About Carl Topilow
Carl Topilow is renowned worldwide for his versatility, whether he is holding a conductor's baton or his trademark red clarinet. He is a multi-talented virtuoso who equally at home in classical and popular music both as conductor and instrumentalist. Carl's pops performances blend light classical, swing, jazz, Broadway, Dixieland, and Klezmer music, usually finding occasion to include a number on his array of brightly colored clarinets. His unique approach to pops programming includes extensive audience involvement and true showmanship.
Following his longtime dream of conducting his own pops orchestra, Carl founded the Cleveland Pops Orchestra. The orchestra, currently in its 20th season, plays to large audiences in Severance Hall and in several other venues throughout Northeast Ohio. The Cleveland Pops Orchestra's diverse, innovative and electrifying programs have been critically acclaimed. The orchestra has two CDs, Music to Grow On, an exciting collection of music for children and adults of all ages, and Live at the Pops, a stirring compilation of music taken from live performances, as well as several sampler CDs used for promotions. A new CD, issued in 2016, commemorates the orchestra's 20th anniversary and includes a selection of live performances selected from concerts over a span from the past decade.
Carl is also Conductor and Director of the Orchestral Program at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He is currently in his 35th year as conductor of the CIM Orchestras, and is also head of the Masters program in orchestral conducting. Graduates of this program can be found as maestros with several leading orchestras.
Carl is about to begin his 38th season as Music Director and Conductor of the National Repertory Orchestra, a summer music festival based in beautiful Breckenridge, Colorado. He has assisted in the training of talented young musicians and conductors for positions in symphonic orchestras in the United States and abroad.
In 2008, Carl was appointed Music Director and Conductor of the The Firelands Symphony Orchestra, based in Sandusky, OH, performing 5 masterworks and 1 outdoor pops concert each season. During Topilow's tenure with the orchestra, the number of subscriptions has increased from 56 to 505.
Carl has also served as Principal Pops Conductor for the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra in Ft. Myers, Florida, as well as for the Toledo Symphony Orchestra.
As a guest conductor, Carl has appeared around the world with 120 orchestras, in 37 states in the USA, as well as orchestras in Canada, China, Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Spain, Switzerland and Venezuela.
In addition to his busy conducting schedule, Carl avidly pursues his passion for performing as clarinetist. He often performs with his brother Arthur, a pianist, and the duo can be heard on three CDs: Come in from the Cold, A View from the Top, and Music of America.
Carl is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, with a degree in clarinet performance and a masters degree in music education. He has held conducting fellowships with the National Orchestral Association with Leon Barzin and the Aspen Music Festival with under Jorge Mester. Carl began his professional career as Exxon Arts Endowment Conductor of the Denver Symphony Orchestra.
Topilow's wife Shirley is President and CEO of the Cleveland Pops Orchestra and Director of the Morgenstern Dance Studio. His daughter, Emily, attends Bowling Green State University where she is majoring in psychology and is a violinist with the university orchestra. His daughter, Jenny, a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music and Carnegie Mellon University, is a violinist with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra.