American born conductor Michelle Rakers was the Senior Assistant Director for “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band and Marine Chamber Orchestra from 2004 – 2018. In that capacity, she led the band and orchestra in countless high-profile programs at the White House, in Washington, D.C., and across the country. She conducted ensembles for White House State Dinners, advised and conducted ensembles for White House ceremonies, and led the band on many national tours.
Ms. Rakers is in high demand as a conductor and clinician across the world. She has regularly conducted the Slesvigske Musikkorps in Denmark since 2014 and has conducted groups such as the Odense Symfoniorkester, Maryland Symphony, Saint Louis Symphony Brass, members of the Sønderjyllands Symfoniorkester, Prinsens Musikkorps, Helsinki Guards Band – Sotilasmusiikki, and the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain. She was a resident at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki in 2015 and 2016 and has been a guest conductor at many universities across the United States.
Michelle is a natural on the podium with an elegant yet commanding conducting style, and her rehearsal technique is efficient and effective. Ms. Rakers began her musical training at the age of five with piano lessons and her professional music career at the age of ten, when she became the church organist for her town, Aviston, Illinois. She later focused her musical studies on the trumpet, which eventually led to opportunities performing in symphonies across the United States.
Her career with the Marine Band began in 1998 after she won a national audition for a trumpet position. She then auditioned and was appointed to the Assistant Director’s position, becoming the first female conductor and first female commissioned officer in the history of “The President’s Own,” a position that she held since 2004. Throughout her tenure with the Marine Band, Ms. Rakers was an ardent supporter of educational outreach through her leadership of the organization’s education programs, including the creation of the national concerto competition for high school musicians.
Ms. Rakers earned her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting from The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, her Master of Music degree in Trumpet Performance from Northwestern University, and her Bachelor of Science degree in Music Management from the University of Evansville. Additionally, Ms. Rakers received an Emmy® award for her part in producing the All-Star Orchestra program, “United States Marine Band New England Spirit.” She also received the “Distinguished Alumni” award from University of Evansville and she is an honorary inductee into Tau Beta Sigma, a National Honorary Band Sorority, receiving their “Outstanding Service to Music” award in 2010.