Music Director

2014 Carl HeadshotCarl Topilow
Music Director and Principal Conductor

In his forty years with the National Repertory Orchestra, Maestro Topilow has seen the orchestra reach the forefront of summer music festival programs. Under his direction, the NRO has appeared at the Kennedy Center, the Olympic Festival in Korea, in Taiwan and Japan, for the Pope’s visit to Denver, and at Wolf Trap. Topilow chooses the personnel each year through annual auditions in many cities throughout the United States. He determines the program, selects guest artists and runs seminars and classes during each season.

Topilow’s unique concert approach includes engaging and educating his audiences through musical descriptions and examples, often including visual presentations.  In addition to his duties with the NRO, he also serves as the Conductor and Director of the Orchestral Program of the Cleveland Institute of Music, Music Director and Founding Conductor of the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, and Music Director and Conductor of the Firelands Symphony in Sandusky, OH.   He has performed as guest conductor with more than 115 orchestras, and has conducted in 12 countries and on 4 continents. 

His extensive repertoire contains works from all periods and styles of music. In addition, he is an active clarinetist, often performing with orchestra.  He lives in suburban Cleveland with his wife Shirley, Director of Morgenstern Dance Studios and President and CEO of the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, and daughter Emily, who enjoys her violin and dance classes.  Daughter Jenny is an NRO alumna who is a violinist with the Charlotte Symphony, and who recently welcomed a son, Arlo, to the world to play with his big sister Edie and their dad, Dave Homans. 

(Photo by Sue Bestul, 1972 NRO alumna)