Meet Interim Music Director Paul Schrage

by | Sep 9, 2019

Paul SchrageAmerican conductor and pianist Paul Schrage appears frequently throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and United States, leading orchestras, choruses and festivals from the podium as well as performing as a solo and chamber artist. He currently serves as Music Director of Symphonia Caritas, a professional orchestra that provides benefit concerts in partnership with other non-profits, and Music Director of the Midsummer Mozart Festival. Most recently, Paul was invited to serve as Interim Music Director of the Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra and will make his first appearance in the 2019-2020 season.

With an extensive portfolio of conducting engagements, Paul has served as Music Director of the St. Peter’s Chamber Orchestra, Assistant Conductor of the Napa Valley Music Festival Academy Orchestra, as well as covering both Merced Symphony and Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra. Numerous Guest Conductor appearances include the San Francisco Academy Orchestra, Veridian Symphony, Nova Vista Symphony, and Sonoma County Philharmonic, among others. He also conducts and co-organizes the San Francisco Reading Orchestra, bringing some of the greatest orchestral literature to local musicians in an informal setting.

Combining his artistic endeavors with extensive experience as an impresario, Paul founded Symphonia Caritas in 2015 and has since partnered with numerous non-profit organizations such as Swords to Plowshares and the Gubbio Project, raising almost $100,000 in proceeds that go directly to the partner organizations. In addition to serving as Music Director for the Midsummer Mozart Festival, Paul assists with vital organizational components including fundraising campaigns and providing guidance on programming and concert production.

Paul has performed as soloist with numerous orchestras including the Union Avenue Chamber Orchestra, Winchester Symphony, and Master Sinfonia. He also regularly performs with the Midsummer Mozart Chamber Players, the resident chamber group of the Midsummer Mozart Festival. He has performed throughout the world in Europe, Brazil, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo at such prestigious venues as the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the main square in Warsaw, Casa Huey Barbosa in Rio de Janiero, and with the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste of Kinshasa. Highlighted artistic collaborations include harpsichordist Jory Vinikour, conductors David Ramadanoff and Elena Sharkova, trombonist and composer Bobby Brookmeyer, drummers Louis Bellson and Steve Smith, guitarist Gary Wittner, violinist Ian Swensen, and singers Kindra Scharich, Nathan Granner and Christina Major. And as a champion of today’s music, he has performed world premieres of works by esteemed composers such as Ingrid Stozel, Rubin Zahra, and Paul Davies, among others. He has also served as Pianist-in-Residence of the Contemporary American Music Project, where he frequently collaborated with musical theorist and historian Cameron Logan.

Released in 2004, Paul’s first solo album showcased the music of Mozart, Liszt, and Copland, as well as original compositions and jazz selections. With the jazz trio the Sideways Trio he released “In Defense of Our Dreams”, alongside drummer Jeff Hanson and bassist Doug Pohorski, featuring arrangements of rock songs, classical works, and original compositions. Paul has served on the piano faculties of Foothill College, Vandercook College of Music, and the International Summer Jazz Academy.