Meet Lewis & Clark’s Orchestra Conductor

Lance Inouye, instructor in music and the college’s orchestra conductor, joined Lewis & Clark last summer.

Lance Inouye, instructor in music and the college’s orchestra conductor, joined Lewis & Clark last summer. He has studied and conducted all over the world, including in Italy, Russia, and Israel. Inouye holds degrees from Berklee College of Music and the Aaron Copland School of Music in New York and also studied in Russia at the St. Petersburg State Conservatory. He is currently finishing his doctoral degree from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. 

Lance Inouye Lance Inouye

What attracted you to Lewis & Clark?

I appreciate how the atmosphere of Lewis & Clark is casual and close-knit but also rigorous. This is conducive to a spirit of exploration—one that I find allows me to grow as both a person and as a musician.

How did you transition from being an instrumentalist to a conductor?

In my undergraduate years, I studied composition and piano. When you study composition, you analyze in great detail all the scores of the great composers of history: people like Mozart, Beethoven, Mahler, and Brahms. The more I studied their works, the more I realized how much I enjoyed working with other composers’ scores. From these interests, I found a natural transition into conducting.

What are you teaching at Lewis & Clark?

I teach courses in conducting, orchestra, music theory, and advanced musicianship. In the future, I will also be teaching jazz theory and a symphony overview course.

What’s the current focus of your academic research?

I spent a lot of time in Russia, both as a student and as a guest conductor. It was there that I became interested in the Russian language and opera. Currently, I am looking at Tchaikovsky’s famous opera Eugene Onegin. I am researching how the text affects the music … composition always begins with the text.

What are your plans for the orchestra?

I have big plans! I want to raise the visibility of the orchestra, not just for prospective students, but also for audiences and students. That could include taking concerts off campus and performing in different venues across the city. I’m working on recruiting more students from across the institution, not just music majors, and challenging them to work harder. I am also introducing an annual concerto competition. The winners will have the opportunity to be featured soloists with the orchestra. I would also like to increase the number of new works commissioned for the orchestra.

You have a background in conducting for operas. Will we be seeing more operas at L&C?

To put together a full opera is a huge undertaking, so I think we will start off by working with individual singers and the orchestra. We will definitely do collaborations with the choruses, and I hope to incorporate a bit of opera repertoire into those collaborations.

What kind of music do you have on your ipod right now?

At the moment I am listening to Jimmy Smith and Oscar Peterson. I especially love Peterson’s bass player, Ray Brown. There’s an incredible old album called Night Train-The Oscar Peterson Trio. I could listen to just the bass line of that album for hours.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Having grown up in Hawaii, I love the ocean and spending time near any kind of body of water. I have three little kids, so I also enjoy staying at home and playing with them. I am always interested in languages, so studying them is kind of a hobby. Recently, I became a bicycle commuter, and I love bicycling all over Portland.

– Compiled by Kathleen Burckhardt CAS ’14