Conductor, composer, and Professor Emeritus Rebecca Burkhardt is sought after as a guest conductor for professional and educational orchestras throughout the United States and abroad. She served as the Director of Orchestral Activities at the University of Northern Iowa from 1988-2020. Besides her duties as Music Director of the Northern Iowa Symphony Orchestra, she performed as the conductor for the UNI Opera Theatre, and served as a professor on the music theory and conducting faculties at UNI.
Dr. Burkhardt’s compositions are wide-ranging including works in the choral, chamber music, orchestral, and musical theatre genres. Her commissions include incidental music for The Laramie Project and Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Where Sky, Where Pilgrim for the choral ensemble Bel Canto Cedar Valley, BluesWomenTryptich for the string ensemble Trio 826, and Fanfare for a First Lady composed in honor of Michelle Obama’s UNI commencement address. A Scotch Verdict, her musical written in collaboration with Cynthia Goatley, was presented in a concert performance as a part of Stages, a new musical festival sponsored by Theatre Building Chicago. Her newest musical, Just Ann, another collaboration with Goatley, is based on the life of Texas Governor Ann Richards and received a workshop performance in 2017.
From Dialogue of the Carmelites and Madame Butterfly toFiddler on the Roof and HAIR, her opera and theatre performances encompass the gamut of music-drama and musical comedy. She has appeared as guest conductor with professional, university and high school honor orchestras throughout the nation and internationally in Russia, France, Brazil, Costa Rica and China. Her honors include the Award for Faculty Excellence given by the Iowa Board of Regents and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the College Orchestra Directors Association, for which she served twice as National President.
She has performed with solo artists Wen Wei, Simon Estes, Sheri Greenawald, Fei Xie, Lan Weiwei, Laurie Smukler, Elizabeth Adkins, Helen Callus, and the Interro Quartet among many others. Burkhardt has worked closely with composers-in-residence Michael Daugherty, Dan Welcher, Libby Larsen, Ao Xiang, Sam Adler and Jake Heggie. Recently she conducted the premiere of The Suffragist, a new musical by Nancy Cobb and Cavan Hallman, featuringTony nominee, Nancy Opel.
A native of Texas, Dr. Burkhardt earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Southwestern University (TX), a Master of Music Education degree from the University of North Texas, and her Ph. D. at the University of Texas, Austin. She currently lives with her spouse Cynthia Goatley in Santa Fe, NM.
Burkhardt has performed with soloists Wen Wei, Simon Estes, Fei Xie, Elizabeth Adkins, Helen Callus, Nancy Opel, among many others, and worked with composers in residence Michael Daugherty, Dan Welcher, Libby Larsen, Nancy Cobb, Ao Xiang, Ao Changqun, Sam Adler and Jake Heggie.