S. Shade Zajac is a freelance conductor, composer and cellist. He is the Principal Conductor and
Music Director of both the Genesee Symphony Orchestra and the Finger Lakes Symphony
Orchestra. He was appointed to these positions in the Spring of 2016 and 2017, respectively.
After appearing as a guest conductor in 2019 and 2020, Mr. Zajac was chosen to be the next
Conductor and Music Director for the Orchard Park Symphony Orchestra.
Mr. Zajac has conducted the Nazareth College Chamber Orchestra, Nazareth College Symphony
Orchestra and the OpusWerkes No.2 on numerous occasions. He was a student of Professor
Nancy Strelau and has been a guest conductor of her orchestra, the Greater Rochester Women’s
Philharmonic. Mr Zajac was awarded the Paul Vermel 2015-2016 Apprenticeship with the
Northwest Symphony Orchestra in Chicago, working with Maestro Kim Diehnelt. He was also
accepted as a Fellow in the BCO December 2015 Workshop under the direction of Maestro
Markand Thakar, where he conducted the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra in selections such as
Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings”. In the spring of 2016, Mr. Zajac was an active participant
in the 8th Ithaca International Conducting Master Class with Maestros Donald Schleicher and
Dr. Jeffery Meyer. He led the Ithaca College Chamber and Symphony Orchestras in
performances of Berio’s Folk Songs for Mezzo Soprano and Orchestra, and Mahler’s Fourth
Symphony. In March 2018, he conducted the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the Genesee
Symphony Orchestra featuring David Kim, Concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Mr.
Kim will return to the Genesee Symphony Orchestra during the 2021/2022 season performing
the Brahms Violin Concerto.
Mr. Zajac is founder of the Seneca Summer Music Festival and Orchestra, providing events that
include chamber music and orchestra performances. Emphasis is placed on raising funds for
charities and offering classical music to surrounding communities in upstate New York. In 2018,
the Genesee Symphony Orchestra performed a special concert as part of the festival.
Mr. Zajac is the founding member of the Asteria Quartet, which performs frequently around
upstate New York. As an orchestra player, Shade was Principal Cellist of the Nazareth College
Chamber and Symphony Orchestras and has sat as Principal Cellist in the Roberts and Wesleyan
College Community Orchestra. He was the winner of the Nazareth College Concerto/Aria
Competition both in 2012 and 2014 under the tutelage of Professor Mimi Hwang, and continues
to perform solo and chamber music concerts frequently around the Rochester and Finger Lakes
area. Shade is also an accomplished drummer, recording and performing in a rock band called
“The Third Half”.
A prolific composer, Mr. Zajac has written music for solo cello (commissioned by Pro. Mimi
Hwang), a cello sonata, piano concerto, violin concerto, seven string quartets, and pieces for
percussion ensemble, chamber groups and orchestra. In April 2016, he completed his first
symphony in which he dedicated to his teacher Nancy Strelau, the Greater Rochester Women’s
Philharmonic and the Nazareth College Symphony Orchestra. In October 2018, the Genesee
Symphony premiered “Electric Dream for Acoustic Orchestra” which he wrote for the Orchestra.