American conductor Bruce Hangen is Artistic Director and Conductor of the Vista Philharmonic Orchestra (formerly Orchestra of Indian Hill) and Director of Orchestral Activities and Professor of Conducting at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, Boston, Massachusetts. Formerly Music Director of the Portland (Maine) and Omaha Symphony Orchestras, Hangen also was the founder and conductor of the Portland (Maine) Opera Repertory Theatre, and has held titled positions with the orchestras of Denver, Kansas City, Utah, Syracuse and Buffalo. Guest conducting has taken him throughout North America as well as Taiwan and Japan. Known for his organizational leadership, musical versatility and creative programming, Hangen also has conducted pops concerts extensively, including a 20-year relationship with the Boston Pops Orchestra. A student of Leonard Bernstein and Seiji Ozawa, Bruce Hangen brings depth and joy to all his music-making.
The 2022-23 season marks Bruce Hangen's 25th season as the Music Director of the Vista Philharmonic Orchestra (formerly Orchestra of Indian Hill). Associated with Groton Hill Music Center (formerly Indian Hill Music) of Groton, Mass., this is the only professional orchestra serving central Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire, and complements Groton Hill's parallel purpose of providing the finest in music education through its community music school. Comprised of greater Boston area professional musicians, the Vista Philharmonic Orchestra performs a series of symphony and other concerts featuring renowned soloists.
Recently, Bruce Hangen completed his tenure as the Principal Pops Guest Conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra. This position was created in May 2002 especially for Hangen, reflecting the strong musical relationship built between him and the Boston Pops over two decades of regular guest conducting. He also has held the title of the Boston Symphony’s Germeshausen Family Youth Concerts Conductor’s Chair. Other past positions include the Artistic and General Director of the Portland Opera Repertory Theatre (P.O.R.T.) of Portland, Maine in the summer. Having co-founded the company in July 1995, Hangen was the chief visionary force behind this opera company and its activity. P.O.R.T. presented an annual July festival of main-stage and other performances consisting of singing, directing and producing talent from the world’s greatest opera stages. Mr. Hangen also conducted P.O.R.T.’s performances.
For twelve years – 1984-1996 – Mr. Hangen was Music Director of the Omaha (Nebraska) Symphony. Hangen’s development of that orchestra included the expansion of its subscription classical, pops and chamber orchestra series. He initiated full-orchestra touring activity, major collaborations with other area institutions, and the instigation of an entirely new array of educational programs. Under his direction, the Omaha Symphony achieved recognition for its significantly expanded program offerings, including the nationally acclaimed “West Meets West”, a celebration of the Native American conceived and conducted by Hangen. His influence extended far beyond the Midwest, too, in establishing a sister-orchestra relationship between the Omaha Symphony and the Orchestra of Shizuoka, Japan.
During the two seasons 1998-2000, Bruce Hangen was Acting Resident Conductor of both the Utah and Kansas City Symphony Orchestras. Both positions included a wide variety of concert programs, ranging from subscription concerts to family, youth, pops, tour, and outdoor summer series concerts.
Before taking the Omaha Symphony Music Directorship, Hangen was for ten seasons (1976-86) Music Director and Conductor of the Portland (Maine) Symphony; six years (1973-79) Associate Conductor of the Denver Symphony; four years (1975-79) Music Director of the Arapahoe Chamber Orchestra in Denver; six summer seasons (1966-72) Assistant Conductor of the Colorado Philharmonic (now the National Repertory Orchestra). In the 1972-73 season alone, Hangen held three positions as Assistant Conductor of the Syracuse Symphony, Conducting Assistant of the Buffalo Philharmonic, and Faculty Conductor at the Eastman School of Music.
A graduate of the Eastman School of Music with a major in conducting, Hangen was also a conducting fellow at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood for two summers, where his conducting teachers included Gunther Schuller, Seiji Ozawa, Leonard Bernstein, Michael Tilson Thomas, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Bruno Maderna and Joseph Silverstein. During his student days at the Eastman School, Hangen formed the Baroque Chamber Orchestra and co-founded and conducted “Zeitgeist in Musik”, a contemporary chamber ensemble.
Bruce Hangen maintains an active schedule of guest conducting. Recent appearances have included concerts with the Detroit and Dallas Symphonies, the Edmonton Symphony and the Florida Philharmonic as well as the orchestras of St. Louis, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Naples (FL), Springfield, and Houston. In earlier seasons, Mr. Hangen also has conducted the orchestras of New York, Minnesota, Syracuse, Houston, Birmingham, New Orleans, San Antonio, New Jersey, Santa Barbara, New Mexico, Hartford and New Haven. His repeat engagements with the Boston Pops and Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestras alone totaled nearly three hundred performances since 1979. Mr. Hangen also has guest-conducted orchestras in Japan, Canada, Taiwan and New Zealand as well as opera companies in Chicago, Fargo, and Tacoma.
Bruce Hangen remains strongly committed to education. At the collegiate level, Hangen has conducted the orchestras of The Boston Conservatory, the New England Conservatory of Music, the Hartt School of Music, the Eastman School of Music, the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, the Yale School of Music, the Shepherd School of Music as well as ensembles at the California Institute of the Arts. His successes have also included appearances as conductor of high school all-state festival orchestras in New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Virginia, Nebraska, Minnesota and Massachusetts.