About Us

Cascade Conducting

With the motto of "Excellence through Equity," Cascade Conducting is dedicated to bringing world- class musical education to talented and diverse musicians from the US and around the world.  Conceived by Paula Madrigal, Teo Benson, and Sarah Ioannides in 2017, Cascade Conducting is officially a program of Orquesta Northwest, a 501(c)3 non-profit.

Since 2018, Cascade Conducting has given out 30 full tuition scholarships equaling more than $70,000 to exceptional young conducting and composing students, with a focus on engaging talented BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) musicians who may not have access to traditional avenues or opportunities.

A unique pedagogical philosophy has formed the mission of Cascade Conducting, which seeks to provide a unique map for navigating the world of music and conducting, and to find balance between the demands of the business, and the preservation of one’s individual musicianship as a necessity to achieve excellence.

In 2020, in a partnership with Symphony Tacoma, Cascade Conducting teamed up with Symphony Tacoma composer in residence, and now Dean of the School of Music at Julliard, David Serkin Ludwig, to create the first Cascade Composers Workshop with David Ludwig, and culminated in the performance of "The Final Conquest" presented by Symphony Tacoma.  In this concert, Cascade Conductors led Symphony Tacoma in a performance of the compositions created for the purpose of the workshop by participants of the Cascade Composers Workshop.  This performance was recorded at Pantages Theater, the home of Symphony Tacoma, and is available to view on the Symphony Tacoma YouTube page.  Ludwig will be joining the 2023 Cascade Conducting Masterclass again for the fourth annual Cascade Composers Workshop.

Last year Cascade Conducting teamed up with Dr. Geoffrey Boers, music director of Symphony Tacoma Voices to present the first Cascade Conducting Choral Masterclass with Geoffrey Boers.  The Orchestral Masterclass with Sarah Ioannides, Second Annual Choral Masterclass with Geoffrey Boers, and Third Annual Cascade Composers Workshop will run simultaneously the week of June 26th- July 1st 2023, giving participants from each class the opportunity to learn from different teachers and disciplines at the Sixth Annual Cascade Conducting Masterclass with Sarah Ioannides.

In the words of Ioannides:

“I am thrilled to take this opportunity to share with conductors of all levels my experience and to have the chance to help train a new generation of conductors.

I worked with and studied at great length with many different teachers. Some broadened my conducting language and techniques, some helped me understand harmony and phrasing in a new light, and some shared great philosophical thought on the leadership role. Some prepared me for the daunting tasks of score study and how to prepare sufficiently (if there is such an end point), and others helped open new ways of listening for balance within the orchestra, stylistic interpretation, color variety and depth of dynamics. From others, I learnt how to prepare and lead rehearsals efficiently, to accompany well, an dto work with all types of musicians. I am still benefitting in my work from the endless lessons I received.

I wish to share the knowledge that has been passed on to me by great conductors. However, this course is also designed to help each individual to find their own unique and successful path as a musician and conductor.”

The inaugural Cascade Composers Symposium with Symphony Tacoma composer-in-residence David Ludwig is a collaboration with Symphony Tacoma and would not be possible without the support of Symphony Tacoma.

The third annual Cascade Conducting Masterclass and first annual Cascade Composer’s Symposium at Pacific Lutheran University will feature 20 principal members of Symphony Tacoma.

It is one of many events inspired by the ideas of the founding members of Cascade Conducting, a program at Orquesta Northwest.