Music Director - Lois Ferrari

Italian-American conductor Lois Ferrari is Professor of Music at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, and has been a member of the faculty since 1993. Dr. Ferrari conducts the SU Orchestra and Wind Ensemble, and also teaches conducting. Her ensembles have premiered many new works (including a full-length opera), performed at professional conferences, and welcomed renowned guest artists. Many of Dr. Ferrari's students have gone on to pursue graduate degrees in conducting at prestigious institutions such as the Peabody Institute, the Ithaca College School of Music, and the University of Houston. Dr. Ferrari also serves as host and clinician for the bi-annual SU Conductors Institute in instrumental conducting. 

As ACO Music Director, Dr. Ferrari was named 1st Runner-Up in 2012 and finalist in 2014 for the American Prize in Community Orchestra Conducting. Judge David Katz remarked that her “…conducting style is reminiscent of the great Margaret Hillis.” In 2010, Dr. Ferrari was also honored as the first woman to conduct an orchestral performance at the Long Center for the Performing Arts (Austin). 

Over the years, Dr. Ferrari has brought many celebrated guest artists to the ACO stage, including David Amram, Peter Bay, Lauren Lane, Jessica Mathaes, Anton Nel, Michelle Schumann, and David Whitwell. She has also been intimately involved with nurturing future virtuosi through the ACO's Pearl Amster Youth Festivals and with the Texas Rising Stars Contest, presented in collaboration with the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas. 

An enthusiastic champion of new music, Maestra Ferrari founded the bi-annual ACO Composition Contest and is proud to have premiered more than twenty works during the course of her career. One such work was nominated by the Austin Critics Table for Best Symphonic Performance of 2009. In 2012, Dr. Ferrari and the ACO were commissioned by composer David Amram to present the Texas premiere of his Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie. In regard to this experience he wrote, "The whole country needs to get behind the arts in their own communities, just as Lois and the ACO are doing in Austin."


A graduate of the Eastman School of Music, where she received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Conducting, Dr. Ferrari received a full doctoral fellowship and was appointed Assistant Conductor of the renowned Eastman Wind Ensemble. She also earned a Master of Music degree in Conducting and a Bachelor of Music degree with a double major in Performance and Music Education from the Ithaca College School of Music. Her principal teachers were Donald Hunsberger, Rodney Winther, David Effron, Pamela Gearhart, Lawrence Doebler, and Donald Neuen.

Additional Activities

When she isn't busy with musical endeavors, Dr. Ferrari loves to indulge an interest in playwriting/screenwriting and has won several awards for her efforts. She is also an avid golfer and mortorcycle enthusiast. Originally a Long Islander, Dr. Ferrari now resides in Georgetown with her husband, Dr. Paul Gaffney, and their two cats, Buddha and Gandhi.
2016-2017 is Lois Ferrari's 15th season with the ACO.