Nicholas Koo

Being with Maestro Muti side-by-side along with the Orchestra “Luigi Cherubini” was a dream come true. He is the greatest teacher.


by Cristina Fieraru
March 20, 2023
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Ever since we’ve met him, at Riccardo Muti’s Italian Opera Academy, we kept an eye on the young conductor Nicholas Koo. About this experience, but not only, he talked in a conversation carefully guided by Cristina Fieraru in her signature rubric, Conductors of the future.


Nicholas Koo is a Korean-American conductor currently serving multiple orchestras across the United States including the Minnesota Orchestra, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, and the San Diego Symphony. He has assisted a number of notable conductors including Donald Runnicles, Fabien Gabel, and Marin Alsop and has worked alongside soloists such as Emanuel Ax, Hélène Grimaud, Paul Huang, Joyce Yang, and Orion Weiss. He has made appearances conducting the Colorado Symphony Orchestra in their regular season and is active in the Chicago area, having guest conducted the Illinois Valley Symphony Orchestra and the Southloop Symphony of Chicago. Off the podium, Nicholas works in collaboration with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association in artistic media, using his experience as a conductor to coordinate score calls for a number of recording projects.
Nicholas was selected from an international pool of over 300 conductors to be an active conductor in the Riccardo Muti Italian Opera Academy in Ravenna, Italy where in a series of rehearsals and masterclasses he worked alongside Maestro Muti to study, rehearse, and perform Verdi’s monumental Messa da Requiem. In the summer of 2022 he was invited to join the artist roster of Festival Mozaic as its first assistant conductor where he produced and led a family concert performance and ballet of Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns in collaboration with the San Luis Obispo Movement Arts Collective. Under the mentorship of conductor Scott Yoo, Koo has been a frequent conductor at the Colorado College Summer Music Festival, most recently as the 2021 recipient of the Perotti-Holmes endowed fellowship. In partnership with PBS television, Mr. Koo was featured leading the CCSMF Orchestra in the critically-acclaimed series Now Hear This, conducting film scores by Aaron Copland alongside the original cinematography. A strong advocate for contemporary music, Nicholas also served as music director for the Atlantic Music Festival Contemporary Ensemble and as assistant conductor of the Atlantic Music Festival Symphony Orchestra where he premiered more than 20 new works for chamber and full orchestra.
A recipient of Bienen’s Eckstein Scholarship, Nicholas received his master’s degree in conducting from the Northwestern University Bienen School of Music in 2018 and where he also received his doctorate of musical arts as the final student of Victor Yampolsky in 2022. His dissertation work culminated in a US premiere of a new arrangement of Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. He served as assistant conductor with the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra throughout his time at Bienen and accompanied the orchestra on its first international tour to China in the spring of 2018, highlighting the music of Gustav Mahler and Leonard Bernstein. In partnership with the Northwestern University Opera Company, Nicholas led a production of Johann Strauss II’s operetta, Die Fledermaus, as well as the world premiere of a contemporary opera with the university’s composer collective. In addition he served as assistant to the Northwestern Contemporary Music Ensemble under Alarm Will Sound music director, Alan Pierson prior to and throughout the pandemic and where he also helped engineer new, innovative and aleatoric methods of music-making through cloud-based synchronized technology.
Originally from the Bay Area, California, Nicholas attended the University of California Berkeley for undergraduate degrees in both molecular cell biology and music and it is where he began his conducting studies with the director of orchestras, David Milnes while simultaneously studying choral conducting with San Francisco Symphony Chorus Director Emeritus, Vance George. A two-time recipient of the Alfred Hertz Memorial Traveling Scholarship, Nicholas has participated in various masterclasses, working with eminent musical figures such as Esa-Pekka Salonen and Gustavo Dudamel. Among many others, his list of mentors include Donald Runnicles, John Storgårds, Peter Oundjian, Fabien Gabel, Scott Yoo, and Rune Bergmann.

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Dear Nicholas, it is a great pleasure to welcome you to our dear Conductors of the future family! We are thrilled to have the chance to get to know you better and to find out more about your path & your thoughts on the beautiful world of opera. Thank you for accepting my invitation! This […]

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Alice Lechner

Alice Lechner

Alice Lechner comes from a music-loving family. Her first encounter with the opera universe was at the tender age of six. The grandeur of the stage productions and costumes, the backstage chatter, and last, but definitely not least, the music left her in awe, beginning with Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The overall feeling that opera awakens in anyone who gets a glimpse into this part of artistic eternity, that each and every day passes the test of time, was what drew her to stay and be a part of this world. The Opera House of Brașov became her second home, and the people who worked there were her second family.

Since then, Alice has devoted her spare time to maximising her musical knowledge through instrumental studies, studying both piano and violin for a short time. In the following years, her number one passion stepped out of the limelight and graciously gave way to Law Studies.
Since 2018 she has been studying Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Her passion for opera, even if it is no longer her top professional priority in terms of career, it has most definitely become her priority during her free time. Wanting to experience the best of both worlds and extend her musical horizons, she regularly attends opera performances throughout Romania and abroad.
With OPERA Charm Magazine, Alice aims to nurture her creative side to help it flourish and bloom and to discover, alongside the magazine’s readers, the fascinatingly complex world of opera.

Currently, she is an LL.M. in Business Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Oana Zamfir

Oana Zamfir is a second year MA student at the “George Enescu” National University of Arts, at the Department of Musicology.

She studied violin for 12 years at the “Stefan Luchian” High School of Art in Botosani, later focusing on the theoretical aspects of music. In 2019 she completed her bachelor studies in Musicology as a student of the National Academy of Music “Gheorghe Dima” in Cluj-Napoca. Her research during 2018-2019 brought to the forefront elements of the archaic ritual within works of composers who activated during the communist period, giving her the opportunity to start a research internship at the “Carl von Ossietzky” University in Germany. In this context, she recorded conversations with members of the Sophie Drinker Institute in Bremen, and had access to documents directly from the Myriam Marbé archive.

Since 2019 she has been a teacher of Music Education and Theoretical Music Studies, making full use of interactive methods in the musical training of students and working, at the same time, with the children’s choir founded in the first year of her activity.

Her interests include pursuing a degree in interior design in 2020.

Alexandru Suciu

Alexandru Suciu inherited his passion for art growing up in a family of several generations of musicians. He began his musical studies at the “Augustin Bena” School of Music in Cluj, where he studied piano and guitar. Even though his main study direction was philological, his passion for music prevailed. He began his academical journey at the Faculty of Letters of the “Babeș-Bolyai” University, studying Comparative literature and English. He continued by studying Opera Singing at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy. He also graduated the Musical Education section, followed by Artistic Directing at the Musical Performing Arts department.

His multidisciplinary education opened the doors towards research, which is seen both through his participation in national and international conferences and symposia, such as the Salzburg Easter School PhD-forum, organized by the Salzburg Universität or the Silesian Meeting of Young Scholars, organized by the Institute of English at the University of Silesia, as well as the collaboration with Opera Charm Magazine.

During his student years, he won several prizes, including the Grand Prize at the “Paul Constantinescu” National Musical Interpretation Competition, the Romanian Composers and Musicologists’ Union Prize at the same competition, the First Prize and the Schubert Prize at the “Ada Ulubeanu” Competition.

He further developed his artistic skills by specializing in courses and masterclasses held by personalities such as Vittorio Terranova, Giuseppe Sabbatini, Marian Pop, Ines Salazar, Riccardo Zanellato, Paolo Bosisio, Valentina Farcaș and Manuel Lange in contexts such as the Internationale Sommerakademie für Operngesang Deutschlandsberg, Corso Internazionale di Canto Lirico I.M.C. Licata or the Europäische Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst Montepulciano. Besides his activity on-stage, he currently teaches Opera Singing Didactics, and Pedagogical Practice within the Department for Teacher Education and Training at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy.

Cristina Fieraru

Cristina is a 24 year-old Romanian soprano & a student at the National University of Music Bucharest, where she pursues the MA program in Vocal Performance.

She made her debut in Pamina from “Die Zauberflöte” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at only 19 years old at the Bucharest National Opera House, as a member of the Ludovic Spiess Experimental Opera Studio. Over the years she made her debut in roles such as Contessa d’Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Mimì & Musetta (La Bohème), Alice Ford (Falstaff), Erste Dame (Die Zauberflöte) in her university’s opera productions.
Her passion and experience extends in the field of choral music, too.

She has been part of our dream team since the fall of 2021. For a good period of time she took care of OPERA Charm’s social media and took you on the monthly journey through the history of opera through our Legends rubric – and a few times through the Theaters around the World rubric.

Her little soul rubric – from 2021 to present – is definitely the Conductors of the Future, where, every month, she gives you the chance to meet a young star of the world of conducting and, of course, to find out what’s the most charming feature of opera in these artists’ views.


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