Biography

"There were beautiful and exciting things in the playing: Golka displayed an understanding of the complementary roles of momentum and elasticity in [Richard] Strauss’s music," writes Richard Dyer of the Boston Globe. "Babbitt’s From the Psalter is as complicated and striking in meter, language, and emotional directness as the texts. The string orchestra under Golka played it confidently, and Golka achieved a Mozartian transparency."

 

Since winning 1st Prize at the 2003 Eduardo Mata International Conducting Competition, conductor and composer Tomasz Golka has appeared with orchestras in North and South America and Europe to great critical acclaim.

 

From 2014 to 2015, Golka was Chief Conductor of Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Colombia (Colombian National Symphony) in Bogotá.

 

Additionally, after serving as Music Director from 2010 to 2014, he currently holds the title of Principal Conductor of Riverside County Philharmonic, an extraordinary, virtuoso orchestra, made up of the best freelance musicians from the Los Angeles area.

 

He has served as Cover Conductor for Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the Cleveland Orchestra. He was a semi-finalist in the 2010 Solti International Conducting Competition and the 2005 Malko International Conducting Competition, where he conducted the Frankfurt Radio Symphony and the Danish Radio Symphony, respectively.

 

Recent guest conducting appearances include Warsaw Philharmonic, Baden-Baden Philharmonic, and Fort Worth Symphony.

 

The 2014-15 Season included return performances with the California Symphony as well as guest conducting appearances with the Reno Chamber Orchestra, Bakersfield Symphony, and the Orquesta Filarmónica de Boca del Río.  He also returns in the 2015-16 season to the Suffolk County Festival Orchestra.

 

He has toured Mexico several times, appearing with virtually all of the country's top orchestras, including those of UNAM, Xalapa, Queretaro, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Aguascalientes, and Yucatán. In the United States, Golka has appeared with the symphony orchestras of Seattle, Louisville, Buffalo, Charleston, Florida West Coast, and Spoleto Festival USA. He made his European debut conducting Sinfonia Varsovia in Warsaw’s National Symphony Hall in 2004.

 

Golka has appeared with a number of world-class soloists, including Susan Graham, Alisa Weilerstein, Gary Hoffman, Inon Barnatan, Miriam Fried, Yuval Yaron, Joseph Swensen, and his pianist-brother Adam Golka, with whom he most recently performed all five Piano Concerti of Beethoven in two sold-out evenings.

 

Golka dedicates himself to the performance of works of living composers, having worked closely with a number of world-renowned composers on their works, including Milton Babbitt, John Corigliano, Howard Shore, and Charles Fox.

 

In addition to his career as a conductor, Golka is himself an accomplished composer. His most recent composition for violin and orchestra, entitled "The Transit of Venus", received its world premiere in October 2014 by the El Paso Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Bohuslav Rattay with Richard Biaggini as soloist. Additionally, he has himself conducted some of his own orchestral works with California Symphony, Lubbock Symphony, Williamsport Symphony, and the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute Orchestra.

 

Formerly Music Director of the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra from 2007 to 2012, Golka presided over a period in that orchestra’s history acknowledged as one consisting of the highest musical standards, fiscal prosperity, and great ticket sales. During his tenure with the Lubbock Symphony, the orchestra added an additional sixth weekend of concerts to their previous five-concert Classical subscription series and a new chamber music series, on which he appeared as conductor and violinist. He also created the position of Composer-in-residence, which saw two world-class composers, Shafer Mahoney and Jude Vaclavik, spend a year each collaborating with the Lubbock Symphony, giving lectures, teaching Texas Tech University students, spending time in the community talking about what it means to be a composer, and presiding over the world premieres of several of each of their works that were commissioned by the Lubbock Symphony.

 

Golka has been hailed for his creative programming and his unique and bold juxtapositions of the familiar with the unfamiliar. During his time in Lubbock, the orchestra gave seven world premieres, the American premiere of Mieczysław Karłowicz’s 1909 tone poem A Sorrowful Tale, and performed numerous less familiar masterpieces by Lutosławski, Dutilleux, Ligeti, and even Prokofiev (his Second Symphony) as well as several symphonies of Bruckner (performances of Bruckner’s Sixth Symphony yielded the highest ticket sales in the orchestra’s history!). As Chief Conductor in Bogotá, he gave the Colombian Premiere of Thomas Adès's Asyla.

 

Golka has a particular affinity for the works of Bohuslav Martinů, and he frequently programs music by this unjustly neglected composer. The 2014-15 season included Golka conducting Martinů's 2nd, 4th, and 6th Symphonies, the Overture for orchestra, Sinfonietta La Jolla, and the orchestral scherzo Thunderbolt P-47.

 

Passionate about building new audiences, Golka designed and conducted all of the Lubbock Symphony’s highly-acclaimed Educational Concerts, exposing thousands of youngsters, from fifth to twelfth grade, to orchestral music. Golka is an eloquent speaker and is frequently invited to speak to various community groups about music. His pre-concert lectures are very well attended, and Golka additionally makes a point to always speak from the stage during concerts about the works which are being performed. “I never liked the atmosphere in concerts, where performers just assume that the audience knows everything about a piece simply because it’s famous. Having spent my whole life making music and reading and researching about it, I find new information and new perspectives all the time about works I’ve known my entire life, and I love sharing those with listeners. To me, it’s what brings the music to life and what makes it possible to connect with the audience, and, most importantly, for them to connect with the music”, says Golka.

 

Born in Warsaw, Poland in 1975, Golka’s family emigrated to Mexico in 1980 and to the United States in 1982. He currently lives in Los Angeles and is fluent in Polish, English, and Spanish. Golka studied conducting with David Effron at Indiana University and Gustav Meier and Markand Thakar at the Peabody Conservatory. He also holds Bachelor's and Master's degrees in violin from Rice University. His violin teachers were Sergiu Luca, Kenneth Goldsmith, Marina Yashvili, and Tadeusz Wroński.

 

As a conducting fellow at the 2006 Tanglewood Music Festival, he worked with James Levine, shared the podium with Bernard Haitink, and conducted a historic performance of Stravinsky's Soldier's Tale with legendary composers Milton Babbitt, Elliott Carter, and John Harbison as narrators – a recording that is now available for sale through the Boston Symphony’s website bso.org.

 

As an operatic conductor, his recent credits include Il barbiere di Siviglia, La Traviata, Die Fledermaus, La Boheme as well as Madama Butterfly, which he conducted on tour throughout Chile.

 

Other past positions held by Golka include Music Director of the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra (2008-10), Music Director of the Ball State University Symphony Orchestra (2003-04), and, as violinist, Concertmaster of Spoleto USA Festival Orchestra and the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra (1999-2000).

 

He was a conducting fellow at the Aspen Music Festival in 2002 and has conducted in Master Classes for such distinguished conductors as Yuri Temirkanov and David Zinman.

 

(last updated November 4, 2015)

Since winning 1st Prize at the 2003 Eduardo Mata International Conducting Competition, conductor and composer Tomasz Golka has appeared with orchestras in North and South America and Europe to great critical acclaim.
 
He has toured Mexico several times, appearing with virtually all of the country's top orchestras, including those of UNAM, Xalapa, Queretaro, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Aguascalientes, Yucatán, and Boca del Rio. In the United States, Golka has appeared with the symphony orchestras of Seattle, Fort Worth, Louisville, Buffalo, Charleston, Florida West Coast, and Spoleto Festival USA. In Europe he has conducted Warsaw Philharmonic, Baden Baden Philharmonic, and Sinfonia Varsovia.
 
He has served as Cover Conductor for Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the Cleveland Orchestra. He was a semi-finalist in the 2010 Solti International Conducting Competition and the 2005 Malko International Conducting Competition, where he conducted the Frankfurt Radio Symphony and the Danish Radio Symphony, respectively.
 
Golka has appeared with some of the top soloists in the world, including Susan Graham, Alisa Weilerstein, Gary Hoffman, Inon Barnatan, Miriam Fried, Yuval Yaron, Joseph Swensen, and his pianist-brother Adam Golka.
 
Since 2010 Golka is Music Director of Riverside County Philharmonic, an extraordinary, virtuoso orchestra, made up of the top Hollywood studio musicians.
 
An accomplished composer of both concert and film work, he is the recipient of the 2017 BMI/Jerry Goldsmith Film Scoring Scholarship. His concert works have been performed by California Symphony, El Paso Symphony, Orquest Filarmonica de Boca del Rio, Lubbock Symphony, Williamsport Symphony, Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Colombia, and the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute Orchestra.
 
From 2014 to 2015, Golka was Chief Conductor of Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Colombia (Colombian National Symphony) in Bogotá.
 
Formerly Music Director of the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra from 2007 to 2012, Golka presided over a period in that orchestra’s history acknowledged as one consisting of the highest musical standards, fiscal prosperity, and great ticket sales. During his tenure with the Lubbock Symphony, the orchestra added an additional sixth weekend of concerts to their previous five-concert Classical subscription series and a new chamber music series, on which he appeared as conductor and violinist. He also created the position of Composer-in-residence, which saw two world-class composers, Shafer Mahoney and Jude Vaclavik, spend a year each collaborating with the Lubbock Symphony, giving lectures, teaching Texas Tech University students, spending time in the community talking about what it means to be a composer, and presiding over the world premieres of several of each of their works that were commissioned by the Lubbock Symphony.
 
Golka has been hailed for his creative programming and his unique and bold juxtapositions of the familiar with the unfamiliar. During his time in Lubbock, the orchestra gave seven world premieres, the American premiere of Mieczysław Karłowicz’s 1909 tone poem A Sorrowful Tale, and performed numerous less familiar masterpieces by Lutosławski, Dutilleux, Ligeti, and even Prokofiev (his Second Symphony) as well as several symphonies of Bruckner (performances of Bruckner’s Sixth Symphony yielded the highest ticket sales in the orchestra’s history!). As Chief Conductor in Bogotá, he gave the Colombian Premiere of Thomas Adès's Asyla.
 
Golka dedicates himself to the performance of works of living composers, having worked closely with a number of world-renowned composers on their works, including Milton Babbitt, John Corigliano, Howard Shore, and Charles Fox.
 
Golka has a particular affinity for the works of Bohuslav Martinů, and he frequently programs music by this unjustly neglected composer. In the past few seasons Golka has conducted Martinů's 2nd, 4th, and 6th Symphonies, the Overture for orchestra, the Intermezzo for orchestra, Sinfonietta La Jolla, Thunderbolt P-47 and the Rhapsody-Concerto.
 
Passionate about building new audiences, Golka designed and conducted all of the Lubbock Symphony’s highly-acclaimed Educational Concerts, exposing thousands of youngsters, from fifth to twelfth grade, to orchestral music. Golka is an eloquent speaker and is frequently invited to speak to various community groups about music. His pre-concert lectures are very well attended, and Golka additionally makes a point to always speak from the stage during concerts about the works which are being performed.
 
Born in Warsaw, Poland in 1975, Golka’s family emigrated to Mexico in 1980 and to the United States in 1982. He currently lives in Los Angeles and is fluent in Polish, English, and Spanish. Golka studied conducting with David Effron at Indiana University and Gustav Meier and Markand Thakar at the Peabody Conservatory. He also holds Bachelor's and Master's degrees in violin from Rice University. His violin teachers were Sergiu Luca, Kenneth Goldsmith, Marina Yashvili, and Tadeusz Wroński.
 
As a conducting fellow at the 2006 Tanglewood Music Festival, he worked with James Levine, shared the podium with Bernard Haitink, and conducted a historic performance of Stravinsky's Soldier's Tale with legendary composers Milton Babbitt, Elliott Carter, and John Harbison as narrators – a recording that is now available for sale through the Boston Symphony’s website bso.org.
 
As an operatic conductor, his recent credits include Il barbiere di Siviglia, La Traviata, Die Fledermaus, La Boheme as well as Madama Butterfly, which he conducted on tour throughout Chile. He also served as Assistant Conductor for Gounod's Faust at the Baltimore Lyric Opera.
 
Other past positions held by Golka include Music Director of the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra (2008-10), Music Director of the Ball State University Symphony Orchestra (2003-04), and, as violinist, Concertmaster of Spoleto USA Festival Orchestra and the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra (1999-2000).
 
He was a conducting fellow at the 2002 Aspen Music Festival and has conducted in Master Classes for such distinguished conductors as Yuri Temirkanov and David Zinman.