Daniel Nesta Curtis (b.1986) joined the faculty of the School of Music at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA in 2012 as the department’s Resident Conductor and Artistic Director of the CMU Contemporary Music Ensemble. Curtis has conducted performances with the CMU Philharmonic, Chamber Orchestra, Baroque Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, as well as several fully staged opera productions. With the CMU Contemporary Ensemble, Curtis has premiered over 60 compositions by CMU students and faculty members including works by Nancy Galbraith, Leonardo Balada, Marilyn Taft Thomas, and Reza Vali.
From 2011-2013, Curtis was the Assistant Conductor of the Brooklyn Philharmonic where he worked alongside Alan Pierson to produce outside-the-box concert events praised for, “Responding to the histories and needs of its audiences in a way that has been truly inspiring (NY Times, 2012).” Curtis made his debut with the Brooklyn Philharmonic in 2012 conducting Randall Woolf’s Blues for Black Hoodies featuring rapper Wordisbon at the Brooklyn Public Library. A conductor noted for his creative programming and skill with contemporary music of all styles, Curtis collaborated with Pierson and the Brooklyn Philharmonic in groundbreaking concerts that featured neo-soul artist Erykah Badu and hip-hop artist Mos Def with orchestral arrangements by composers Ted Hearne and Derek Bermel.
In November 2016, Curtis made his debut conducting the musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony in an interactive family concert, and in February 2017, debuted with Pittsburgh’s Undercroft Opera conducting a concert performance of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. Curtis has been a frequent guest conductor of several other Pittsburgh-based organizations including Alia Musica and BrassRoots. Curtis previously served as the Associate Conductor of the Bleecker Street Opera Company and Assistant Conductor of the Amor Artis Chorale and period instrument orchestra in New York. Originally from Key West, Florida, Curtis has conducted several orchestras in the Southeast including the Key West Pops Orchestra. Curtis received his BA from Amherst College (2008) and his MM in conducting from Carnegie Mellon University (2012).
Since 2014, Curtis has spent his summers directing the orchestra at the CMU School of Music Pre-College Program, an intensive summer music festival for high-school aged musicians. With nearly a decade of experience training and mentoring high school instrumentalists, vocalists, conductors, and composers, Curtis is passionate about educating the next generation of musicians. Through his work with the CMU summer program, Curtis has assisted dozens of young musicians in preparing for music school auditions, thriving as a music conservatory student, and for a successful career in music. Curtis directs the Millennium Symphony Orchestra, which is hosted by the CMU Pre-College.