The American conductor and music pedagogue, Tamara Brooks, graduated from the Juilliard School of Music in New York with degrees in piano and conducting.
Tamara Brooks conducted ensembles around the world. She gave concerts in Israel, Russia, Poland, Taiwan, Japan, Greece, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Germany, England, Wales, Greece and Italy and was principal guest conductor of the Istanbul Symphony in Turkey, conductor of the Cyprus Broadcast Orchestra and guest conductor of the Mozarteum Orchestra (Salzburg). She was also Music Director and Conductor of two bi-national music festivals on the island of Cyprus, where she held a Fulbright Professional Grant. She designed the music curriculum for Cyprus' first school of the arts. In June 2005, she guest conducted the Mostar Symphonietta (Bosnia and Herzegovina) in Poland - with singers Theodore Bikel and Shura Lipovsky in series of concerts called “Bridge to Peace”.
Tamara Brooks founded and was Music Director of Sequenza (a professional instrumental ensemble devoted to contemporary music) and Music Director of Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia for 11 years (1978-1988) - one of America's oldest and most distinguished choruses. With Mendelssohn Club, she made a Grammy nominated recording of choral music of Vincent Persichetti for New World Records which was called "definitive" by both Fanfare and High Fidelity magazines. She has also recorded for Musical Heritage, Arabesque, Centaur, Neuma, Music & Arts and RCA.
A champion of new music, Tamara Brooks performed and commissioned contemporary compositions often with the composer in attendance. Composers with whom she has worked directly have included Takemitsu, Cage, Lutoslawski, Sessions, Druckman, Caltabiano, Tippett, Ligeti, Gunther Schuller, Persichetti, Kim, Sur, Adams, Golijov, Escot, Cogan, Liang and Navok. Early in her career, she prepared major choral works for concerts under the direction of conductors including Eugene Ormandy, Zubin Mehta, Frübeck de Borgos, Tennstedt, Carlo Maria Giulini, Erich Leinsdorf, Rozdesvensky, Rostropovich, Claudio Abbado, Riccardo Muti, and Michael Tilson Thomas.
Tamara Brooks combined a professional conducting career with a love of teaching. As Professor and Conductor, she was on the faculties of Mount Holyoke College, SUNY Albany, Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges, The New School of Music (of which she was the President), University of Iowa, Hamilton College and New England Conservatory and was a guest professor and conductor at Syracuse University, Osaka College of Music and Kyoto City University of Arts.
A frequent guest lecturer in the Arts at major universities and conservatories, Tamara Brooks was also their consultant regarding academic programs. She headed the first Choral Festival in Taiwan and conducted concerts and master-classes at the Glinka Conservatory in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. She was also guest conductor of the Nizhny Novgorod Symphony. She was an editor for Theodore Presser reviews manuscripts of authors before submission for publication for several university presses.
Tamara Brooks' conducting career spanned more than 35 years. The following was written about her performances: (from the Boston Globe) "Everything was drawn out of the music and the situation it depicts and embodies; nothing was superimposed. And this made every moment of it profoundly original ... an unusually searching, indeed sublime, spiritual experience." (from the New York Times) "[The performance was] persuasive... charged with energy and a commanding central vision." (from the Philadelphia Bulletin) "[This] performance of three major 20th century choral works with orchestra, under the vibrant leadership of Tamara Brooks, was a stunning, beautiful experience second to no other musical event of any kind in the city"
Tamara Brooks married the actor, folk singer and musician Theodore Bikel (b 1924) in 2008. She died on May 19, 2012 of a heart attack.