About Us – Music Directors

Catherine Birke

Nassau Symphony Orchestra | Music Director

Catherine Birke is an energetic and passionate conductor and educator. She is the Music Director of the Music Advancement Program (MAP) at The Juilliard School, the Music Director of the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra (MYO) Nassau Symphony Orchestra, and the Director of Orchestras at Herricks High School in New Hyde Park, New York. She is a sought-after guest conductor for collegiate, regional, and All State festivals, specializing in working with young musicians in ensemble settings.

Catherine conducts over 200 students at Herricks High School, where her ensembles consistently earn the highest ratings at regional and national festivals. The Herricks High School Chamber Orchestra has competed twice at the American String Teachers’ Association (ASTA) National Orchestra Festival, winning 1st Place High School String Orchestra in 2018 and 2nd Place High School String Orchestra in 2023. As the Music Director of MAP at the Juilliard School and the MYO Nassau Symphony Orchestra, Catherine regularly conducts concerts at both the Peter J. Sharp Theater and Carnegie Hall. In 2023, she rehearsed and prepared the MAP Orchestra for a side-by-side performance with the New York Philharmonic at David Geffen Hall as part of The Composing Inclusion Project, a partnership of The Juilliard School Preparatory Division, New York Philharmonic, and American Composers Forum, with funding from the Sphinx Venture Fund.

For six years, Catherine served as the Director of Strings at the New York State Summer School of the Arts (NYSSSA) School of Orchestral Studies, an intensive residential summer program for advanced high school musicians co-sponsored by the Philadelphia Orchestra. She has also served as an adjunct faculty member at Hofstra University in the Music Education Department, teaching Undergraduate and Graduate String Methods as well as Independent Study in Conducting. She maintains active membership in numerous professional organizations and has served as both an Orchestra Chairperson and a Vice-President on the Executive Board of the Nassau County Music Educators’ Association (NMEA). When she is not teaching, Catherine can be found playing violin with numerous orchestras and opera companies, most notably the South Shore Symphony, of which she is Concertmaster. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Temple University (where she studied with Co-concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra, William DePasquale), a Master of Music in Music Education from the University of the Arts, and an Advanced Certificate in Music Theory from Berklee College of Music.

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