Rob Fisher (conductor)

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Rob Fisher is an American music director, conductor, arranger and pianist. He was the founding music director and conductor of the New York City Center Encores! series from 1994 to 2005. He is the leader of the Coffee Club Orchestra, which was the house band for Garrison Keillor’s radio broadcasts from 1989 to 1993.

Early career and education[edit]

Fisher grew up in Norfolk, Virginia, where he began taking piano lessons at age 6.[1][2] He received a BA from Duke University[1][3] and an MA in piano performance from American University.[4] In 2016, Fisher received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Mansfield University.[5]

After Fisher arrived in New York City as the onstage pianist for the musical revue A History of the American Film in 1978,[6] he worked on the Berkshire Theatre Festival’s production of the 1933 George and Ira Gershwin musical Let 'Em Eat Cake—the first-ever revival of the piece.[7] Later that year, he was a guest pianist for "By Ira... By George," a gala benefit concert at Carnegie Hall celebrating the 80th Anniversary of the birth of George Gershwin that featured Ginger Rogers, Cab Calloway, Barbara Cook, Michael Feinstein and others.[8][9]

After several years of regional theater and Broadway National tours, in 1987 Fisher was enlisted to prepare the musical artists for the international Gershwin Celebration at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which featured performers such as Leonard Bernstein, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Bob Dylan.[10] This led to his conducting concert productions the Gershwins' Of Thee I Sing and Let ‘Em Eat Cake under the guidance of noted conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, who was the music director of the entire three-week celebration.[1] These productions continued a professional association with the works of George Gershwin,[11] one further cemented in the late 1990s when Fisher served as the artistic advisor of Carnegie Hall's two-year Gershwin Centennial Celebration,[12][13] and most recently when he supervised the creation of the score for the Broadway musical An American in Paris.[14]

Encores! Great American Musicals in Concert[edit]

An aficionado of the Great American Songbook and the Golden Age of musical theater,[15] Fisher was pivotal in the 1994 founding of New York City Center's Encores! Great American Musicals in Concert, an annual series dedicated to presenting the complete scores of rarely-heard musicals.[16] The series was praised widely and was awarded the Lucille Lortel Award for Off-Broadway Special Achievement in 1995, the Jujamcyn Theater Award in 1997, several Outer Critics Circle Awards, and a Tony Honor for Excellence in Theatre in 2000.[17] For his contributions to Encores!, Fisher himself received the 1997 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Special Achievement.[18] Fisher has made numerous recordings for Encores!, including the Grammy Award-winning Chicago cast recording.[19]

Fisher served as music director and conductor of Encores! from 1994 through 2005.[20][21] He continues to be a regular guest music director for the series.

Several Encores! productions conducted by Fisher eventually transferred to Broadway for commercial productions. Most notable of these is Chicago, which has gone on to become Broadway's second longest running show as well as Broadway's longest running revival.[22][23] Fisher remains supervising music director for Chicago productions worldwide.[24]

Concert and recording work[edit]

In addition to Fisher's work for theatrical productions, he is a frequent guest of orchestras across the United States, both as a conductor and as a piano soloist. With the New York Philharmonic, he conducted concert versions of Carousel (for which he received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Musical Director)[25] and My Fair Lady.[26] With the Orchestra of St. Luke's, he led gala performances of Candide,[27] Guys and Dolls,[28] and The Sound of Music[29] at Carnegie Hall. In 2001, he conducted the San Francisco Symphony in the Emmy-winning concert production of Sweeney Todd starring Patti LuPone and George Hearn, which was subsequently released on DVD.[30]

Fisher conducted the New York Pops frequently between 2004 and 2008, frequently sharing concerts with Skitch Henderson as well as leading the orchestra for many holiday concerts and special events.[31] Additionally, he has appeared with the Boston and Chicago Symphonies, the Philadelphia and Cleveland orchestras, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the San Francisco, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and National symphonies. As a pianist, Fisher has been soloist for Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and Concerto in F with multiple orchestras across the country.[32]

In addition to collaborating in concert with such artists as Renée Fleming, Kristin Chenoweth, Kelli O’Hara, Victoria Clark, Idina Menzel, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and David Hyde Pierce, he has conducted many engagements with Patti LuPone, including ones with the Pacific, Phoenix, Atlanta, Fort Worth, and Chicago symphonies.[32]

He has recorded dozens of albums as conductor and music director, serving as producer of several of them—including the recent Original Broadway Cast Recording of An American in Paris, for which he received a Grammy-nomination as Producer.[33] Most recently, Fisher was the music supervisor, conductor, and an arranger for Renée Fleming's 2018 album Broadway, produced by multiple Grammy-winning David Frost.

As an arranger, he has had choral arrangements published by Hal Leonard and has contributed vocal arrangements to numerous shows and recordings. For the opening night of Carnegie Hall's 2018-2019 season, he arranged a duet for Audra McDonald and Renée Fleming with the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas.

From 1989 to 1993, Fisher was music director for Garrison Keillor's “American Radio Company,” leading the program's house band, the Coffee Club Orchestra. He remained a frequent guest on Keillor's “A Prairie Home Companion” until Keillor's retirement.[1][34]

Theater credits[edit]



music director/conductor for all productions below[35]



Year Album/Artist Role(s) Label Notes
2018 Broadway

Renée Fleming

music supervisor, conductor Decca Classics (Universal)
2015 Lady, Be Good!

Encores! Cast Recording featuring Tommy Tune, Patti Murin, and Danny Gardner

music director, conductor, producer Ghostlight Records
2015 An American in Paris

Original Broadway Cast Recording featuring Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope

score supervisor, arranger, producer Masterworks Broadway Grammy nomination
2013 Shout, Sister, Shout

The DiGiallonardo Sisters

music director, piano, producer CD Baby
2013 Rappahannock County

Original Cast Recording

music director, conductor Naxos Records
2011 Anything Goes

Broadway Revival Cast Recording featuring Sutton Foster, Joel Grey, and Laura Osnes

music supervisor, vocal arranger, producer Ghostlight Records Grammy nomination
2010 On Broadway

David Campbell

music director, conductor, producer Columbia/Sony Music Entertainment Australia
2007 Musical Fireworks

The New York Pops

music director, conductor Private release
2007 Face the Music

Encores! Cast Recording featuring Judy Kaye, Lee Wilkof, and Eddie Korbich

music director, conductor, vocal arrangements DRG Records
2004 The New Moon

Encores! Cast Recording featuring Christiane Noll and Rod Gilfry

music director, conductor, associate producer Ghostlight Records
2004 Wonderful Town

Broadway Revival Cast Recording featuring Donna Murphy, Jennifer Westfeldt, and Gregg Edelman

music director, conductor, associate producer DRG Records
2001 Ziegfeld Follies of 1936

Encores! Cast Recording featuring Christine Ebersole, Ruthie Henshall, Howard McGillin, Mary Testa, and Peter Scolari

music director, conductor, associate producer Decca Broadway
2001 George and Ira Gershwin's Tell Me More and Tip-Toes

Studio Cast Recording featuring David Garrison, Christine Ebersole, Sally Mayes, Patrick Cassidy, Emily Loesser, Lewis J. Stadlen, Lee Wilkof, and Mark Baker

music director, conductor, piano, producer New World Records
2001 Let Yourself Go

Kristin Chenoweth

music director, conductor Sony Classical
2000 Tenderloin

Encores! Cast Recording featuring David Ogden Stiers, Patrick Wilson, and Debbie Gravitte

music director, conductor, co-producer DRG Records
2000 Saturday Night

Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording

music director, conductor Nonesuch Records
1998 Babes in Arms

Encores! Cast Recording

music director, conductor, associate producer DRG Records
1998 St. Louis Woman

Encores! Cast Recording featuring Vanessa Williams

music director, conductor, associate producer Mercury Records
1997 The Boys from Syracuse

Encores! Cast Recording

music director, conductor, associate producer DRG Records
1997 Chicago

Broadway Revival Cast Recording featuring Ann Reinking, Bebe Neuwirth, James Naughton, and Joel Grey

music director, conductor RCA Victor/BMG Classics Grammy Award, Musical Show Recording
1996 Horrors! A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor conductor, piano HighBridge Productions
1996 Nice Work If You Can Get It:  Songs by the Gershwins

Michael Feinstein

guest conductor Atlantic Records
1996 Louisiana Purchase

Encores! Cast Recording

music director, conductor, associate producer DRG Records
1995 Manhattan Dream

Tomoko Shibata

music director, conductor, piano EMI Records
1995 A Prairie Home Christmas with Garrison Keillor & Hundreds of Friends & Acquaintances conductor HighBridge Productions
1995 Out of This World

Encores! Cast Recording featuring Andrea Martin, Marin Mazzie, La Chanze, Ken Page, Gregg Edelman, Ernie Sabella, and Peter Scolari

music director, conductor, associate producer    DRG Records
1995 Pal Joey

Encores! Cast Recording featuring Patti LuPone, Peter Gallagher, and Bebe Neuwirth

music director, conductor, associate producer    DRG Records
1995 Call Me Madam

Encores! Cast Recording featuring Tyne Daly

music director, conductor, associate producer    DRG Records
1994 A Prairie Home Companion 20th Anniversary Collection piano HighBridge Productions
1992 Shaking the Blues Away

Garrison Keillor with Rob Fisher and the Coffee Club Orchestra

conductor, piano, liner notes Angel Records/EMI
1990 Local Man Moves to the City

Garrison Keillor with Rob Fisher and the Coffee Club Orchestra

conductor HighBridge Productions
1990 Garrison Keillor's American Radio Company: The First Season

Garrison Keillor with Rob Fisher and the Coffee Club Orchestra

conductor HighBridge Productions
1987 George and Ira Gershwin's Of Thee I Sing and Let ’Em Eat Cake

Studio Cast Recording featuring Maureen McGovern, Larry Kert, Jack Gilford, and Michael Tilson Thomas conducting the Orchestra of St. Luke's

associate music director CBS Records Grammy nomination
1980 A Day in Hollywood, a Night in the Ukraine

Original Broadway Cast Recording

piano DRG Records


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  16. ^ "About | New York City Center". Retrieved 2016-02-22.
  17. ^ "Awards | New York City Center". Retrieved 2016-02-06.
  18. ^ "Other Resources". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
  19. ^ "Past Winners Search". The GRAMMYs. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
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  21. ^ "FISHER LEAVES 'TREE' AS HIS FINAL ENCORE". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2016-03-14.
  22. ^ "Long Runs on Broadway". Playbill. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
  23. ^ League, The Broadway. "Chicago | IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information". Retrieved 2016-02-06.
  24. ^ "Chicago The Musical". Chicago The Musical - Official Site. Archived from the original on 2016-02-18. Retrieved 2016-02-22.
  25. ^ "Nominees/Winners". Television Academy. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
  26. ^ Isherwood, Charles (2007-03-09). "My Fair Lady - Review - Theater". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-02-22.
  27. ^ "Carnegie Hall Announces Star-Studded 'Candide'". 2018-01-12. Retrieved 2018-12-12.
  28. ^ "Guys and DollsOne Night Only - ONLY at Carnegie Hall". Archived from the original on 2014-05-08. Retrieved 2016-02-22.
  29. ^ "Carnegie Hall Is Alive with The Sound of Music April 24; Laura Osnes Stars". Playbill. Retrieved 2016-02-22.
  30. ^ "Epiphany! "Sweeney Todd in Concert" is 2002 Emmy Winner". Playbill. Retrieved 2016-02-22.
  31. ^ "A Taste Of New York Around The Corner". tribunedigital-dailypress. Retrieved 2016-02-22.
  32. ^ a b "Rob Fisher |:. Opus 3 Artists". Retrieved 2016-02-22.
  33. ^ "58th Annual GRAMMY Awards Nominees". The GRAMMYs. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
  34. ^ "Rob Fisher". Archived from the original on 2016-04-25. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
  35. ^ "Previous Casts & Creative Teams | New York City Center". Retrieved 2016-02-06.
  36. ^ "Robert Fisher - Lortel Archives". Retrieved 2016-02-06.

External links[edit]