David Kidwell Biography
Conductor and composer David Kidwell has been Music Director and Conductor of the Holyoke Civic Symphony since 1997, serving longer than any other conductor in the orchestra's history. Under his leadership the orchestra has grown both in size and in ability. He has expanded the orchestra's commitment to education by adding educational concerts and partnership concerts with local school groups, and he has reinforced the orchestra's commitment to new music by commissioning seven new works and performing over thirty pieces by living American composers. Kidwell is also the conductor of the Guilford Festival Orchestra in Vermont, an ensemble known for its performances of both contemporary music and chamber orchestra repertoire.
In addition to his orchestra duties, Kidwell is Minister of Music at the Edwards Church of Northampton, leading one of the most accomplished church music programs in Western Massachusetts.
Kidwell is also an active composer whose works have been performed throughout the United States. Music critic Clifton J. Noble wrote, "The ways he manipulates the melody, his unerring harmonic sense and perceptive scoring speak with the honest originality that is the hallmark of America's most revered composers." He has previously been commissioned by the Litchfield County Children's Chorus (CT), Fairborn St. Luke United Methodist Church (OH), Bowling Green Baptist Church (VA), the Alamanda Women's Chorus (CT), the Eagle Pipe Band (VA), and the Holyoke Civic Symphony. Kidwell's music has been published by Micropress, Lorenz, and MMB Music.
David Kidwell was raised in a music-loving family in Virginia, where he played piano, organ, trumpet, and violin. After musical studies in Virginia and Connecticut, he moved to the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts. He was music director and pianist for the Broadway revue company Le Cabaret for six years and assistant conductor of the Pioneer Valley Symphony for five years. Kidwell has music directed over fifty musical and light opera productions by community theatre groups, including the 2004 Amherst Leisure Services production of The Secret Garden, which won first prize in the International Maytime Festival in Dundalk, Ireland. He was also presented with the prestigious 2004 Mary Washington College Young Alumnus Merit Award.
Guest conducting engagements include the Smith College Orchestra, the University of Mary Washington Philharmonic Orchestra, the Maranatha Singers, the Valley Light Opera Orchestra, the Commonwealth Opera orchestra, the Pioneer Valley Symphony, the Pioneer Valley Symphony Chorus, and the Old Post Road Orchestra.
David Kidwell holds a bachelor's degree in music from the University of Mary Washington and a master's degree in composition from The Hartt School. He has studied conducting at the Tanglewood Music Center, the Conductors Institute of South Carolina, and privately with Melvin Strauss. In 2011 he was a participant in the Music Direction Intensive program at the Goodspeed Opera House. Kidwell is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Broadcast Music International, the American Music Center, the American Federation of Musicians, the Conductors Guild, the American Guild of Organists and the League of American Orchestras.