This weekend, University of Arizona Alum and esteemed conductor Keitaro Harada will conduct the Tucson Symphony Orchestra's biggest holiday concert, "The Magic of Christmas."
The production combines the orchestra with Tucson Regional Ballet performers, the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus, the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Chorus and special guests including Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. In addition to serving as conductor, Harada will emcee for the show.
"For me to be able to do this concert – which is the biggest holiday festival concert in the community – is such a dream come true," Harada said. "It's going to be such a fantastic show."
From 2008 to 2010, Harada studied as a fellow in the inaugural UA Rogers Institute for Orchestral and Opera Conducting Fellowship, a three-year program that provides the opportunity to conduct UA music and theater presentations, as well as local professional symphony and opera performances.
Since then, he has directed productions by the Portland Symphony, the Phoenix Youth Symphony, the Moscow Symphony Orchestra and the Tanglewood Music Festival.
He has won or placed in international conducting competitions in Russia, the U.S. and Mexico.
In addition, Harada serves as the principal guest conductor for the Sierra Vista Symphony Orchestra and associate conductor for Arizona Opera.
Earlier this year, Harada was selected by the League of American Orchestras as one of six emerging conductors to guest conduct the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra at the 2013 Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview, a biennial event to promote gifted up-and-coming conductors.
A native of Tokyo, Harada said returning to Tucson feels like coming home.
"I consider Tucson as my American hometown," he said. "To just walk on University, or to the turtle pond, and remember what it was like to be a student is kind of fun."
He credits his formal training at the UA for aiding in his success.
"The UA School of Music and the training I received from Dr. Thomas Cockrell was the most important encouragement for me to jump into my professional career," Harada said. "None of this would have happened if it was not for the training I received from the UA."
"The Magic of Christmas" will be performed Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Tucson Music Hall at the Tucson Convention Center, 260 S. Church Ave. Tickets are available at the box office, or via Ticketmaster online or by calling 800-745-3000.