Andrew Altenbach ’97
The time Andrew Altenbach, Class of ’97, spent at Lovett—performing in musicals and at Carnegie Hall, singing in the chorus, and playing the piano in the jazz band—was key in developing the qualities necessary for him to succeed in the arts. Even more important than the skills and techniques he learned was the faculty, who had a profound effect on him. “A career in the arts takes extreme amounts of hard work and passion. The tremendous fine arts faculty at Lovett inspired me to have that passion and drive,” said Andrew.
Noted for his “vividly colorful” and “first rate” performances, Andrew Altenbach has gained acclaim as a conductor of operatic and symphonic literature, as well as a collaborative pianist. He now serves as the Resident Conductor of the Minnesota Opera, where he music directs Die Entführung aus dem Serail this season with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra in the pit. He recently guest conducted with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and will guest conduct the St. Cloud Symphony in February, as well as a concert with the Musical Offering Chamber Music Series this October. Altenbach recently returned from his first summer at the Santa Fe Opera. He served on the music staff there as assistant to the principal conductor, Edo de Waart, for Billy Budd, and as a pianist for Falstaff and Radamisto.
Altenbach studied conducting with Victor Yampolsky and piano with Alan Chow at Northwestern University. His training there included the assisting and conducting of the university symphony and chamber orchestras. Altenbach was also selected as music director for the North Shore Chamber Orchestra and assistant conductor to the Evanston Symphony.
Altenbach later went to Indiana University where he studied conducting with David Effron and piano with Karen Shaw. Again, he worked with the symphony and chamber orchestras there while also becoming established as an associate conductor and coach for the opera program. During this time Altenbach music directed for the Milwaukee Opera Theatre, served as the conducting fellow of the prestigious Chautauqua Institution, and was also invited to guest conduct with the Bloomington Symphony and the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California.
Upon returning to Indiana University he was again assisting his mentor, Randall Behr, when Maestro Behr tragically passed away during rehearsals for Cosi fan tutte. Mr. Altenbach was chosen to take over the production. The production was a great success and gained Mr. Altenbach recognition in OperaNow magazine under "Who's Hot." Mr. Altenbach was then invited to guest conduct for Opera on the James, in Lynchburg, Virginia for productions of Cosi fan tutte and La Tragédie de Carmen.
In the summer of 2006, Mr. Altenbach returned to California to be a coach and assistant conductor for the Merola Opera Program at the San Francisco Opera. In the fall, Mr. Altenbach became the head coach and associate conductor of the Indiana University Opera Theatre. He worked on productions of Don Giovanni, Manon, Hansel and Gretel, Too Many Sopranos, Arabella, and Madame Butterfly. Mr. Altenbach’s accomplishments as a conductor and pianist garnered the recognition of Evans Mirageas, who invited Mr. Altenbach as an assistant conductor for the Cincinnati Opera summer season in 2007. There he worked on successful productions of Cosi fan tutte and Aida. In addition, Mr. Altenbach was invited that summer to the Brevard Music Center in North Carolina, conducting works of Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, and Berlioz.
In the fall of 2007, Mr. Altenbach became the associate conductor of the esteemed Minnesota Opera where he assisted all guest conductors and conducted a performance of Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet to rave reviews. In the Twin Cities, he also serves as the conductor of the Chamber Players of St. Paul, performing works of Respighi, Bach, Vivaldi, and Duruflè, Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Saint-Saens.
Mr. Altenbach has assisted Edo de Waart, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Harry Bicket, Ari Pelto, Giovanni Reggioli, David Effron, Stefan Lano, Richard Buckley, and Timothy Muffitt.
He now resides in the Twin Cities with his wife, Julia.
One of the factors that contributed to Altenbach’s success is the self-confidence he gained through the support of Lovett’s fine arts faculty. “The teachers were very supportive of my decision to become a professional musician. I am indebted to them—they believed in me when I didn’t necessarily believe in myself. I think that might be one of the most important qualities in a teacher.”