Aaron Kaplan, conductor and cellist, enjoys a multifaceted musical career as a conductor, musical director, cellist, music educator, and arranger. Aaron earned a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign under the tutelage of Donald Schleicher. He earned his bachelor’s degree in cello performance and bachelor’s degree in music education with high honors also from the University of Illinois.
Aaron is currently the assistant orchestra director at Glenbrook North and Glenbrook South High Schools in Northbrook and Glenview, IL where he co-teaches the orchestra classes, is the assistant conductor of the Glenbrook Symphony Orchestra, teaches AP Music Theory, writes orchestrations for both schools’ annual variety shows, and conducts the annual Glenbrook musical. He is also on the faculty at the Music Institute of Chicago where he conducts the Preludio Orchestra, is the assistant director of the Chicago Suzuki Institute, and recently appeared on 98.7 WFMT’s Introductions conducting the Music Institute Cello Choir. Previous positions include: Interim Conductor of the Quad City Youth Symphony Orchestras and Music Director/Conductor for the Sangamon Valley Youth Symphony and Community Orchestra in Springfield, Illinois. In 2013, Aaron stepped in at the last minute to conduct the opening night performance of The Nutcracker with Sinfonia da Camera and the Champaign Urbana Ballet. Aaron has continued his conducting studies at workshops in the United States and Europe with Gustav Meier and Larry Rachleff, and has conducted the Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic (Czech Republic) and the New Symphony of Bulgaria.
A passionate advocate of the American musical theatre, Aaron has been the music director/conductor for nearly 60 musicals (with complete orchestration) including West Side Story, Les Misérables, RENT, Chess, Guys & Dolls, Fiddler on the Roof, and The Producers. He was invited to conduct the orchestra for the Illinois High School Theatre Festival All-State Production twice; in 2013 for Memphis (premiere amateur production) and in 2017 for Sweeney Todd. Aaron also conducted the musical productions for the Allerton Barn Festival (Monticello, IL) in both 2013 (Of Thee I Sing) and 2014 (On the Twentieth Century). He is currently on the board of directors for the Champaign-Urbana Theatre Company, Highland Park Players, and was the co-founder/co- president of Illini Student Musicals. From 2011-2013, he co-taught a musical theatre course at the University of Illinois for undergraduate students.
An active cellist, Aaron is currently a member of Sinfonia da Camera and the Heartland Festival Orchestra. He has also performed with the Champaign-Urbana Symphony, Quad City Symphony, and Illinois Symphony Orchestra. He has served as a guest cello and conductor clinician for the Hyde Park Youth Symphony, East Central Illinois Youth Orchestra, Illinois Summer Youth Music and the Chicago Suzuki Institute. As a freelance arranger, Aaron has written arrangements and orchestrations for numerous musical ensembles including Sinfonia da Camera, musical theatre cabarets, and the Chicago-based band Marina City.
At the University of Illinois, Aaron was the recipient of the Theodore Presser Award in Music, the University of Illinois College of Fine and Applied Arts Talented Student scholarship, and three Division Achievement Awards for the String and Music Education divisions. Aaron conducted the University of Illinois Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia, Illini Strings, Opera Studio Orchestra, was cover conductor for The Barber of Seville, and held a graduate assistantship as the General Manager for the UI Symphony Orchestra.
Aaron began studying cello at the age of 5 with Holly Compton, and then continued with Blake Brasch, Ani Aznavoorian, and Brandon Vamos, and chamber music with Stefan Milenkovich and the Pacifica Quartet. His conducting mentors include Gustav Meier, Larry Rachleff, and his teacher, Donald Schleicher.