Photo by Christine Banna, 2023
By uplifting, celebrating, and reflecting the artistry of our neighbors, orchestras become the creative heartbeat of our communities.
With energy, imagination, and a passion for people, American conductor Rachel Waddell proves an unabashed advocate for the 21st century orchestra. Her leadership across the country demonstrates her innate ability to transform vision into action. Through breathtaking collaborations and an untiring dedication to education, mentorship, and community, Rachel inspires transformative experiences and ensembles.
Rachel serves as the newly appointed Director of Orchestras at Colorado State University. Previously she was the Director of Orchestral Activities and Assistant Professor with the Arthur Satz Department of Music at the University of Rochester in New York. She has conducted orchestras around the world including the Orchestre Métropolitain, the Rochester, Las Vegas, and Fort Wayne Philharmonics, the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra (where she was a Music Director Finalist) and Cleveland’s Suburban Symphony.
She has attended numerous conducting workshops, seminars, and institutes including the Dallas Opera’s prestigious Hart Institute for Women Conductors, and Mark Shapiro’s Conducting Intensive at Juilliard. In August 2022 she made her Vienna debut conducting Così fan tutte as part of the Vienna Opera Academy. In July 2023 she made her Canadian debut with the Orchestre Métropolitain, after being selected to conduct by Yannick Nézet-Séguin at Le Domaine Forget de Charlevoix.
Rachel’s interest in the constantly evolving role and responsibility of orchestras within their communities led her to co-found Conductors for Change, Inc., a 501(c)(3) for anyone reimagining the future of the American orchestras.

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