Conductor and Music Director Robert Butts is the founder of The Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey. He has led the Orchestra's development from a Baroque ensemble to an orchestra that plays a wide variety of the classical and operatic musical repertoire from all periods. Since 2006 he has also been the Artistic Director of the BONJ Summer Music Festival held in Madison, New Jersey every August. In recent years, Maestro Butts has led the orchestra in acclaimed premieres of major 21st century compositions.
- Maestro Butts received his MA in Musicology from the University of Iowa with a specialty in 17th and 18th century music. He started conducting in order to bring orchestra music of the period to modern day performances. He has developed his conducting career to include music of all periods and styles, as well as musical theater and opera.
- Studied conducting at Juilliard with Maestro Vincent La Selva; received DMA in conducting from The American Conservatory of Music in Chicago; attended master classes in Toronto, Canada, and Berlin, Germany.
- Has conducted in Romania, Czech Republic, Russia, and Italy
- Has served as Principal Conductor for The Garden State Sinfonia, The Little Opera Company, New Jersey Concert Opera, Eastern Opera Company of New Jersey, and Opera Theatre of Montclair
- Has conducted concerts featuring The New Jersey Symphony, The Masterwork Chorus, The Plainfield Symphony, and Harmonium
- Is only conductor to have conducted three Wagner operas (Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried) and three Handel operas (Acis and Galatea, Semele, Giulio Cesare) in New Jersey
- Has taught conducting at Montclair State University and The College of Saint Elizabeth
- Maestro Butts has composed music since he was still a teenager, alternating between writing songs and instrumental compositions. He often writes both the lyrics and the music in his songs and theater works.
- Was twice a finalist in the Traynor Composition Competition
- Symphony #1—The Joshua Symphony was commissioned by the Plaut family, premiered in 2014
- Composed The Triangle as part of Atlanta Opera’s 24 Hour Opera Project
- Operas have been performed by Eastern Opera Company and In Mid Air Productions
- Mark Twain and the General and The Cask of Amontillado were performed at The National Opera Center in New York City—2015
- Saturnalia Strings was premiered in Crema, Italy—2015
- Early Morning Suite for classical guitar was premiered by Stanley Alexandrowicz in London, England in 2015
- Two Movements for Piano was premiered by Lynn Czae in Paris, France in 2016
- Has taught at The Casperson School of Graduate Studies at Drew University, Montclair State University, the College of Saint Elizabeth, and Fairleigh Dickinson University
- Has lectured for The New Jersey Council for the Humanities, the New Jersey Symphony, The New Jersey State Opera, Elderhostel, and New Jersey Continuing Education Programs
- Has presented papers at conferences of The American Musicological Society, The Sonneck Society, and The Country Music Conference
- Reviews and articles have appeared in Opera News, Sonneck Society Journal, Classical New Jersey Journal, Recorder Pulishing Papers, Journal of American Folklore, and Continuo
- Created and hosted the music education cable broadcast program Concerts and Conversations
Awards and Honors
- Arts Professional of the Year—2003—Arts Council of the Morris Area (Morris Arts)
- Vytautas Marijosius Memorial Award—2011—The American Prize
- 2015 Honored Artist—2015—The American Prize
- Comcast Newsmaker—2015—Comcast
Right Hand Column: Scenes from Mark Twain and the General, The Cask of Amontillado, The Tell-Tale Heart, Gesualdo
For more information about Maestro Butts, you are invited to visit his website.