John Yaffé,
Founder / Editor-in-Chief

UK-based conductor-pianist John Yaffé founded Ipsilon Music Press/Services in 1994. He hails from New York City, where for more than two decades he was active member of the city's musical community. He conducted at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Symphony Space, The 92nd Street Y, and most of the city's other concert venues.

Most recently, he was in the Czech Republic, where he led recordings of piano concertos of Frédéric Chopin and Robert DeGaetano. He also led the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra (on their U.S. tour), the Colorado Springs Symphony, Warsaw Philharmonic, San Antonio Symphony, Chattanooga Symphony, Chattanooga Opera, Walla Walla Symphony, the Turkish State Opera, and, at the invitation of the American Embassy in Tirana, Albania, led the first American musical ever produced in that country (West Side Story).

He grew up in an environment conducive to a performing arts career. His father, Tony Barr, a respected figure in film and television, and a well-known teacher of film actors, involved him at an early age in all aspects of theatre production. His musical training began with piano lessons at age seven, and continued with composition at sixteen. By age nineteen, he was already composing for educational films and arranging for commercial recordings. He completed his conservatoire studies in Los Angeles, where he studied piano with Charles Fierro, orchestral conducting with Lawrence Christianson, and opera conducting with David Scott.

Early in his career, Yaffé was championed by several major figures: the great baritone Tito Gobbi, who invited him as musical assistant for his master classes in Florence, Italy; Julius Rudel, Music Director of New York City Opera, who invited him to join the company as an apprentice conductor; Francis Rizzo, esteemed opera director, dramaturge, and all-around ‘opera guru’; the legendary singer George London, who invited Yaffé to join the staff at the Washington (D.C.) National Opera; and Leonard Bernstein, who was Executor of Marc Blitzstein’s estate and entrusted Yaffé with revisions to Blitzstein’s opera Regina. Engagements at the Wolf Trap Festival and with symphony orchestras and opera houses in Maryland, Connecticut, Michigan, California followed.

Soon after, Yaffé moved to Europe. He spent ten years as a répétiteur and conductor in the German opera houses of Hagen, Münster, Osnabrück and Stuttgart. In addition, he served as Music Director of the Stuttgarter Operettentheater and was a guest conductor with the Städtisches Orchester Remscheid, the Südwestdeutsche Philharmonie, the Symphonie-Orchester Graunke of Munich, the Staatsorchester Stuttgart, the Stuttgarter Philharmoniker, the Stuttgart Ballet, and the Alt-Wiener-Strauss-Ensemble. Joseph Leavitt, former Baltimore Symphony Executive Director, then brought Yaffé back to the U.S. to lead the burgeoning Florida Philharmonic Orchestra as its Resident Conductor. Yaffé conducted over 175 performances with the FPO during his tenure there.

From 2008 to 2010, he served as Series Producer of the Sounds of the City concert series at the New-York Historical Society, Interim Music Director of the Delaware Valley Chamber Orchestra (2010-2012), Interim Music Director of New York Lyric Opera (2009-2011), Music Director of the orchestra of New York City’s prestigious 92nd Street Y (1996-2009) and Encompass New Opera Theatre (1996-2008), as a principal guest conductor at the Mannes College of Music (1996-2006), and as Co-Director of the Orchestral and Chamber Music Program of the Tanglewood Institute.

He was responsible for the acclaimed restoration of Irving Berlin’s Louisiana Purchase, performed at Carnegie Hall, and now available on CD. His commercial recording credits include premiere recordings of the orchestral music of Norma Wendelburg, Frank Loch, William Thomas McKinley, Robert DeGaetano and Marvin Schluger. As well, he has produced recordings of the complete piano music of Earle Brown, the complete piano music of Luciano Berio, and the songs of Leo Sowerby.

As a pianist, he has performed widely in recitals with his wife, soprano Juliana Janes-Yaffé, with whom he has recorded German, Italian, and American art song literature for Südwestfunk Baden-Baden.

John Yaffé is currently Senior Lecturer and Co-Course Director for Music at Coventry (England) University and regularly tours the UK and Europe with his wife, as part of their funded Yiddish Folksong Project.

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