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Murray Named Principal Pops Conductor For Modesto Symphony
Newly appointed Modesto Symphony Orchestra Principal Pops Conductor Ryan Murray. Photo Contributed


The Modesto Symphony Orchestra (MSO) recently announced the appointment of Ryan Murray as the Symphony’s next Principal Pops Conductor. The MSO continues to search for the Symphony’s next Music Director who would be the artistic leader of the organization and the primary conductor of the Classics Series. Murray will be the primary conductor for the Pops Series and create the programming for those concerts and Picnic at the Pops.

“Ryan Murray has been the MSO’s Associate Conductor since 2013 and has conducted our Holiday Pops! and film concerts for the past several years,” said Caroline Nickel, President and CEO of the Modesto Symphony Orchestra Association. “We’re thrilled to appoint him as our new Principal Pops Conductor. Our Pops Series has grown over the years, and we wanted to find the right person to help us continue to engage our community and welcome new audiences. Ryan is a fantastic conductor and has built a great reputation locally and throughout the U.S. and we’re excited to collaborate with him in his new role.”

In addition to being the MSO’s Associate Conductor, Murray is currently the Artistic Director and Conductor of Music in the Mountains in Grass Valley. He is also the Director of Symphony Orchestra & Opera at California State University, Sacramento. An award-winning opera conductor and currently the Music Director of Opera Modesto, Murray effortlessly moves between genres including traditional orchestra and operatic repertoire, pops performances, movies in concert, and a notable emphasis on contemporary American operatic works.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to become the Modesto Symphony Orchestra’s next Principal Pops Conductor,” said Murray. “I have had a wonderful time over the past nine years working with our amazing orchestra and connecting with our incredible audience. I can’t wait to share more amazing pops programs with all of you and look forward to our upcoming season including Holiday Pops! and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back!”

Murray will lead the MSO and kick off the 92nd Season in September as Picnic at the Pops! returns for the first time since 2019.

Murray holds degrees, summa cum laude, in Bassoon Performance and Voice Performance from California State University, Sacramento and also holds a master’s degree, with distinction, in Music Business from the Berklee College of Music where he studied with industry professionals to develop tools for success in the modern music industry, including new technology, policy, law and finance.

The Modesto Symphony Orchestra (MSO) was founded in 1931 by Frank Mancini, Malin Langstroth, and Leonard Fristrom, who worked with local leaders to establish a musical and cultural focal point. The MSO became a fully professional orchestra in 1977.

Each season, the MSO performs five classics concerts and three pops concerts at the Gallo Center for the Arts and produces two community favorites, Picnic at the Pops at the E. & J. Gallo Winery and the Holiday Candlelight Concert at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church. Through its education and outreach programs, the MSO is able to reach over 15,000 students each year by working closely with local schools and providing free or low-cost opportunities to experience classical music.