Pratik Gandhi is a conductor, percussionist, and clinician based in Toronto. He currently serves as music director of the Rouge River Winds and of Soup Can Theatre, and resident conductor of the Toy Piano Composers Ensemble. He also recently completed a five-year tenure as assistant conductor of Symphony on the Bay, and an apprenticeship with Orchestra Toronto.
Pratik was recently named a finalist for the music director position with the Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra . In March 2020, he will lead the orchestra in a program of works by Beethoven, Schumann, and Odawa First Nations artist Barbara Croall. Other highlights for 2019-20 include the 10th anniversary season of the Rouge River Winds, as well as The Great War Sextet, a new work for trombone and strings by composer Benjamin Sajo, of which Pratik will be conducting the premiere in Ottawa during the 2019 Remembrance Day weekend.
In frequent demand as a guest conductor and adjudicator across southwestern Ontario, Pratik serves as adjudicator and Vice-Chair (Syllabus and Sight-reading) for the concert band division of MusicFest Canada, as well as syllabus coordinator for the OBA Concert Band Festival. He recently adjudicated concert bands at the 2017 Alberta International Band Festival in Calgary. Pratik regularly presents workshops on repertoire, percussion pedagogy, and technology, including a recent workshop on the use of social media in the music classroom for the Ontario Music Educators’ Association.
In recent seasons, Pratik has conducted performances of Beethoven's Triple Concerto, Brahms' Haydn Variations, and Sibelius' Third Symphony, as well as works by Bach, Chopin, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Mozetich, and Tchaikovsky, among others. He was awarded the Ontario Band Association’s Conducting Excellence Award for three consecutive years, from 2017 through 2019. In December 2013, he directed a semi-staged production of Hansel and Gretel with Symphony on the Bay, which was deemed "a musical and organizational triumph". He also served on faculty as conductor of the string orchestra, symphony orchestra, and faculty string orchestra at the International Music Camp in 2012.
Pratik’s conducting experience covers a wide variety of genres and repertoire. He has led orchestras in performances of symphonies, concertos, and overtures; he has served as music director for stage works including operas, musicals, and cabarets; and he has conducted chamber ensembles, wind bands, choirs, and many different collaborative projects. Collaborative music-making is one of Pratik’s passions, and he particularly enjoys directing works for multiple performing forces.
His work with Soup Can Theatre has received rave reviews. In 2014, he composed a piece and commissioned three others for Soup Can's innovative co-production Circle Jerk; the music was called "gorgeous and wildly entertaining" and "phenomenal". Their 2013 production of Barber's A Hand of Bridge, for which Pratik served as both stage director and musical director, made "a powerful impression", and delivered "an abundance of emotion and meaning"; it was also nominated for Best Indie Production of 2013. Later that year, he directed the music for their hit Fringe show Love is a Poverty You Can Sell 2: Kisses for a Pfennig, in which the orchestra was said to have made the show "immediate and vibrant and lovely", and whose cast was named one of the festival's outstanding ensembles. His musical direction of their summer 2011 staging of Peter Weiss’ Marat/Sade was hailed as "top-notch", and “the strongest part of the production...just the right dramatic edge”. Most recently, Pratik arranged and directed the music for Soup Can’s widely acclaimed adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, set in Toronto’s historic Campbell House; according to one review, the music successfully served as “a barometer of the health of the scenes” of the show.
Pratik is also a champion of new music, and has conducted the premiere of numerous works, including Jodi Vander Woude’s Quiet you with my love: lullaby, for soprano solo, female chorus, and large orchestra, and Kristie Hunter's Stronger Than, for orchestra. In 2008, Pratik was selected to participate in the Windsor Symphony Orchestra’s conductor-composer workshop, premiering John Leigh, by Brenden Fraser. As part of Toronto's Cultural Hotspot initiative, Pratik led the Greater Toronto Philharmonic Orchestra in a concert in June 2015 that included new music by Frank Horvat and John W.N. Palmer. With the Toy Piano Composers, Pratik has directed the premieres of works by Daniel Brophy, Elisha Denburg, Joseph Glaser, Colin Labadie, August Murphy-King, Julia Mermelstein, Monica Pearce, Dr. Fiona Ryan, Bekah Simms, and Tyler Versluis, among others. Pratik is credited as conductor on two albums of contemporary music: Bekah Simms’ impurity chains (conducting two tracks, including the Juno-nominated “Granitic”), and the Toy Piano Composers’ self-titled debut album.
As a freelance percussionist, Pratik is frequently called upon to play with orchestras, wind bands, chamber ensembles, and in pit orchestras. He has played timpani for Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Haydn’s Creation, Holst’s The Planets, and Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, among other works, and was recently featured with Mark Toews in a performance of Poulenc’s Concerto for organ, timpani, and strings. In 2011, he travelled to Ottawa with the Toronto Wind Orchestra to perform in Southam Hall at the National Arts Centre as part of the evening showcase concert series with MusicFest Canada. In 2006 he presented a recital called “Mostly Marimba”, which included performances of the Pitfield Sonata and Gareth Farr’s Kembang Suling: Portraits of Asia, for flute and marimba.
Pratik received a B.Mus. in music education and an M.Mus. in conducting from the University of Western Ontario, where he studied conducting with Dr. Colleen Richardson, Jerome Summers and James McKay, and percussion with Dr. Jill Ball. He received numerous entrance and in-course scholarships and awards, including the Western Scholarship of Excellence, the London Music Scholarship Foundation Endowment Award, and the Silver Medal for Excellence in Leadership. During his graduate work, he also founded and directed a string orchestra called Gli Archi, which presented two full-length concerts and recorded several new works for local composers including Anthony Aceti and Jeff Smallman.