Music Director and Conductor


Maestra Barbara Day Turner is the founder and music director of the San José Chamber Orchestra, and its family of youth orchestras. An ardent advocate for new music, she has premiered more than 130 new works just with SJCO. Named the 2012 Silicon Valley Arts Council “On Stage” Artist Laureate, Maestra Day Turner is also Music Administrator and Conductor of the Utah Festival Opera where she has been resident conductor for the past 13 seasons. Most recently she led the Festival’s productions of Barber's Vanessa, Verdi’s Otello and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Abroad, Maestra Day Turner has conducted opera in Berlin and the Thuringian Symphony Orchestra in Germany as well as the Orquesta Sinfónica de Aguascalientes, Mexico. Maestra Turner’s discography includes five recordings with SJCO, the PBS award-winning DVD of George Roumanis’ opera Phaedra, the Naxos release of Alva Henderson’s opera Nosferatu, and a recent critically acclaimed Naxos release of varied works by Howard Hersh entitled Angels and Watermarks. In her many years with Opera San José she premiered Henry Mollicone’s Hotel Eden, Alva Henderson’s West of Washington Square, Craig Bohmler and Daniel Helfgot’s The Tale of the Nutcracker and George Roumanis’ Phaedra besides conducting a vast repertoire of works by Handel, Cavalli, Mozart, Rossini, Puccini, Bizet, Verdi, Britten, Stravinsky, Barber and many others. She has conducted Portland Opera’s Nixon In China, Rimrock Opera’s Aida and concerts with the Silicon Valley, Redwood, South Valley and Billings symphonies and the North Fayetteville orchestra. Other recent appearances include productions of The Crucible, Faust, Kiss Me Kate and Girl Crazy. The Maestra’s upcoming projects include productions of La Boheme and Bon Appetit with Utah Festival Opera, and a new season of premieres and masterworks with SJCO. She is a frequent adjudicator for the Metropolitan Opera national auditions, annually serves as a judge for the Irving M. Klein International String Competition, and serves on the board of directors of the Women's Philharmonic Advocacy and the advisory boards of the Delphi Trio and Opera Neo in San Diego.

Newsworthy Quotes

“Leave it to entrepreneurial conductor Barbara Day Turner and her San José Chamber Orchestra to present some of the most innovative programs presently enjoyed by Bay Area concert-goers.” Arts San Francisco

“…the chamber orchestra’s music director, Barbara Day Turner, continues to produce sparkling, imaginative, and in-your-face programs…” San Francisco Classical Voices

“The musicians in the chamber orchestra performed with the precision necessary for creating intense momentum. And the way the instrumentalists followed their leader’s call for finesse was worthy of the listeners’ standing ovation. The instrumentalists…stand up to standards anywhere.” San José Mercury News

"Conductor Barbara Day Turner wielded a commanding baton that made the orchestration pulse with character and vitality. The top-notch instrumentalists, assembled from near and far, played as one and the Maestra elicited many happy revelations from the rich orchestral writing. She unleashed every bit of passion from the rhapsodic moments, and discovered a beautiful balance with the more straightforward (and sometimes witty) conversational exchanges. Moreover, the conductor was a collegial partner with the singers who were coached to a fare-thee-well. Barbara Day Turner may have just achieved the most accomplished and inspired operatic conducting I have experienced in recent memory." Opera Today 2014 Vanessa, by Samuel Barber