Music Director & Conductor
Claire Fox Hillard was appointed Music Director and Conductor of the Albany Symphony Orchestra in 1988. He is an Associate Professor at Albany State University and additionally serves as conductor for the Gulf Coast Steinway Society Concerto Competition. Hillard previously served as Music Director of the St. Joseph Symphony (MO), the Missouri Western Philharmonia, and the Meridian Symphony Orchestras (MS), and as Music Advisor to the Cobb Symphony Orchestra. He previously also served on the faculty at Indiana State University and Missouri Western State University.
A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Hillard began piano and violin studies at an early age and made his conducting debut at the age of 18. At age 25, after earning his masters and doctoral degrees from The University of Iowa, he became one of the youngest conductors to be appointed the Music Director of a professional orchestra. He received training from several notable conductors of our time including James Dixon, Leonard Slatkin, Pierre Boulez, Maurice Abravanel, Jorge Mester, and John Barnett. Maestro Hillard is the recipient of the League of American Orchestra’s distinguished Helen M. Thompson Award. Georgia Trend Magazine has honored him as one of the “outstanding leaders in Georgia.” The Meridian Council for the Arts honored Hillard with its Artist’s Achievement Award and he has been awarded a Dream Award from Albany’s annual King Celebration. Hillard currently serves as Vice-President and Treasurer of the International Conductors Guild; he is a member of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame Authority; and has served as a music panelist for the Georgia Council for the Arts.
Hillard made his European debut in 1994 conducting the Karlovarsky symfonicky orchestra. Since that time he has returned to conduct that orchestra as well as the Moravian Philharmonic in the Czech Republic, L’Orchestre Chapelle de Lorraine in Brussels, the Filharmonica “Banatul” and Filharmonica Paul Constantnescu in Romania, the Orquesta Sinfonica de San Pedro Sula in Honduras, the Karkov Philharmonic in Ukraine, the Gdansk Philharmonic in Poland, the National Russian Philharmonic, the Orquestra Sinfonica Caxias do Sul in Brazil and the Academic Philharmony of the City of Astana, in the Republic of Kazakhstan. Among the orchestra he has appeared with in this country are the Abilene Philharmonic, West Shore Symphony, North Arkansas Symphony, Tupelo Symphony, Flagstaff Symphony, Cobb Symphony, Quad-City Symphony and Symphony of Southeast Texas.
Hillard’s programming is noted for its diversity and blend of major symphonic, choral, operatic repertory, American compositions and the premieres of new works. He has received seven ASCAP awards for minnovative programming and collaborated with a wide variety of composers and artists including Virgil Thomson, Aaron Copland, Alvin Singleton, Adolphus Hailstork, Hilary Hahn, Itzhak Perlman, Ruth Laredo, William Warfield, Ray Charles, actresses Debbie Reynolds, fiddle player Mark O’Connor, Chris Brubeck, and the Billy Taylor Trio.