Jonathan Strasser, Music Director Emeritus, who served as Music Director of the InterSchool Orchestras and conductor of the ISO Symphony from 1979-2008, guided the growth of the organization from two small ensembles to five orchestras, a symphonic band, percussion workshop, a chamber music program, and an outreach commitment to schools throughout New York City. As a conductor, violinist, and educator for some of New York’s finest learning institutions and performing organizations, he has enriched the lives of countless youngsters and their families. Mr. Strasser has both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Manhattan School of Music. He studied violin with Stanley Bednar; conducting with Anton Coppola and Nicolas Flagello; and chamber music with Lillian Fuchs and the Tokyo String Quartet.
In 1968 he began a 29-year teaching career at the High School of Music and Art, the School of Performing Arts,and F.H. LaGuardia High School of Music, Art, and Performing Arts, where he conducted the “senior” orchestra and taught a myriad of related subjects. From 1969 through 1992, Mr. Strasser was a conductor of New York’s High School All-City Orchestra,first as assistant conductor, and then for ten years as Music Director. For four summers he performed and conducted at Nicolas Flagello’s Festivale Musicale di Salerno on the Amalfi coast of Italy. He was a member of the Cosmopolitan Symphony Orchestra from 1965-1980 as concertmaster and assistant conductor, and made his official New York conducting debut at Avery Fisher Hall with the orchestra in December 1978.
Mr. Strasser has conducted in Europe, Taiwan, and South America, where he is a regular guest conductor of the Orquesta Sinfonica Venezuela in Caracas. He has worked with renowned soloists including Janos Starker, Artur Balsam, James Earl Jones, the McDermott Trio, Eugene Drucker, and singers from the Metropolitan and New York City operas. In 1997, Mr. Strasser was appointed Music Director of the Staten Island Symphony. Currently, he also serves on the faculty of the Precollege Division of the Manhattan School of Music, where he teaches violin, conducting, and chamber music since 1977, and conducts the Manhattan Philharmonic. He also conducted two critically acclaimed performances of The Piper of Hamelin by Nicolas Flagello, a CD of which is available of Newport Classic. On TV and in home video he can be seen as the conductor in the MGM movie Fame.