By July 15, 2022 Read More →



MODESTO, CA – The Modesto Symphony Orchestra (MSO) is excited to announce 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. Ryan 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, Ryan 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. Ryan is an award-winning opera conductor and currently the Music Director of Opera Modesto and 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 become the Modesto Symphony Orchestra’s next Principal Pops Conductor!” said newly appointed Principal Pops Conductor Ryan 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!”

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

Ryan Murray is currently the Artistic Director and Conductor of Music in the Mountains and the Associate Conductor of the Modesto Symphony Orchestra. He is also the Director of Symphony Orchestra & Opera at California State University, Sacramento, and the Conductor for the Sacramento Youth Symphony’s premier orchestra. An award-winning opera conductor, Ryan spent his early career working as an assistant conductor and répétiteur and is currently the Music Director of Opera Modesto. He has served as assistant conductor for opera productions at the Sacramento Philharmonic and is the past Music Director of Fresno Grand Opera, and previously worked as a staff conductor for the Bay Area Summer Opera Theater Institute (BASOTI) and The Opera Academy of California in San Francisco. Effortlessly moving between genres, Ryan currently enjoys a wide range of performance genres & platforms, including traditional orchestral and operatic repertoire, pops performances, movies in concert, and a notable emphasis on contemporary American operatic works.

​Ryan was the winner of the Vienna Philharmonic’s prestigious Ansbacher Fellowship for Young Conductors, and spent the summer in residence alongside the Vienna Philharmonic at the 2014 Salzburg Festival. Ryan was also awarded second place in the 2019 American Prize for Professional Orchestral Conducting for his work with the Modesto Symphony, and has garnered national recognition for his dynamic, compelling performances of contemporary opera as the winner of the 2017 American Prize in Opera Conducting for his highly lauded production of A Streetcar Named Desire. He was a 2016 semi-finalist for the Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music for his production of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking.

A charismatic pops conductor, Ryan has worked with prominent artists such as Storm Large of Pink Martini, SuperDiamond and the phenomenal symphonic tribute to David Bowie. He was recently engaged to step-in at the last minute as assistant and cover conductor for Andrea Bocelli’s Believe Tour with the Sacramento Philharmonic where he conducted rehearsals to acclaim. He has led some of the top vocalists from Broadway and beyond, including Ben Crawford (Broadway’s The Phantom of the Opera), Ashley Brown (Broadway’s Mary Poppins), and Alli Mauzey (Glinda from Wicked), as well as some of today’s top young jazz vocalists including Tony DeSare and James Tormé. With an enthusiasm for film scores, Ryan enjoys the unique challenges of conducting movies in concert and was recently added the Disney & ICM Approved Conductors list. Recent and upcoming performances include Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Pixar Animation Studios’ Pixar in Concert, and Star Wars: A New Hope.

Ryan 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. Driven by a lifelong passion for learning, Ryan has attended conducting masterclasses and seminars around the world. Ryan recently attended the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music’s Conductors Workshop and was one of just eight conductors worldwide to be invited to the Musiikin aika Summer Festival Masterclass in Finland led by Musical America’s 2017 Conductor of the Year & Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Susanna Mälkki. He also recently attended a contemporary music symposium led by Alan Gilbert featuring the New York Philharmonic. Past events include the Aurora Chamber Festival in Sweden, where he studied under Maestro Kurt Masur, the Lucerne Festival Academy’s Conducting Masterclass in Switzerland, and the Eastman School of Music’s Summer Conducting Institute. Widely praised for his tireless work ethic, natural poise, and impassioned, inspired performances, Ryan continues to connect deeply with orchestras and audiences alike and has proven to be a formidable presence on the podium.​


About the MSO

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. New innovations developed, such as pops concerts, the formation of the Modesto Symphony Youth Orchestra in 1976, and the first Picnic at the Pops in 1994. The 21st century marked further growth with the formation of the Modesto Symphony Orchestra Chorus in 2001, becoming a resident company of the Gallo Center for the Arts when its doors opened in 2007, and the creation of the Modesto Symphony Youth Chorus in 2017.

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.

The 2022-23 season marks the Modesto Symphony’s 92nd season. The MSO continues to strive to enrich and enhance the community by bringing music of the highest artistic caliber and fostering lifelong music education and appreciation.


About the Author:

ModestoView features contributors from our community on a regular basis. We enjoy and welcome these honorary ViewCrew members. If you would like to message them, email to