Taka Matsunaga

Taka Matsunaga, Elmhurst University

Taka Matsunaga

Director of Orchestras; Assistant Professor
Department of Music

Courses Taught
  • Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conducting I
  • Conducting II
  • String Techniques

As the recipient of the 2021 Conductor of the Year granted by the Illinois Council of Orchestras as well as the third-place winner of the 2020 and 2021 American Prize in Orchestral Conducting, Taka Matsunaga is currently the Director of Orchestras and Assistant Professor of Music at Elmhurst University, where he conducts the University Orchestra. He is also a Founder and Music Director of the Midwest Philharmonic Orchestra in Schaumburg, Illinois and is also on the faculty at Birch Creek Music Performance Center in Door County, Wisconsin, where he serves as a Symphony Conductor.

Matsunaga’s musical journey in the United States began in 1998 to pursue his violin studies with David Taylor, Joseph Golan and Robert Chen while attending Roosevelt University and Northeastern Illinois University, where he received his master’s degree in music.

Between 1999 and 2001, Matsunaga’s skills as a violinist were honed during his time as a regular member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, a training orchestra of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Notably, he had the privilege of performing at Carnegie Hall in March 2000, conducted by the esteemed Maestro Daniel Barenboim. While playing in the Civic Orchestra, Matsunaga has played with world-renowned conductors including Neeme Järvi, Christoph Eschenbach, Osmo Vänskä, Pierre Boulez, and Pinchas Zukerman, to name just a few. To further enrich his musical abilities, Matsunaga also participated in the National Orchestral Institute at the University of Maryland. Matsunaga then went on to join the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, South Bend Symphony Orchestra, and Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra, where he served as an Acting Assistant Concertmaster.

As a conductor, Matsunaga has led numerous concerts at renowned venues of global acclaim, including Carnegie Hall in New York, Symphony Center in Chicago, and Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, among others. Matsunaga shared his valuable expertise in conducting workshops for young conductors at Illinois Music Education Conference in both 2021 and 2022. Moreover, in November 2022, Matsunaga served as a guest conductor for ILMEA’s District 1 Senior Orchestra, showcasing his remarkable talent and leadership.
Matsunaga actively participates in workshops and festivals of national prominence, contributing to the music education and development of aspiring musicians across the country.

Matsunaga is a member of the College Orchestra Directors Association (CODA), National Association for Music Education (NAfME), Illinois Music Education Association (ILMEA), and American String Teachers Association (ASTA).

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