Dr. Alexander Kahn

Director of Orchestral Studies

Alexander Kahn Headshot
GMC 2065

Alexander Kahn is Professor of Music and Director of Orchestral Activities at Sonoma State University. At Sonoma State he directs the Sonoma State Symphony Orchestra and teaches courses in conducting, music history, musicianship, and general education. Alexander comes to Sonoma State from Gettysburg College, where he was Associate Professor of Music and Director of Orchestral Activities at the Sunderman Conservatory of Music. Previous university-level orchestras with whom Alexander has worked include the UC Berkeley Chamber Orchestra (Founder and Music Director) and the UC Berkeley Symphony (Assistant Conductor).

In addition to his educational activities, Alexander has worked with professional and festival orchestras across the United States and throughout Europe. Currently he serves as  Assistant Conductor for the Santa Rosa Symphony, as well as Music Director of the Vintner’s Chamber Orchestra, a professional chamber orchestra that performs at wineries throughout Sonoma and Napa counties. Previous positions he has held include Music Director of the Metta Ensemble (Gettysburg, PA), Cover Conductor for the Baltimore Symphony, Staff Conductor for the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC, Assistant Conductor of the Bamberg Symphony, and Music Director of the Bamberg Collegium Musicum. Recent guest conducting engagements have included work with the Mill Valley Philharmonic, Festival Opera of Walnut Creek, Cazadero Performing Arts Camp, and middle school and high school honor orchestras throughout California.

Alexander earned a PhD in Music History from UC Berkeley and remains active as a scholar. His dissertation entitled “Double Lives: Exile Composers in Los Angeles” focused on the community of European exiles who fled to Los Angeles during the Third Reich. He has lectured and published on this topic and other issues related to World-War II-era music history, as well a on a variety of topics including music and mindfulness meditation, the history of film music, and the history of amateur music-making in America. He is a frequent pre-concert lecturer at Sonoma State’s Green Music Center and regularly gives talks on the Met Opera Live series at the Sebastopol Library. His book on mindfulness and music, Caring for the Whole Musician, is scheduled for release by Routledge Press in 2022.

Alexander’s love of music was inherited from his father, Eugene Kahn, a conductor and educator on Long Island. His primary conducting studies were at UC Berkeley with David Milnes and at the Peabody Institute with Marin Alsop, Gustav Meier and Markand Thakar. He has also participated in workshops with teachers including Larry Rachleff, Kenneth Kiesler, Daniel Lewis and Peter Gülke. 

When not conducting, Alexander enjoys cooking, hiking, reading, and travelling, and spending time with his wonderful wife and daughter