Conductor and pianist Paul Schrage appears frequently throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and United States, leading from the podium as well as performing as a solo and chamber artist. He currently serves as Music Director the Midsummer Mozart Festival, as well as Music Director of Symphonia Caritas, a professional orchestra that provides benefit concerts in partnership with other non-profits. Most recently, Paul was named a finalist in the Music Director position with Symphony of the Redwoods, and will guest conduct that orchestra in spring of 2023. In addition, after jumping in at the last minute to guest conduct the San Francisco Civic Symphony he was asked to serve as Principal Guest Conductor for the 2022-23 season. Previously, Paul served as Interim Music Director of the Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra during the 2019-2020 season. Guest Conductor appearances include the Veridian Symphony, Merced Symphony, San Francisco Civic Symphony, San Francisco Academy Orchestra, Nova Vista Symphony, and Sonoma County Philharmonic, among others.
As a pianist, Paul has performed in recital, with orchestras, and in jazz settings across the United States, in Europe, Brazil and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He has performed in such diverse venues as the INSAP Festival in Chicago, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the main square in Warsaw, Casa Huey Barbosa in Rio de Janiero, and with the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste of Kinshasa. Equally at home in the classical and improvisational realms, he frequently performs half classical, half jazz recitals. Artists he has performed with include harpsichordist Jory Vinikour, conductors David Ramadanoff, Armand Diangienda, and Elena Sharkova, trombonist and composer Bobby Brookmeyer, drummers Louis Bellson and Steve Smith, guitarist Gary Wittner, violinists Ian Swensen and Robin Hansen, and singers Christina Major, Kindra Scharich, and Nathan Granner. Paul has strong relationships with living composers, and has performed world premieres of works by Ingrid Stozel, Rubin Zahra, Eric Choate, and Paul Davies, among others. He was the Pianist-in-Residence of the Contemporary American Music Project, where he frequently collaborated with musical theorist and historian Cameron Logan.
Combining his artistic endeavors with extensive experience as an impresario, Paul founded Symphonia Caritas in 2015 and has since partnered with numerous non-profit organizations such as Swords to Plowshares and the Gubbio Project, raising over $100,000 in proceeds that go directly to the partner organizations. In addition to serving as Music Director for the Midsummer Mozart Festival, Paul assists with vital organizational components including fundraising campaigns and providing guidance on programming and concert production.
Released in 2004, Paul’s first solo album showcased the music of Mozart, Liszt, and Copland, as well as original compositions and jazz selections. With the jazz trio the Sideways Trio he released “In Defense of Our Dreams”, alongside drummer Jeff Hanson and bassist Doug Pohorski, featuring arrangements of rock songs, classical works, and original compositions. Paul has served on the piano faculties of Foothill College, Vandercook College of Music, and the International Summer Jazz Academy.
"Paul is a wonderful musician who brings groups together to share great music and inspire audiences celebrating our beautiful art form."
- Ian Swensen, concert violinist