International Conductors Guild

Officers - 2022-2023 


Dr. Claire Fox Hillard - President 

  •  Music Director and Conductor,  Albany Symphony Orchestra  
  • Associate Professor - Albany State University 

Claire Fox Hillard is Music Director and Conductor of the Albany Symphony Orchestra, an Associate Professor at Albany State University and serves as conductor for the Gulf Coast Steinway Society Concerto Competition. He currently serves as the President-elect of the International Conductors Guild.  Hillard previously served as Music Director of the St. Joseph Symphony (MO), the Missouri Western Philharmonia, the Meridian Symphony Orchestras (MS), and as Music Advisor to the Cobb Symphony Orchestra.  He has also served on the faculty at Indiana State University and Missouri Western State University. 

A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Hillard began piano and violin studies at an early age and made his conducting debut at the age of 18.  At age 25, after earning his masters and doctoral degrees from The University of Iowa, he became one of the youngest conductors to be appointed the Music Director of a professional orchestra.  He received training from several notable conductors of our time including James Dixon, Leonard Slatkin, Pierre Boulez, Maurice Abravanel, Jorge Mester, and John Barnett.  Maestro Hillard is the recipient of the League of American Orchestra’s distinguished Helen M. Thompson Award.  Georgia Trend Magazine has honored him as one of the “outstanding leaders in Georgia.” The Meridian Council for the Arts honored Hillard with its Artist’s Achievement Award and he has been awarded a Dream Award from Albany’s annual King Celebration.  Hillard currently serves as Vice-President and Treasurer of the International Conductors Guild; he is a member of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame Authority; and has served as a music panelist for the Georgia Council for the Arts.  

Hillard made his European debut in 1994 conducting the Karlovarsky symfonicky orchestra.  Since that time he has returned to conduct that orchestra as well as the Moravian Philharmonic in the Czech Republic, L’Orchestre Chapelle de Lorraine in Brussels, the Filharmonica “Banatul” and Filharmonica Paul Constantnescu in Romania, the Orquesta Sinfonica de San Pedro Sula in Honduras, the Karkov Philharmonic in Ukraine, the Gdansk Philharmonic in Poland, the National Russian Philharmonic, the Orquestra Sinfonica Caxias do Sul in Brazil and the Academic Philharmony of the City of Astana, in the Republic of Kazakhstan.  Among the orchestra he has appeared with in this country are the Abilene Philharmonic, West Shore Symphony, North Arkansas Symphony, Tupelo Symphony, Flagstaff Symphony, Cobb Symphony, Quad-City Symphony and Symphony of Southeast Texas.   

Hillard’s programming is noted for its diversity and blend of major symphonic, choral, operatic repertory, American compositions, and the premieres of new works.  He has received seven ASCAP awards for minnovative programming and collaborated with a wide variety of composers and artists including Virgil Thomson, Aaron Copland, Alvin Singleton, Adolphus Hailstork, Hilary Hahn, Anthony McGill, Itzhak Perlman, Ruth Laredo, William Warfield, Ray Charles, actresses Debbie Reynolds, fiddle player Mark O’Connor, Chris Brubeck, and the Billy Taylor Trio.


 Mr. Christopher Blair - Vice President 

  • Principal/Chief Scientist of Akustiks 
  • Music Director of the Laurel Beach Casino Orchestra 

Internationally acclaimed for his expertise in acoustical design of concert halls and opera houses, Christopher Blair has become increasingly in demand as a guest conductor of orchestras around the world. In recent years Blair has appeared in concert with the Bolivian National Orchestra, the Porto Alegre (Brazil) Symphony Orchestra, the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, the Tianjin (China) Symphony Orchestra, the New Haven Symphony, the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, the El Paso Symphony Orchestra, the Vidin (Bulgaria) Philharmonic, and the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra. Since February 2018 Chris has enjoyed multiple engagements with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Falcón in Coro, Venezuela, resulting in an invitation to conduct that country’s National Philharmonic in 2021. In the course of his acoustical consulting activities he has led rehearsals of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico, the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra, the Minas Gerais (Brazil) Philharmonic, the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica and the Bogotá (Colombia) Philharmonic among many others, working closely with their Music Directors to improve the sound of their performance halls. He currently is Music Director of the Laurel Beach Casino Orchestra, a professional chamber orchestra created in 2013 to attract new audiences to orchestral music utilizing an informal and intimate cabaret format.  

Following his undergraduate studies at the University of Vermont in Music and Mechanical Engineering, Mr. Blair earned two simultaneous Masters degrees: one in Orchestral Conducting from the New England Conservatory, and the other in Acoustics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Early professional conducting appointments included the Music Directorships of the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra of Boston, the South End Symphony and Choral Society, the Melrose (MA) Symphony Orchestra, the Brown University Orchestra (where he was also Chairman of the String Program), and the position of Artistic Director of the Boston Light Opera.  During his tenure at each of these organizations, he was known for his popular and innovative programming, and in particular his efforts to reintroduce unjustly neglected symphonic compositions to modern audiences. 

In his parallel career as Principal Consultant/Chief Scientist at AKUSTIKS, based in Norwalk, Connecticut Blair's current projects include the new David Geffen Concert Hall at Lincoln Center, acoustic upgrades and renovation of the Cincinnati Music Hall, a new concert hall for the National Symphony of Costa Rica, a new recital hall in São Paulo, and a new concert hall in Seoul, Korea. Prior work includes new concert halls for the Nashville Symphony and the Minas Gerais Philharmonic, a new recital hall for SUNY-Fredonia, a new addition to the Cleveland Institute of Music, renovations to the Boston Opera House, major renovations of the Eastman Theater along with a new recital hall for the Eastman School of Music, plus major projects in the USA, Mexico, Canada, Thailand, Columbia, Chile, and Brazil.  Recent project openings include the Ordway Concert Hall in St. Paul, Minnesota, the Tobin Center in San Antonio, Texas, the Smith Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, the new Centro Cultural Julio Mario Santo Domingo in Bogota, Colombia , the new Teatro Bicentenario in Leon, Mexico, the new Sala Placido Domingo in Guadalajara, and  renovations to the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. A few significant projects, prior to his work at AKUSTIKS, include Singapore's Esplanade Performing Arts Centre, Lucerne's Cultural and Congress Centre, the City of Culture in Galicia, Spain, and Brazil’s famous Sala São Paulo.   

Chris has been a member of the teaching faculties of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Massachusetts, Brown University, and Yale University..

 Dr. Julie Sorensen - Secretary

  • Former Music Director and Conductor - Idaho State Civic Symphony Orchestra
  • Former Assistant Professor - Idaho State University

Dr. Julie Sorensen comes to ISU from Lubbock, Texas, where she earned her Ph.D. in Fine Arts with a specialty in Orchestral Conducting from Texas Tech University. While in Lubbock, Sorensen served as the assistant conductor for the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra where she conducted for family, children's, and holiday concerts. She has also served as the assistant director for symphonies at Texas Tech University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Sorensen holds a B.A. in Music and Flute Performance from the University of Wyoming and an M.M. in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
In the fall of 2011, Sorensen joined the music faculty at Idaho State University as an Assistant Lecturer in Music Theory, Aural Skills, Music Appreciation and History. In the fall of 2015, Sorensen became the applied instructor of flute at ISU, where she teaches a strong studio of flutists and is the artistic director of the ISU flute choir. Sorensen is also an adjudicator for both flute and orchestra in and around southeast Idaho. She actively participates in the ISU marching band camps as well as the Summer Institute for Piano and Strings. As a chamber and orchestral musician, Sorensen performs with the City Creek Winds faculty wind quintet and served as the principal flute for the Idaho State-Civic Symphony. While at ISU, Sorensen has also been the conductor for the ISU productions of Into the Woods and Double Blind Sided. In 2012, she organized and directed the first full student chamber symphony orchestra at ISU.
In 2016, Sorensen was appointed as the artistic director and conductor for the Idaho State-Civic Symphony Youth Orchestra, a position which she still holds. For the 2017-18 season, she served as the interim conductor for the Idaho State-Civic Symphony. After a nationwide search, she was selected as the permanent artistic director and conductor of the Idaho State-Civic Symphony beginning with the 2018-19 season.


Dr. Robert Whalen - Treasurer

  •  Music Director, SoundLAB Contemporary Ensemble
  • Director, Rensselaer Orchestra, Concert Choir, and Chamber Music Activities
  • Assistant Chorus Master - Opera Philadelphia 

Conductor Robert Whalen serves on the Conducting Staff at Opera Philadelphia, and will prepare productions of The Love for Three Oranges, Semele, Madama Butterfly, and Verdi’s Requiem in the 2019-2020 Season. Robert is Music Director of SoundLAB, a cutting-edge contemporary ensemble in Philadelphia. SoundLAB was the resident ensemble at the Philadelphia Orchestra’s 2018 Barnes/Stokowski Festival, and was born out of the Barnes Ensemble, a creative laboratory for contemporary music at the Barnes Foundation, where Whalen was Associate Curator for Music. Whalen was personally selected by Lorin Maazel to serve as his Conducting Fellow at the Castleton Festival and has worked as Assistant Conductor of the WDR Funkhausorchester in Cologne, Germany. Whalen was on faculty at the University of Chicago as the Director of the Chamber Orchestra and as Music Director of the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company of Chicago. He also founded and led the Chicago-based new music ensemble Les espaces acoustiques. As Conductor of the Contemporary Music Workshop at the University of Minnesota, Whalen led numerous regional and world premieres and conducted contemporary masterworks including Grisey’s Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil and Helmut Lachenmann’s Zwei gefühle…Musik mit Leonardo. Whalen is an active member of the Board of Directors for the Conductors Guild. A passionate advocate for contemporary music, Whalen has collaborated with many leading composers, including the late Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steven Stucky and Grammy-winning composer Augusta Read Thomas. A native of New York, Whalen earned a BA cum laude from Cornell University, a master’s degree from the Bard College Conservatory of Music, a doctorate from the University of Minnesota, and pursued post-graduate study at the Curtis Institute of Music. 


Dr. Julius P. Williams - Immediate Past President


  • Conductor,  Ebony Longar Symphony Orchestra
  • Music Director, Trilogy Opera Company
  • Conductor, Boston College’s Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra
  • Professor of Composition and Conducting, Berklee College of Music  
Maestro Julius P. Williams is an award-winning conductor, composer, recording artist, educator, author and pianist. His career has taken him from his native New York to musical venues around the globe, and has involved virtually every musical genre. A prolific composer, Maestro Williams has created dozens of works for every genre of contemporary classical performance, including opera, ballet, orchestra, chamber ensemble, chorus and solo voice, dance, musical theatre and film. Maestro Williams’ Carnegie Hall conducting debut was with the “Symphony Saint Paulia” Inaugural concerts. Additionally, his music has been performed by countless symphony orchestras, chamber ensembles around the globe including the premiere of his “Norman Overture” by Zubin Mehta and the New York Philharmonic. Mr. Williams is Professor of Composition, Berklee College of Music, Artistic director/Conductor Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra (Boston) and conductor of Trilogy Opera in Newark, NJ., and has guest conducted numerous orchestras, both in the US and abroad.


Dr. John Farrer - Emeritus Past President

John Farrer

  • Music Music Director, Roswell Symphony (NM)Orchestra
  • Music Director Emeritus, Santa Maria Philharmonic
  • Music Director Laureate, Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra
John Farrer enjoyed a thirty-nine year career as the music director of the Bakersfield Symphony. He is also music director of the Roswell Symphony Orchestra, and the Santa Maria Philharmonic. Dr. Farrer is a frequent guest conductor with orchestras in England. As senior guest conductor of the English Sinfonia, he has toured with the orchestra throughout England and northern France. His eight recordings with the London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony, and English Sinfonia have received high praise from critics around the world. His recording of music by Aaron Copland and George Gershwin was re-released by Sanctuary Classics March 2005, and his compact disc of English string music was re-issued in the spring of 2006.  Dr. Farrer’s new CD of the Brahms Symphony No. 2 with the New Queen’s Hall Orchestra has been enthusiastically received.  Critics have compared it favorably with definitive recordings of this work made by William Mengelberg, Pierre Monteux, and Felix Weingartner.

Dr. Farrer was associated with the San Francisco Symphony as a cover conductor for the Orchestra’s subscription concerts. He was a speaker in the San Francisco Symphony’s series of Inside Music talks, led the Orchestra in Concerts for Kids, and conducted a program at Stern Grove which attracted 20,000 listeners.

John Farrer is director of the California Conducting Institute, a national training program held in Bakersfield. Conductors from around the world participated in the fifth workshop in May 2006. Dr. Farrer was also an instructor at the London Conducting Workshop at the Royal College of Music the summers of 2005 and 2006.

Dr. Farrer is a member of the music advisory committee of the Young Musicians Foundation of Los Angeles, a board member of the Chamber Orchestra of New York, and a national trustee of the National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.