Fawzi Haimor

Music Man

Fawzi Haimor conducting orchestra

Fawzi Haimor ’05, M.A. ’07, takes over as music director of Germany’s highly regarded Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen in September, but the 34-year-old conductor is already living the dream.

“When you want something so much, it’s really true: I’ve never worked a day in my life. I just enjoy every minute,” he said.

Haimor loved music growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, but he intended to become a doctor. At UC Davis, he double majored in music and neurobiology.

By the end of his undergraduate years, Haimor had decided to pursue conducting. He earned a master’s degree in instrumental and choral conducting at UC Davis and a second master’s in instrumental conducting from Indiana University Bloomington.

Since graduation, he’s performed with some of America’s finest orchestras, serving as assistant conductor for the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, then assistant conductor and later resident conductor for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Today, he lives in the Bay Area with his wife and three daughters, who frequently accompany him on his travels. Earlier this year, he made his debut at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Other recent appearances include the New Mexico Philharmonic and Santa Monica’s New West Symphony. In July, he’ll make his debut at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago, conducting the Grant Park Orchestra in Haydn’s “London” and Hindemith’s “Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber,” as well as the Midwest premiere of Kareem Roustom’s “Ramal.” In September, he’ll begin a four-year engagement with the Württembergische Philharmonie and continue to guest conduct across Europe and the U.S.

And Haimor said he plans to bring his perspective as a young conductor to his work.

“I’m the 11th music director [at Reutlingen] and the youngest ever to have taken the post, and that’s my viewpoint with music as well,” he said. “You can’t just tailor it to the older group. We are fusing pops and classical and art and jazz and DJs and rock. Music is for everyone.”

Haimor opened up about his love of Beethoven, conducting wish list and appreciation for silence.

What people might not know about me:

“I keep up to date with neurobiology. The brain and music are more related than some think. I’d love to incorporate some kind of musical program that
involves the brain at some point. That’s still very much a part of my life.”

First CD I bought:

Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 9,” Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Herbert von
Karajan. “I used to listen to it over and over and over. I still have that disc.”

First piece I conducted:

“In high school, I conducted the spring orchestra in a piece I wrote, ‘The Vernal Heart.’”

First concert I attended:

Third Eye Blind, at The Fillmore in San Francisco.

What I listen to when I’m not working:

“It isn’t always classical — I think it’s sometimes assumed it’s always classical for conductors. But I listen to absolutely everything: hip-hop, Keith Urban, Metallica, Radiohead, Nirvana. My kids love Adele right now, so we listen to that a lot. Really, everything!”

What’s playing in the car:

“It’s a funny thing — I don’t always listen to music. Sometimes silence is
great. It’s either the ABC alphabet song or listening to my kids or nothing. It’s nice to be able to reflect.”

The piece that moved me recently:

Bruckner’s “Symphony No. 4,” played by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under current music director Manfred Honeck.

Conducting wish list:

“Of the pieces I want to conduct before I die, one would be Arnold Schoenberg’s ‘Gurre-Lieder.’ It’s a large piece, a cantata, with five singers, narrators, a chorus and a large orchestra. It’s so big and so moving, and you need a massive orchestra and choir and stage. You could have 100-plus people, so it’s hard to program. But it’s certainly a piece I would love to do.”

How close does Emmy-winning TV show “Mozart in the Jungle” get to the professional orchestra experience?

“It’s pretty dang accurate.”

Musician I’d most like to have met:

“Beethoven. He’s the reason I became a composer and a musician. He changed my life.”

— Jennifer Ernst Beaudry, UC Davis Magazine, Spring/Summer 2017. Photo credit: Kelly Newport.