Directors Archives - Berkeley Symphony
Ming Luke

Ming Luke

Meet Our Staff

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

Ming Luke Conducting MSO

Photo Credit: Andrian Mendoz

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.  

Passionate about collaboration with dance companies and deepening the impact of movement to live music, Luke has guested with Boston Ballet, New York City Ballet Orchestra, Nashville Symphony/Ballet, San Diego Ballet and others and conducted l’Orchestre Prométhée in Paris as part of San Francisco Ballet’s residency with Les Etés de la Danse. Noted for is work with Ballet.  Famed dancer Natalia Makarova stated, “Ming has a mixture of pure musicality and a sensitivity to needs of the dancers, which are such rare qualities.”

Luke has written, arranged, and performed over 150 education concerts with the Berkeley Symphony and has served on grant panels for the National Endowment of the Arts and the Grants and Cultural Committee of the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission. An exciting pops conductor, Luke has created and conducted a variety of pops concerts in many venues, from baseball stadiums, to picnics in the park with over 4,000 people in attendance, traditional concert halls and recording for Major League Baseball.

Ming Luke holds a Master of Fine Arts in Conducting from Carnegie Mellon University and a Bachelor of Music in Music Education and Piano Pedagogy from Westminster Choir College of Rider University.

René Mandel

René Mandel

Meet Our Leadership Team

René Mandel

Executive Committee ~ Artistic Director 


René Mandel was appointed Artistic of Berkeley Symphony in 2018. He began his relationship with Berkeley Symphony in 2006 as Artistic Administrator, Orchestra Manager, and Principal Second Violin. In these roles he was instrumental in elevating the overall quality of the orchestra by successfully recruiting high-caliber musicians, a trend that has continued into this season. He also was responsible for hiring soloists, managing concert repertoire, and working with Kent Nagano to develop and implement Berkeley Akademie Ensemble, a new program of Berkeley Symphony dedicated to exploring repertoire for small orchestras. René also served on the Music Director search committee, which discovered and hired Joana Carneiro.

In 2009, René was appointed to the position of Director of Artistic Operations and Executive Producer at Montréal Symphony Orchestra. In this capacity he was responsible for executing the music director’s creative vision for artistic projects and long range planning. Responsible for a team of 10, René managed a $3 million artistic budget, was executive producer for all symphony recording projects, and managed all artist contracts, including guest conductors, soloists, narrators, and recording contracts. Also under his oversight were rehearsal schedules, concert programming, and production of a chamber music series.

In 2008, René was music production consultant and orchestra manager for the Eli & Edythe Broad Stage inaugural performance in Santa Monica with co-directors Kent Nagano and Dustin Hoffman, where he implemented the music director’s artistic concept for this world-premiere theatrical event involving multimedia, actors, and soloists.

René was a founding member of the New Century Chamber Orchestra from 1993-2000. He later served on its board and was co-chair of the music director search which brought Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg to the organization.

As a violinist, René was a member of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra from 1983-1994, and an active musician in the Hollywood studio industry from 1985-2009. His solo appearances include performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, New Century Chamber Orchestra, and San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, among others. In addition, he has performed with San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, and Los Angeles Opera. Born and raised in Los Angeles, where he studied with Manuel Compinsky, René later attended Indiana University under Josef Gingold and completed his studies with Stuart Canin at UC Santa Barbara.


  • Hometown:
  • Started playing at age
  • Started playing with Berkeley Symphony in
  • Favorite composers:
  • Favorite works featuring my instrument:
  • Favorite Bay Area activities:n
  • Recent reading:
  • Recent listening: