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Tonu Kalam conducts the UNC Symphony Orchestra

After 36 years at the podium of the UNC Symphony Orchestra, Professor Tonu Kalam will be retiring at the end of this academic year. Alongside his work with the UNC Symphony Orchestra, Professor Kalam has taught conducting courses and coached numerous chamber music ensembles.

During his tenure, the orchestra won a variety of prizes, including first-place in the 2012 The American Prize in Orchestral Performance—College/University Division, for the video of its live performance of the Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances. The orchestra often presented faculty and student musicians as concerto soloists and regularly collaborated with UNC Opera and choral ensembles, including full productions of Britten’s War Requiem, Orff’s Carmina BuranaMozart’s Così fan tutte, Brahms’ German Requiem, Poulenc’s Gloria, and the Verdi Requiem in Murry Sidlin’s Defiant Requiem production.

The UNCSO appeared on numerous occasions in the Carolina Performing Arts series, including a 2015 collaboration with world-renowned violinist Gil Shaham in a memorable performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, a 2017 performance of Philip Glass’ Symphony No. 4 in CPA’s Glass at 80 festival, and a 2020 solo appearance by Metropolitan Opera star mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard.

Professor Kalam will lead the orchestra for the final time on April 24 during an exciting concert exploring the profound premise of fate. Repertoire includes Brahms’ Schicksalslied, Op. 54 with UNC Chamber Singers & Carolina Choir and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64.

To help celebrate his incredible tenure at UNC, we invite students, alumni, and friends to share some memories and well wishes for him as he embarks on his next adventure: retirement! Please submit your well wishes by Sunday, April 14.

The department is grateful for Professor Kalam’s leadership and creativity over his nearly four decades at Carolina. We wish him all the best in his retirement.

Take a look back at some of the UNC Symphony Orchestra performances under Professor Kalam’s baton:

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