João Guilherme Ripper was born in Rio de Janeiro, in 1959. He studied Composition and Conducting with Maestro Henrique Morelenbaum, Dr. Ronaldo Miranda and Maestro Roberto Duarte at the School of Music of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, where he also got his Master Degree in Composition. In 1994, he moved to the US to pursue his doctoral studies under composer and violinist Dr. Helmut Braunlich and musicologist Dr. Emma Garmendia at the Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C. Additional studies in orchestral conducting were held in Argentina at the Cuyo University (Mendoza) and Colón Theater (Buenos Ayers), under Maestro Guillermo Scarabino.
While in the Washington area, João Guilherme Ripper helped to create a comprehensive music course for non-professionals at the Adult Education Program of the Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland. He organized the curriculum together with the Program Coordinator, Ms. Martha Price, and taught classes in music theory, harmony, choral singing, orchestration and composition. Additionally, he connected the composition and orchestration classes to the Montgomery County Community Orchestra. During the two years he taught these classes, the Adult Education Music Program in Montgomery County became a respected venue for amateurs to develop their musicianship through composition and performance. Preceding his return to Brazil in 1997, he founded with his composition students the Composers Society of Montgomery County with the dual goal of performing new music and creating bonds with the community. The CSMC (http://csmc.wonderful-music.com) is currently a non-profit organization with approximately 30 members. With the assistance of the Maryland Endowment for the Arts, the CSMC sponsors courses on subjects related to composition and organize recitals with works written by its members.
In 1997, upon his return to Brazil, João Guilherme Ripper resumed his duties of faculty member of the School of Music of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), where he taught Composition, Analysis, Schenkerian Analysis and Harmony. In August 1998, he was appointed Director of Graduate Programs. His major achievements were the academic reorganization of the program structure and curricula update. In 1999, he was appointed Dean of the School of Music by the President of the UFRJ for a four-year term.
Ripper has guest-conducted important Brazilian orchestras as the National Theater Symphony Orchestra (Brasília), Cuyo Symphony Orchestra (Mendoza-Argentina), National Symphony Orchestra (Rio de Janeiro), Sinfonia Cultura Orchestra (São Paulo), and Symphony Orchestra of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Rio). From 2001 to 2005, João Guilherme Ripper was Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Pantanal Chamber Orchestra, in Mato Grosso do Sul. The orchestra was the leading ensemble in the region featuring a varied repertoire that ranges from the classics into popular and new Brazilian music.
João Ripper’s works have been performed in many concert halls in Brazil and abroad. He wrote “Chamber Symphony for Winds” for the Catholic University Wind Ensemble in 1996. The last movement, “Brasiliana,” has been featured in the repertoire of many wind ensembles. In 1999, he was commissioned by the Akron Symphony to write a symphonic work for the celebration of Brazil’s 500th anniversary — “Abertura Concertante” — which was premiered in March 2000 at E.J.Thomas Hall, in Aknron (OH). His chamber opera “Domitila” was awarded the best chamber work of 2000 by the National Critics Association of Brazil. His symphonic works are in the repertoire of important Brazilian orchestras. The cantata “Passio” was performed in a series of four concerts in one of the leading halls in Rio. In July 2003, his third opera “The Dark Angel” received 16 performances in São Paulo. In December 2005, the performances of “The Dark Angel” were listed in the top works of the last eight years. In March 2007, Ripper was the featured composer of the Latin American Festival at Nicholls State University. Recitals dedicated to his works were held both at the Schools of Music of the Louisiana State University and at the School of Music of Nicholls State University, where he conducted the premiere of “Academic Variations” based on the theme of the NSU’s Alma Mater.
João Guilherme Ripper’s “Desenredo” was commissioned and premiered by the Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo in May 2008. In July, he was the featured composer-in-residence of the 39th International Music Festival of Campos do Jordão. For the occasion, he wrote “Olhos de Capitu”, for soprano, narrator and symphony orchestra. The work was performed by the Festival Symphony Orchestra. Ripper’s orchestral works have been included in the artistic season of the major Brazilian orchestras in the last years. Recently, he was commissioned by the Orquestra Petrobras Sinfônica to write an opera to be permiered in April 2012.
Besides his composer’s career, João Guilherme Ripper has been serving as Director of Sala Cecília Meireles since 2004, a leading concert hall in Rio de Janeiro. He has improved the administrative, marketing and artistic areas, introducing an effective fundraising plan, organizing the concert season in thematic series, promoting educational activities, and increasing the number of patrons. Repertoire now ranges from Medieval to Contemporary Music, including Brazilian classical and popular genres like the jazz and the bossa nova. Sala Cecília Meireles is currently undergoing a major renovation that will improve the hall and accessibility.
João Guilherme Ripper is also a member of the Brazilian Academy of Music: an institution that gathers outstanding Brazilian composers, conductors and musicologists.