Joseph Young, Music Director

American conductor Joseph Young is the Music Director of the Berkeley Symphony, Artistic Director of Ensembles for the Peabody Conservatory, and Resident Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra–USA at Carnegie Hall.

His 2022–2023 season features debuts with the L.A. Phil at the Hollywood Bowl; with Washington
National Opera and the National Symphony Orchestra, both at the Kennedy Center; and at Carnegie Hall leading the National Youth Orchestra.

Recent engagements include his San Francisco Symphony debut; inaugurating the Mzansi National Philharmonic (Johannesburg); and the world premiere of Fierce (Cincinnati Opera). He has appeared with the Seattle Symphony, Detroit Symphony, New World Symphony, Spoleto Festival Orchestra, Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto Casa da Música (Portugal), and the Orquesta Sinfónica y Coro de RTVE (Spain), among many others.

Joseph graduated from Peabody with an Artist’s Diploma, studying with Gustav Meier and Markand Thakar. His mentors include Jorma Panula, Robert Spano, and Marin Alsop, with whom he maintains an artistic partnership.

Ming Luke, Education Director

With the “energy, creativity and charisma not seen since Leonard Bernstein” and “vibrant,” “mind-blowing,” and “spectacular” conducting, Ming Luke is a versatile conductor that has excited audiences around the world. Highlights include conducting the Bolshoi Orchestra in Moscow, performances of Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella at the Kennedy Center, his English debut at Sadler’s Wells with Birmingham Royal, conducting Dvorak’s Requiem in Dvorak Hall in Prague, recording scores for a Coppola film, and over a hundred performances at the San Francisco War Memorial with San Francisco Ballet. He has been recognized nationally for his work with music education and has designed and conducted education concerts and programs with organizations such as the Berkeley Symphony, Houston Symphony, Sacramento Philharmonic, San Francisco Opera and others. Luke has soloed as a pianist with Pittsburgh Symphony, Sacramento Philharmonic, and San Francisco Ballet, and currently serves as Music Director for the Merced Symphony and Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra; Principal Conductor of the Nashville Ballet, Associate Conductor for the Berkeley Symphony; and Principal Guest Conductor for the San Francisco Ballet. Long time critic Allan Ulrich of the San Francisco Chronicle said, “Ming Luke delivered the best live theater performance I’ve ever heard of [Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet]” and in 2016 Luke’s War Requiem was named best choral performance of 2016 in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Samantha Burgess, Assistant Conductor

San Francisco-based conductor Samantha Burgess currently holds the position of Assistant Conductor with the Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra. This season, she joins the Artistic Staff of the Berkeley Symphony as Assistant Conductor, having regularly served as cover conductor since March 2023. Previously, Burgess held the position of Assistant Conductor with the Westerville Symphony (OH), the Galesburg Community Chorus (IL), and the Oxford University Philharmonia (UK).  

Burgess holds master’s degrees in Orchestral Conducting and Music Theory from Ohio State University, where she was Music Director of the Ohio State Community Orchestra and Assistant Conductor for the Ohio State Symphony Orchestra. While at OSU, she was a graduate teaching assistant in Music Theory and a member of the Cognitive and Systematic Musicology Laboratory. On the podium, Burgess combines conducting and her background in music cognition research to develop innovative and multimedia performances. She has presented her research at the Society for Music Theory Midwest Conference, Future Directions of Music Cognition, and the Oxford Conducting Institute International Conducting Studies Conference. 

Burgess has conducted masterclasses and competitions in the USA and abroad—most recently in September 2023, when she finished as a semi-finalist in the International Academy and Competition for Orchestral Conducting in Portugal. She has also participated in the George Hurst Conductor’s Course at the Sherborne Summer School of Music, the London Conducting Workshop, and the New York Conducting Workshop.

Joana Carneiro, Music Director Emerita

Acclaimed Portuguese conductor Joana Carneiro is Principal Conductor of the Orquesta Sinfonica Portuguesa and Teatro Sao Carlos in Lisbon. From 2009 to 2018 she was Music Director of Berkeley Symphony, succeeding Kent Nagano as only the third music director in the 40-year history of the orchestra. She also currently serves as official guest conductor of the Gulbenkian Orchestra.

Kent Nagano, Conductor Laureate

Kent Nagano is renowned for interpretations of clarity, elegance and intelligence. He is equally at home in music of the classical, romantic and contemporary eras, introducing concert and opera audiences throughout the world to new and rediscovered music and offering fresh insights into established repertoire. He has been Music Director of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM) since September 2006. In September 2013, he became Principal Guest Conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. In September 2015, he took up the position of General Music Director of the Hamburg State Opera and Chief Conductor of the Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra, and since 2006 he has been appointed Honorary Conductor of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin.