Roger Zahab

  • Teaching Professor
  • Director of the University of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies
  • DEI Committee


Orchestral Conducting; Violin Performance; Composition; Chamber Music Coaching; Writing on Music.


I enjoy instigating fairly complex and unpredictable interactions through my activities as teacher, violinist/violist, conductor, composer, and writer, and feel that each aspect of my work is informed and enhanced by the others. My current concerns are centered on exploration of the ways in which music is formed out of time and memory, the practice of music as an essential part of life (as contrasted with “lifestyle”), and finding ways to teach others how to navigate through their own unique musical lives.

As a violinist, I have given more than a hundred first performances and championed music by a wide range of composers from John Cage to Eric Moe, Kwabena Nketia and Tison Street to Judith Weir and Christian Wolff. Recordings as violinist, composer and conductor are available on the Truemedia, Albany, Centaur, and Koch International Classics labels. My version of John Cage’s Thirteen Harmonies for violin and keyboard instrument is published by C.F.Peters. My coaching and conducting repertoire encompasses the history of ensemble music from Guillaume de Machaut up to the present.

My works have been performed throughout the world by such soloists and ensembles as cellists David Russell and Lawrence Stomberg, kayagum artist Heesun Kim, violinist Nathalie Shaw, flutist Lindsey Goodman, pianists Robert Frankenberry, Eric Moe and Bennett Lerner, guitarists John Muratore and James Marron, and The Furious Band, California E.A.R. Unit, IonSound Project and Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble. Recent works include vioentelechron for violin and orchestra, at the piano in honor of favorite pianists, Akron Chronogram for large orchestra with video by Laura Ruth Bidwell commissioned by the Akron Symphony Orchestra, Christopher Wilkins, music director, to celebrate its 60th anniversary, and a chamber music version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which can be performed in a range of settings from concert to theater. I am also a founding core faculty member of the MFA in Music Composition at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Recent Courses

  • Instrumentation/Orchestration
  • Composition
  • Fundamentals of Western Music
  • violin/viola (MUS 515/516)
  • chamber music
  • Symphony Orchestra (MUS 0620)

Selected Recent Compositions

entelechron symphonies (2016) for orchestra (celebrating the University Symphony Orchestra’s 40th anniversary)

green emotion censer (2015) for the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble (celebrating their 40th anniversary)

I doubt this is over (2015) commissioned by, written and dedicated to IonSound Project

Evening on 57th Street  (2014) for solo violin and string orchestra

Fierce boys with stilettos (2014) for string quartet

Interlace (2013) for violin and piano

Autumn Rose (2013) for flute, violin, viola and cello

Composition Recordings

...some measures for living, George Pope, flute, Eric Charnofsky, piano –Some Measures for Living, Crystal Records , CD718

I still dream for double second steel drums & Jump for two double second steel drums, recorded by Josh Quillen on: Steel Drums (available on Bandcamp.)

entelechron: time + memory - chamber music by Roger Zahab performed by Roger Zahab, violin; Eric Moe, piano; David Russell, cello (Ohio entelechron)

deceived by starlight performed by vibraphonist Dale Speicher (Seattle Percussion Collective)

levitation of pianos during a waltz performed by pianist Eric Moe (Albany Records)

Earth’s Jig and Silence Orchids performed by pianist Bennett Lerner (Albany Records)

Verging Lightfall with John Cage: Thirteen Harmonies performed by Roger Zahab, violin and Eric Moe, piano (Koch International Classics)

Recent Commissions

I doubt this is over (2015) commissioned by, written and dedicated to IonSound Project

Happy Hour! (2014) with libretti by Laci Corridor, Jonah Eisenstock, Josh Ginsburg, Wei He, Barbara Jwanouskos, Tracy Held Potter, Stephen Webb and Roger Zahab, commissioned by the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Jonathan Eaton, artistic director for SummerFest 2014

In the moment (2014) commissioned by the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, for their exhibit: Small Prints, Big Artists: Masterpieces from the Renaissance to Baroque.

Penthouse Suite (2013), libretto by Robert Handel, commissioned by the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh

Presidential Suite (2012), libretto by Robert Handel, commissioned by the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh

Akron Chronogram (2011) with video by Laura Ruth Bidwell, commissioned by the Akron Symphony Orchestra in honor of its 60th anniversary

interwoven graces (2010) commissioned by Phoenix Concerts in New York City for The Hymn Tune Project and The Finisterra Piano Trio

Education & Training

  • MM, State University of New York at Stony Brook, 1980


Violin and Viola

Main Department Affliliation

Senior Lecturer

Other Department Positions

Director of the University of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Director of Undergraduate Studies