurt Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins), Intermountain Opera Bozeman (Eugene Onegin); and in his inaugural season as Artistic Director of Virginia Opera led productions of Street Scene, Don Giovanni, The Elixir of Love, Madama Butterfly, and Jack Perla’s An American Dream. Additionally, Mo. Turner returned to Central City Opera to conduct Madama Butterfly for the 2019 summer season.
In recent seasons, Mr. Turner conducted Samson et Dalila, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Der Freischütz, The Seven Deadly Sins, Pagliacci, La bohème, and Der fliegende Holländer at Virginia Opera, Roméo et Juliette at Lyric Opera Baltimore, and collaborated with renowned conductor John DeMain on Washington National Opera’s production of Kurt Weill’s final stage composition Lost in the Stars. Additionally, The Kurt Weill Foundation named Maestro Turner the inaugural recipient of the Julius Rudel/Kurt Weill Conducting Fellowship in 2015.
Turner has recently earned a reputation for being a champion of new works. He conducted the workshop of If I Were You by composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer, The Halloween Tree by composer Theo Popov and librettist Tony Asaro, Biennale: A Comic Opera by composer Paul Richards and librettist Wendy Steiner, assisted in the world-première of Ricky Ian Gordon’s American Civil War-inspired musical theatre masterpiece Rappahannock County (subsequently released on the Naxos label), and assisted composer David Carlson in Florida Grand Opera’s world-première production of Anna Karenina.
Other recent guest conducting engagements include: The Tender Land at Northwestern University; Three Decembers with Hawaii Opera Theatre; Händel’s Messiah with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra; a Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program Holiday Concert with Washington National Opera; Sweeney Todd at Hawaii Opera Theatre and Eugene Opera; Le nozze di Figaro, Dead Man Walking, Carmen, La bohème, Man of La Mancha and Oklahoma! with Central City Opera; Don Giovanni, Le nozze di Figaro, Carmen, Brigadoon, My Fair Lady, Camelot, and Britten’s biblically inspired Noye’s Fludde during his tenure as Resident Conductor at Ash Lawn Opera; and H.M.S. Pinafore, Carmen, Ariadne auf Naxos, The Mikado, Carousel, and Camelot for Virginia Opera.
During regular appearances with Virginia Symphony Orchestra and the Richmond Symphony, Mr. Turner conducted Young People’s Concerts and additional outreach activities. His leadership of Virginia Opera’s annual “Opera in the Park” series, featuring both of the aforementioned orchestras in their respective communities, reaches nearly 10,000 attendees across the Commonwealth of Virginia with a program of opera and popular hits, ensuring the next generation of prospective opera lovers, and bridging the gap between popular and classical music genres. He appeared in concert with singer-songwriter Bruce Hornsby, conducting the Virginia Symphony Orchestra at the 2018 Funhouse Fest, and has performed alongside singer-songwriter Ben Folds, conducting “The Orchestra Experience” during his tour stop in Virginia Beach. Additionally, Maestro Turner conducted at the David Oistrakh Festival in Estonia, featuring appearances with the St. Petersburg Festival Orchestra, Pärnu City Orchestra, and the Kaiserslautern Symphony Orchestra.
Turner first gained recognition at age 25 during his tenure at Stadttheater Pforzheim in Germany while taking over conducting responsibilities of a production of Les Misérables. Musicals – Das Musicalmagazin, Germany’s premier musical theater publication lauded his work: “Les Mis reveals even here its magical effectiveness… The main reason for this is the performance of the orchestra, led by a young American conductor, Adam Turner, who brings to the piece a suspenseful drama that one does not always hear, even on the legendary, anniversary recording at the Royal Albert Hall. During the dramatic dialogues, he pushes the action forward but one is nonetheless able to understand every single word…he builds up the aria-like solos with great crescendos yet purposefully does not turn the first Thénardier-Song into a homely operetta number…” There, he also conducted Lehár’s Paganini and Cole Porter’s High Society.
Prior to his appointment as the youngest administrator in Virginia Opera’s history, Turner proved he has a vision for the future of the industry as a member of the next generation of leaders while holding several administrative and music staff appointments at houses across the country including Seattle Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Central City Opera, Portland Opera, Tulsa Opera, Syracuse Opera, and Ash Lawn Opera. In these positions, Turner worked side-by-side with world-renowned maestri including Asher Fisch, Steuart Bedford, John DeMain, Gary Thor Wedow, and Broadway veteran Rob Fisher.
Turner holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Morehead State University, and a Master of Music degree from The Catholic University of America. He furthered his training with internationally acclaimed conductors and pedagogues Neeme Järvi, Paavo Järvi, Marin Alsop, Jorma Panula, Gustav Meier, Kenneth Kiesler, and Kate Tamarkin.