Viola • Conductor
• Born 1963
Often appears with
Theodore Kuchar is an American conductor who compiled an extensive recording catalog before the age of forty.
Kuchar studied as a violinist, then took viola. He graduated from the Cleveland (Ohio) Institute of Music and began his career as principal violist of orchestras in Cleveland and in Helsinki, Finland.
He appeared widely as a viola soloist in Australia, Europe, the United Kingdom, and the USSR and festivals such as Finland's Kuhmo Festival, the Edinburgh Festival, the Blossom Music Festival, and Tanglewood.
At the age of twenty, he received a Paul Fromm Fellowship from the Boston Symphony Orchestra to enable him to study at Tanglewood, where he worked with Leonard Bernstein, André Previn, Colin Davis, and Seiji Ozawa. He was an assistant to Lorin Maazel with the Cleveland Orchestra, and guest conducted in Brisbane, Cape Town, Perth, Prague, Tallinn, and Helsinki. His first appearances in Australia (1987) were followed by his being appointed Music Director of both the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra in Brisbane and the West Australian Ballet in Perth.
In 1990, he became Music Director of the Australian Festival of Chamber Music and accepted the position of Principal Guest Conductor of the Ukrainian State Symphony Orchestra in 1992. When the orchestra changed its name to National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine in 1994, it also named him Principal Conductor and Artistic Director.
Economic dislocations and supply problems following the end of the Soviet Union and Ukraine's establishment as an independent state had severely affected the musicians of the orchestra; some woodwind players had not been able to find a source for good quality reeds for some time. Kuchar made it a point to shop for such supplies while on the way to Ukraine from his other positions, which are primarily in Colorado, U.S. There he is a viola professor, and director of orchestral studies at the College of Music of the University of Colorado at Boulder, Music Director and Conductor of the Boulder (Colorado) Philharmonic Orchestra. There he is credited with being a strict taskmaster who has raised the largely amateur orchestra to the status of a mostly fully-paid ensemble with the status of a good regional orchestra. With thirty of the best players of the orchestra he has founded the Sinfonia of Colorado, with whom he began a traversal of all of Wolfgang Mozart's fifty symphonies, a feat he already accomplished in Brisbane.
He made fifty compact discs for the two HNH labels, Marco Polo and Naxos, with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine. These have included sets of Russian and Ukrainian composers such as Kalinnikov, Lyatoshinsky, Stankovych, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Shchedrin, Tchaikovsky, Glazunov, and Ippolitov-Ivanov. In addition, he has recorded music of Mozart, Dvorák, Martinu, Bruckner (all the symphonies in their original versions) and de Beriot with the Ukrainian orchestra. The first of the Lyatoshinsky discs was the ABC's (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) award for "Best International Recording of the Year." He has also participated in the budget Naxos label's highly-praised "American Classics Series," including the complete violin/orchestra works of Walter Piston, Benjamin Lees' Symphony No. 4, the complete symphonies of George Antheil and Paul Creston, and works of Gershwin, Roy Harris, Morton Gould, and William Schuman. It is claimed that Kuchar's recordings with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine are the new country's leading export product.
He continues to play viola professionally, mostly in a busy chamber music schedule, but also recorded works for viola solo and orchestra by Schnittke and Piston. In 1994, he participated in the world premiere of the String Trio of Krzysztof Penderecki. The National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine named him Conductor Laureate for Life when he left in 1999 at the end of his contract.