The best conducting empowers musicians to make the most beautiful, most moving music possible, with gestures that join, confirm, and influence the sounds. The effective conductor comes to the process with a firm understanding of the musical possibilities and a consummate physical command.

"It was more than a musical approach to the conductor’s duty, more than a theoretical explanation of why do we exist as conductors, for me it was a philosophical moment to think on music as a lifestyle. Each day there was a new goal to achieve, and new issues to resolve, from our mind and from our bodies, everything together in order to ‘be the music’ and let the music be itself. It was absolutely an inspiring experience."
Santiago Piñeros-Serrano Director de la Orquesta Sinfónica del Conservatorio del Huila Neiva, Colombia

BCO offers two annual conducting programs under the direction of renowned pedagogue Markand Thakar focusing on developing musical understanding, with special attention to building technical control. Held on the campus of the Peabody Conservatory, the 5-day Winter Conducting Workshop and the 11-day Summer Conducting Seminar offer 10 Fellows an intensive schedule of activities including 25 minutes daily conducting the ensembles, daily video reviews, and two daily technique sessions. The daily directed breakfast conversations address critical off-the-podium concerns and career-building, along with issues of music-making and conducting.

All ensemble sessions will be recorded on digital video, which Fellows are free to use without conditions.

Conductors who are not accepted as Fellows may attend as Associates. Associates do not conduct the ensembles, but they participate fully in all the sessions, including the twice daily technique sessions, the video reviews, musicianship sessions, and the directed conversations. Many Associates have returned to subsequent programs as Fellows.

All Seminar participants receive a copy of Maestro Thakar’s book Looking for the “Harp” Quartet: An Investigation into Musical Beauty (University of Rochester Press, 2011).


Student Testimonials

“It opened my ears to a whole new world of sound and listening. It was hard, but worth it...this is a fantastic course with a world-class teacher.”

Chelsea Tipton
Music Director, The Symphony of Southeast Texas
Principal Pops Conductor, New Haven Symphony

“It was the first time I have ever been moved by my own conducting.”

Dana Sadava
Artistic Director, Pasadena Opera
Music Director, Community Women's Orchestra (Oakland)
Assistant Conductor, Indianapolis Opera

“Markand gave me a view of conducting that came from the music and a technique that enables me to be free - which enables me to connect with the orchestral sound - in other words, as he often said, to ‘become the music’! And I still do his exercises almost every day.”

Ken Lam
Music Director, Charleston Symphony Orchestra
Grand Prize Winner, 2011 Memphis International Conducting Competition
Director of Orchestras, Montclair State University
Music Director, Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestra
Resident Conductor, Brevard Music Festival
former Assistant Conductor, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

"Markand Thakar's passionate and thoughtful approach to music making continues to be an important part of who I am as a musician. Through understanding and explaining the fundamental components of music, he builds musical works from the ground up, as they should be. I am very grateful to have had his musical guidance to help me find, in his words, 'the music inside me.' I owe him a lot.”

Tomasz Golka
music director, Lubbock Symphony Orchestra
music director, Riverside (CA) Symphony Orchestra
grand prize winner, 2003 Eduardo Mata International conducting competition

“Maestro Thakar gave us a variety of experiences with a good amount of podium time. He is patient, brilliant, and very musical. The energy he set was always positive and gave us confidence, which was critical to those of us who were venturing outside of our comfort zones. He gave us time to learn and grow. Maestro Thakar is a real human being who is genuine, very secure with who he is, honest, and engaging with all people. What I learned from him went way beyond music.”

Dr. Matthew Mailman
Professor of Conducting, Wanda L. Bass School of Music, Oklahoma City University
Conductor, Opera in the Ozarks

“My time with Markand Thakar at Peabody was invaluable. His ideas about orchestral color opened up a new world to me and his remarkable ability to teach young conductors how to realize their own concept of sound gave my conducting and my entire approach to music a whole other dimension that I could not have gotten any other way. I am a better musician because of it.”

Case Scaglione
Associate Conductor, New York Philharmonic
2011 Solti Foundation Award winner
Music Director, Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra

“Though it has been several years since I graduated from the masters conducting program at Peabody, I still hear Markand insisting that I ‘hear everything, hear every sound!’ when I’m on the podium. Listening is the fundamental act of conducting and I learned this incredibly valuable lesson time and again in the two years that I worked with Maestro Thakar. Lessons with Markand are always intense and he is dedicated and concentrated on each conductor’s personal strengths and weaknesses. Markand pursues music-making of the highest quality and he demands and inspires this same pursuit in his students. It’s hard to say just how much studying with Markand has challenged me and improved my conducting. I am incredibly fortunate to have Markand Thakar as a teacher and mentor.”

Francis Scully
Music Director, New Resonance Orchestra

"Markand Thakar teaches from the inside out: from within the score, and from within the student. His demanding but responsible pedagogy, imbued with the spirit of the great Sergiu Celibidache, leads his students toward mastery of the energies that shape authentically musical performances.”

Dr. Mark Shapiro
Music Director, Opera Company of Middlebury
Music Director, Cantori New York
Director of Conducting, European American Musical Alliance

"Brilliant and insightful, Markand shares his depth of knowledge and his meticulous Celibidache technique with passion."

Carolyn Kuan
Music Director, Hartford Symphony Orchestra

"Markand challenges students to immerse themselves in the music, and to be driven by the experience. His emphasis on internalizing a score truly helped me in opening my ears and building my podium presence.”

Joseph Young
Assistant Conductor, Atlanta Symphony
Music Director, Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra
Resident Conductor, Phoenix Symphony

“identifying problems and working on resolving those problems – without giving up on the artistic side (shaping phrases, etc…) – brilliant! It is the very best workshop I have taken part in.”

Hans Kretz
Assistant Conductor, Bremen Opera

“I came to this workshop with a lot of awful new habits from working with young student orchestras. Markand worked on me like a sculptor; getting rid of the tension, unnecessary gestures, etc., to simply being pure and finding the magic. to allow myself to just BE the music, really opened my body, my mind and most importantly, my love towards music.”

Keitaro Harada
Assistant Conductor, Cincinnati Symphony
Assistant Conductor, Richmond Symphony
Music Director, Phoenix Youth Symphony

“There are things that have plagued my conducting for years, both mechanical and otherwise, which I needed to solve. I also was very drawn by the opportunity to study with Markand; as well as by the opportunity to conduct such fine works with such a fabulous orchestra. Every single item on my list of things I hoped to gain was noticed, analyzed and addressed in a most efficient, but kind way by the maestro – including strategies for continued progress and self-analysis after the workshop. Markand is truly a master pedagogue.”

Jane Brown
Music Director, Reno Pops Orchestra

“Mr. Thakar’s holistic and profound approach to conducting and the music making process gives his students the confidence to reach that place within: a free mind and body allowing them to give and receive. The message is clear: it is not only about music and conducting, it is about connecting and influencing and being better human beings.”

Francois Chanon
cellist, Palm Beach Symphony