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Exploring America's Underappreciated Classical Music Traditions09:28

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Composer Leonard Bernstein conducting at London's Royal Festival Hall in 1963. Current Oakland East Bay Symphony conductor Michael Morgan idolized and later worked with Bernstein. (Evening Standard/Getty Images) closemore
Composer Leonard Bernstein conducting at London's Royal Festival Hall in 1963. Current Oakland East Bay Symphony conductor Michael Morgan idolized and later worked with Bernstein. (Evening Standard/Getty Images)

Michael Morgan has known he wanted to be a conductor since he was 8 years old. A product of the public schools in Washington, D.C., he learned piano and idolized Leonard Bernstein, a man with whom he would later work.

Today, he is the musical director and conductor of the Oakland Symphony and artistic director of the Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra, where he works to share his love of classical music with young public school students not unlike his younger self.

As part of Here & Now's occasional series exploring the wide breadth of American music, Morgan shares his thoughts on what music he believes is quintessentially American.

Note: All recordings performed by and courtesy of the Oakland Symphony.

Correction: The interview audio incorrectly identifies the Oakland Symphony by its former name, the Oakland East Bay Symphony. The Oakland Youth Orchestra has also changed its name, to the Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra. 

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  • Michael Morgan, musical director and conductor of the Oakland Symphony and artistic director of the Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra.
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