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Charles Floyd

Black and white photo of Charles Floyd sitting at a piano, holding a conductor's baton.


Born in Chicago, conductor/pianist/composer Charles Floyd began studying piano at age four, gave his first solo recital at age nine, and by age twenty had been heard in solo recital, chamber music, and concerto performances throughout the United States and Spain. His mentors include pianists Joseph Schwartz, the late Aube Tzerko, Howard Karp, Lee Luvisi, and Misha Dichter. As a conductor, he has led more than 500 orchestras since 1991, during which time his podium work caught the special attention of conductors James DePreist and Seiji Ozawa. He has appeared with the symphony orchestras of Detroit, Oregon, Saint Louis, Philadelphia, Buffalo, San Francisco, Chicago, and Baltimore, as well as with the Scottish National Radio Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, Sydney Symphony, Melbourne Symphony, Aukland Symphony, Wellington Sinfonia (New Zealand), Honolulu Symphony, London Philharmonic, Edmonton Symphony (Alberta, Canada), and the Holland Symfonia (Haarlem and Amsterdam, The Netherlands). During the 2003-04 season, he appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in four different programs, and in July 2004 made his Brooklyn Philharmonic debut at Carnegie Hall. A regular guest conductor of the Boston Pops for more than twenty years, he leads the annual “Gospel Night at Pops” at Symphony Hall. His work in the 1996 season included a PBS telecast of Evening at Pops featuring Patti LaBelle and Edwin Hawkins, and critically acclaimed performances as pianist of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue under Keith Lockhart. Mr. Floyd’s programs have featured such artists as Grace Bumbry, Harolyn Blackwell, Sting, Elton John, Brian Wilson, James Taylor, Matt Lauer, the Paratore Brothers, Yolanda Adams, Jennifer Holliday, Daryl Coley, Kirk Franklin, Doc Severinsen, Sergio Mendes, Chris Botti, Stevie Wonder, Wynona Judd, William Warfield, and Edwin Hawkins. In 1998 he was music director for PBS’s A Cathedral Christmas, with Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. His eleven-year partnership with singer Natalie Cole included such projects as the multiple Grammy Award-winning tribute to Nat King Cole entitled Unforgettable, With Love, the Emmy Award-winning PBS “Great Performances” concert video of the same title, as well as the Grammy-winning releases Take a Look and Stardust. Charles Floyd’s compositions range from chamber music to large orchestral and vocal works. A tribute to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, One Man’s Dream for narrator and orchestra, was commissioned and premiered by the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra in 2001. His Four Spirituals for soprano and orchestra was premiered at Symphony Hall with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra in 1995, and his oratorio Hosanna for gospel chorus and orchestra premiered here in 2000. The 2012 “Gospel Night” program featured the Boston premiere of his cello concerto, with Boston Symphony cellist Owen Young as soloist. In July 2005 Charles Floyd conducted Howard Shore’s The Lord Of The Rings Symphony 24 at the request of the Oscar-winning film composer. In January 2009 he was the conductor for “We Are One,” the pre-inaugural celebration for President Barack Obama at the Lincoln Memorial.

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