Steven Byess

Music Director/Conductor

Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra


A dynamic and passionate conductor, Steven Byess is recognized for his distinguished musicianship, innovative programming, passion for music education, and commitment to outstanding educational programs. He has been hailed by critics as "masterful and brilliant," "creating the epitome of instrumental elegance," "a talented interpreter, able to capture the sweep of a piece without neglecting detail," and capturing “the full spirit and vitality of the score perfectly.”


In addition to serving as Music Director of the Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra, he is Music Director of the North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, Music Director of the Portland Columbia Symphony Orchestra (Oregon), and Associate Music Director of the Ohio Light Opera. He formerly held the post of Cover Conductor for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. With the Ohio Light Opera, he has conducted, to critical acclaim, over 500 performances of 70 operas, operettas, and musical theater works, and is featured on nineteen CD recordings by Newport Classics, Albany Records, and Operetta Archives. Mr. Byess was formerly on the faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Music, the University of Denver, California State University–Los Angeles, and the University of Michigan. 


He studied conducting at the Cleveland Institute of Music with Louis Lane and Carl Topilow, with Maître Charles Brück at the Pierre Monteux Memorial School for Conductors, and he was an assistant conductor to Robert Shaw at the Shaw Institute in Souilliac, France. Mr. Byess has been a frequent conductor at the Pine Mountain Music Festival in Michigan, conducting productions of Le tragédie de Carmen (Bizet/Brook), a highly acclaimed production of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, and Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. He recently conducted Weill’s Street Scene at the Eastman School of Music, and Puccini’s La Bohème and a critically acclaimed production of Robert Ward’s The Crucible at the International Vocal Arts Institute in Tel Aviv, Israel. He has conducted at Carnegie Hall with such artists as violinist Alexander Markov, and he is a conductor for the Carnegie Hall Weill Music Institute Link Up orchestra education concerts, performing with over 50,000 children in multiple US communities since 2013. 

Guest engagements for 2016-17 include the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the Maracaibo Symphony Orchestra (Venezuela), the Eastman School of Music Opera Theatre, Intermountain Opera Bozeman (Montana), and opera productions of Die Fledermaus (Strauss), The Tender Land (Copland), Kiss Me Kate (Cole Porter), The Dancing Years (Novello), The Little Dutch Girl  (Kálmán), The Pirates of Penzance (Sullivan), and Amahl and the Night Visitors (Menotti).

He is an ardent food and wine aficionado, a Shakespeare enthusiast, and loves skiing.


PO Box 1723

Bentonville, AR 72712

Tel: 479-841-4644


Tuesday-Friday 10:00am-3:00pm

©2019 Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra and Youth Orchestra

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