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About Jonathan Sheffer
Jonathan Scheffer is one of the most innovative of American conductors, known especially for his performances of new and neglected older works.
He attended Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, studying composition. His teachers included Leonard Bernstein, Jay Gottlieb, and Leon Kirchner. He also produced theatrical and vocal works, including the traditional annual Hasty Pudding Show.
After graduation he continued his studies at the Juilliard School in New York while working as a rehearsal pianist and coach for Broadway productions. His composition and counterpoint teachers were Michael Czajkowski and Renée Longy. He also attended the Aspen Music School for more instruction from Czajkowski.
Scheffer began a career as a film composer. Three film recording projects included working with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, which whetted his appetite for conducting larger ensembles. His symphonic debut was in 1991 with the San Diego Orchestra. In 1992 he was assistant to Michael Tilson Thomas at both L'Orchestre National de France and the London Symphony Orchestra.
He has returned to conduct the Seattle Symphony in concert, and has also led the Oregon Symphony, the Pro Arte Orchestra of London, the Minneapolis Chamber Orchestra, the Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic Orchestra of the Czech Republic, and the Rutgers Summerfest Orchestra.
He has continued his film scoring career, finding himself in demand for movies with a macabre element. These included work on Omen IV, Bloodhounds of Broadway, Darkman (a collaboration with Danny Elfman), In a Shallow Grave, Aliens 3, Interview with the Vampire, Michael Collins, Sphere, Batman Forever, and Batman and Robin.
In the classical sphere his Concerto for soprano saxophone and orchestra was premiered in Stockholm in November, 1996. He wrote two musicals, Ladies in Waiting and Going Hollywood, a ballet, a one-act opera called The Mistake, and an opera with a Gertrude Stein text, Blood on the Dining Room Floor.
In 1995 Scheffer founded the EOS Orchestra, an innovative organization that gives series of concerts each year in New York, ordinarily on themes, and which specializes in new and neglected music, often with visual elements such as dance and projection added to the concert.
In the summer of 1996, the Martha Graham Dance Company, booked for four sold-out appearances at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland, lost the services of its regular conductor due to illness and called on Scheffer to take over the programs on one week's notice, a feat that earned him wide critical acclaim.
He has been heard conducting EOS Orchestra on NPR's Performance Today, and recorded with them a PBS program on Aaron Copland for broadcast in November, 2000. In 1999 Sheffer conducted EOS in the music at the presentation ceremony held at the White House for the presentation of the National Medal of Arts and Humanities.