The American conductor, Joseph Trafton, studied Composition and Conducting at the University of Miami, and in 1998 received a scholarship to study at Vienna’s Universität für Musik. There he was invited to conduct at the open-air festival in Schwäbisch Hall, Germany, and made his conducting debut at the age of 21 with van Dijk’s Cyrano. He returned to America to study conducting at the Eastman School of Music, receiving his Master’s degree in 2002. He has also studied at the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors and at the Conductor’s Institute at Spoleto USA, working with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Robert Ward. He was awarded a Vocal Coaching Fellowship to the Aspen Opera Theater Center, where he assisted David Zinman in Tosca. In 2005 he was one of four active participants invited by Pierre Boulez to study at a summer conducting course in Lucerne, Switzerland. He returned to Lucerne in 2008 to attend master-classes with Bernard Haitink.
From 2003 to 2006, Joseph Trafton served as Associate Conductor and Vocal Coach at the Regensburg City Theater. He conducted 25-35 performances per season, with a repertoire including Der fliegende Holländer, Die Zauberflöte, Fidelio, Cavalleria Rusticana, Pagliacci, The Nutracker, The Diary of Anne Frank, Im Weissen Rössl, and Les Misérables. During his post there, he also pioneered several outreach projects; for the Prague Arts Festival in Regensburg, for example, he created and conducted an Orchestra-interactive project in which the audience, reading graphic notation and responding to conducting cues, played percussion in combination with the Quartet by Martinu.
In Braunschweig, Joseph Trafton has conducted numerous repertoire performances of Der fliegende Holländer, La Bohéme, La Traviata, La Cenerentola, Die Csárdásfürstin, Fiddler on the Roof, among others. He has been the Musical Director of several productions, including the Richard Ayers’ The Cricket Recovers, a revival of Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi, the Georges Bizet/Shchedrin Carmen-Suite with the dance theater, Juliane Klein’s Westzeitstory, and Schaf - Baroque opera pastiche for children.
Equally at home in the symphonic realm, in 2004 Joseph Trafton was appointed Music Director of the University of Passau Student Orchester, where he conducted Dvorak’s Cello Concerto, as well as works by Bruch, Johannes Brahms, Schubert, and Sibelius, to critical acclaim. In Braunschweig and Regensburg, he has conducted numerous children’s concerts with orchestra, including Peter and the Wolf, Wüsthoff’s Kuscheltierkonzert, and George Antheil’s Sixth Symphony in a multimedia concert for high school students. Through competitive auditions and master-classes, he has conducted numerous symphony orchestras, including the Cleveland Orchestra, Florida Orchestra, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra, Göttingen Symphony, Pierre Monteux Festival Orchestra, OSSIA Ensemble, Eastman Conductors’ Orchestra, and University of Miami Symphony Orchestra.
Joseph Trafton is currently the associate 1st Kapellmeister at the Nationaltheater Mannheim. New productions this season include Lucia di Lammermoor and a world premiere of Neumond by Lucia Ronchetti. He also conducts La Gioconda, La Boheme, Bernhard Lang’s Montezuma, Macbeth, My Fair Lady, and the ballet Rilke, with music from Alban Berg, Anton Webern, Ferruccio Busoni, and Charles Ives. In Mannheim he also conducts the popular family symphonic concert series. Recent guest conducting appearances include Verdi’s Il Trovatore at the Staatstheater Oldenburg, as well as a Gala Concert with the Kammerphilharmonie Ascania. As associate conductor and vocal coach at the Staatstheater Braunschweig, Trafton conducted repertoire performances ranging from Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor to Strauss’s Wiener Blut. He was also the Music Director for a commissioned project of a rock/latin version of G. Bizet’s Carmen, called Carmen - High School Opera.