Conductor Douglas Droste is recognized as possessing “obvious joy” for making music and a “sure sense of timing” when on the podium. Those under his baton routinely acknowledge his in-depth interpretations, keen sense of communication, and personable ability to empower musicians. Droste is the Artistic Director of the Muncie Symphony Orchestra and Director of Orchestras at Ball State University.
Droste has led dynamic performances with the MSO and has been praised for his innovative programming. He has conducted performances of Scott Routenberg’s Concerto for Jazz Violin and Orchestra featuring Christian Howes; Michael Shapiro and Victor Cheng’s Identity: Zhongshang Zhuang, Concerto for Guzheng and Orchestra featuring Su Chang; and recently commissioned Joe Deninzon’s Dream Diary: Concerto for Seven-String Electric Violin and Orchestra. Droste has also led passionate performances of traditional repertoire such as Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Debussy’s La Mer, Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4.
Believing that community engagement is critical for orchestras, Droste has helped establish new concerts such as the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Concert, a Sensory Friendly concert for children with special needs, a Toddler Pops concert, and co-created/produced the popular Young People’s Concert, “Music is Science!” Droste continues to program accessible pops concerts with past artists such as Time for Three, the Ball State University “Pride of Mid-America” Marching Band, and local blues/gospel singer-songwriter, Jennie DeVoe. Droste also performed as violin/leader on Peter Breiner’s Beatles Concerto Grosso II in the MSO’s new concept concert at Ball State University’s state-of-the-art Charles W. Brown Planetarium.
At Ball State, Droste conducts the Ball State Symphony Orchestra and oversees the orchestral conducting program. The BSSO performs a diverse mix of traditional repertoire and new music. Always seeking unique collaborations, the orchestra has performed a dual performance of the Nutcracker Suites by Tchaikovsky and Duke Ellington; the first live performance of Oliver Nelson’s The Kennedy Dream since the original recording release in 1967 (both with the BSU Jazz Ensemble); and the Langston Hughes Project: Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz with jazz pedagogue, Ron McCurdy. The BSSO performed at the 2016 Indiana Music Education Association Conference.
In 2014, Droste and jazz violinist Christian Howes were invited by the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine to perform and teach as part of an ongoing cultural exchange and engagement. Droste guest conducted the INSO-Lviv Symphony Orchestra in a goodwill concert entitled “Music from the New World” and gave a conducting masterclass to young Ukrainian conductors. Other recent guest conducting includes the orchestras of Columbus, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Midland-Odessa, Fox Valley (Illinois) and the Amarillo Virtuosi, performing as violin/leader on Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 1. Droste will also serve as cover conductor for the Kansas City Symphony. Demonstrating his versatility, Droste has conducted pops concerts with artists such as Ben Folds, The Flaming Lips, Pink Martini, Michael Cavanaugh, John Pizzarelli, and Emily Drennan.
A dedicated advocate of music education, Droste regularly conducts youth orchestras and presents in-service conference sessions throughout the country. He is active as a clinician and adjudicator for school orchestras and festivals, and is affiliated with organizations such as Yamaha, Music For All, American String Teachers Association, and Festival Disney.
A talented violinist, Droste has performed with the orchestras of Fort Wayne, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Nashville, Memphis, Lubbock, and the Lancaster Festival (Ohio). He is a former student of John Gilbert and the late Michael Davis. Droste is also skilled on viola and trumpet, and has sung with a variety of choral ensembles.
Droste has held positions at Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Oklahoma Youth Symphony, Austin Peay State University, and Liberty Union-Thurston School District (Ohio). Droste studied conducting at the Pierre Monteux School, the Oregon Bach Festival with Helmuth Rilling, as well as at other prominent conducting seminars. His primary conducting mentors include Gary Lewis, Larry Rachleff, and Michael Jinbo. Droste holds degrees from The Ohio State University and Texas Tech University.