About Us

Music Director Timothy Muffitt

Now in his 14th season as Music Director and Conductor of the Baton Rouge Symphony, Timothy Muffitt continues to appear with other prominent orchestras around the country. Recent seasons have included return engagements with the San Francisco Symphony and the Long Beach Symphony along with his debut at The Hollywood Bowl. Other recent engagements have taken Muffitt to the St. Louis, Tulsa, Wichita, Houston, Phoenix, Edmonton, and Spokane Symphonies, Columbus Ohio’s Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra, the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Virginia Symphony, the Grant Park Music Festival Orchestra in Chicago and the Harrisburg (PA) Symphony among others. Muffitt is also Music Director of the Lansing Symphony Orchestra, a position he has held for 7 years.

Along with continued growth in artistic excellence, Muffitt’s work has been marked by innovative, imaginative programming. A strong proponent of community arts education, Muffitt has been very active in the venues of radio and lecture, presenting arts-enrichment programs through a variety of formats for diverse audiences.

Formerly Associate Conductor with the Austin Symphony, Muffitt was also Artistic Director of the Louisiana Philharmonic’s Casual Classics Series in New Orleans. It was for his work in that position, that Mr. Muffitt was awarded a Certificate of Meritorious Service from the American Federation of Musicians.

Prominent performers and composers with whom Mr. Muffitt has worked include Yo-Yo Ma, Renee Fleming, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Andre Watts, Alicia de Larrocha, Pinchas Zukerman, Van Cliburn, Lynn Harrell, Itzhak Perlman, and composers John Cage, Joseph Schwantner, Ellen Taffe Zwilich, John Harbison, Joan Tower and Bernard Rands among others. In addition to his work with professional orchestras, Mr. Muffitt is also Music Director of the Chautauqua Institution’s Music School Festival Orchestra, one of the country's premiere orchestral training ensembles.

Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Mr. Muffitt began his musical studies at age seven on the piano and later added viola and trumpet. He received his conducting training at the Eastman School of Music, studying with David Effron, where he earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree.

Assistant Conductor David Torns

In his current post as Assistant Conductor of the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, David Torns continues to garner a reputation as a vibrant, young conductor bringing creativity, enthusiasm and warmth to every performance.

Prior to his appointment in Baton Rouge, Torns served as Assistant Conductor of the Symphony of the Mountains, and Music Director of the Symphony of the Mountains Youth Orchestra in Kingsport, Tennessee.

Mr. Torns has appeared with orchestras including the Vanderbilt University Symphony, Nashville Youth Symphony, West Virginia University Symphony, the North Carolina School for the Arts “Musica Piccola” Orchestra, and the Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestra.

He debuted with the Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre in 2010, conducting the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra in “The Nutcracker, A Tale from the Bayou”. Upcoming engagements include the California All-Southern Honor Orchestra and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra.

With a passionate commitment to music education for all ages, Mr. Torns has conducted the Louisiana Youth Orchestras since 2003. He designs and implements engaging educational concerts, reaching over 10,000 students each year.

Mr. Torns is an alumnus of many prestigious music festivals throughout the country including the Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts, Sewanee Summer Music Festival, and the Chautauqua Institution. He has attended the Conductors Institute of South Carolina and the Conductors Institute at Bard, performing in master classes with artists such as Harold Farberman, Marin Alsop, Apo Hsu, Guillermo Figueroa, Karen Deal, Eduardo Navega, Leon Botstein, Donald Portnoy, Samuel Jones, and Paul Vermel. During the summers of 2010 and 2011, he attended the Conductors Retreat at Medomak, working with Kenneth Kiesler.

In 2009, Mr. Torns was selected as a participant in the first Conductors Symposium with the Omaha Symphony, performing in master classes with Thomas Wilkins and Mark Gibson. Selected for the American Symphony Orchestra League’s Donald Thulean Conducting Workshop in Atlanta, he also worked with James Paul, Robert Spano, and Michael Morgan.

A graduate of the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University and the College of Creative Arts at West Virginia University, Torns began his musical studies at the age of five on the violin in his native city of San Diego, California. His violin teachers have included Mary Gerard, Cornelia Heard, Dr. Laura Kobayashi, Jacques Israelievitch and Vasile Beluska. Conducting teachers have included Robin Fountain, Emelyne Bingham, Lawrence Christianson, Kathleen Shannon, Don Wilcox, Cyrus Ginwala, and Timothy Muffitt.

Chorusmaster David Shaler

David Shaler is the Director of Music and Arts at Broadmoor United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge. He has served there for 11 years as a conductor of choral and instrumental ensembles, and also as a singer, pianist, and trumpet player. Prior to coming to Louisiana, he conducted church choirs in Georgia and Iowa. He received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Iowa and has conducted collegiate choirs at that institution, as well as Coe College in Iowa.

Mr. Shaler sang as a countertenor for five seasons with the professional male ensemble, Chanticleer, touring nationally and internationally in concert and making several recordings. As a countertenor soloist, he has sung for collegiate and community groups, including for the Baton Rouge Symphony and Chorus in their 2004 Messiah concert. He sang as a chorister with the Atlanta Symphony Chorus under Robert Shaw for two seasons (1986-1988), which included a European tour and several recordings. He has also participated in professional choral workshops at Carnegie Hall with conductors Robert Shaw, Peter Schreier, and Helmuth Rilling.