Conner Gray Covington is currently in his third season with the Utah Symphony as Associate Conductor and was recently named Principal Conductor of the Deer Valley® Music Festival, the summer home of the Utah Symphony. Covington recently made his subscription debut with the Utah Symphony stepping in on short notice for an injured Thierry Fischer on a program of Andrew Norman and Gershwin. He conducts another subscription weekend in January as well as a gala performance with Joshua Bell later in the season. During his tenure in Utah so far, Covington has conducted over 200 performances of classical, education, film, pops, and family concerts as well as tours throughout the state. Previously, he was the Rita E. Hauser Conducting Fellow at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where he worked closely with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra and the Curtis Opera Theater while also being mentored by Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Covington made his Carnegie Hall debut with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra sharing the podium with Ludovic Morlot. He began his career as Assistant Conductor of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of the Memphis Youth Symphony Program. A three-time recipient of a Career Assistance Award from the Solti Foundation U.S. (2019, 2017 and 2014), he worked with the Nashville Symphony as a featured conductor in the 2016 Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview presented by the League of American Orchestras.
Covington has worked as a guest conductor with the symphonies of St. Louis, Utah, Virginia, Portland (ME), Monterey (CA), and the Oregon Mozart Players, and in the 2019-2020 season he will make debuts with the San Diego Symphony, North Carolina Symphony and the Reno Chamber Orchestra as well as a return engagement with the Kansas City Symphony. He has served as a cover conductor for the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, San Diego Symphony, and the Florentine Opera Company (Milwaukee, WI). He has also worked with the Tonhalle Orchester Zürich as part of the 6th International David Zinman Conducting Masterclass. In 2014, Covington was selected by members of the Vienna Philharmonic to attend the Salzburg Festival as a recipient of the Ansbacher Fellowship for Young Conductors. In 2012, Covington competed in the prestigious Malko Conducting Competition in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he conducted the Danish National Symphony for a jury headed by Lorin Maazel and was the youngest participant to advance to the third round. Covington also worked with the New Japan Philharmonic in the 2012 Tokyo International Conducting Competition and advanced to the semi-final round.
In the summers of 2011 and 2012, Covington attended the Aspen Music Festival as a fellowship student in the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen where he worked closely with Robert Spano, Larry Rachleff, and Hugh Wolff as well as other guest conductors throughout the summer. He has also conducted the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra in a masterclass with Miguel Harth-Bedoya and for two summers studied at the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors.
Covington grew up in East Tennessee and began playing the violin at age 11. He completed high school at the renowned High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, Texas. He then went on to study violin with Dr. Martha Walvoord and conducting with Dr. Clifton Evans at the University of Texas at Arlington where he graduated summa cum laude with a degree in violin performance. He continued his studies with Neil Varon at the Eastman School of Music where he earned a MM in orchestral conducting and was awarded the Walter Hagen Conducting Prize.