Critics have called Robert Debbaut "a world-class conductor" (Salt Lake Tribune) possessing "an incisiveness verging on the dance" (Kansas City Star) and as "a conductor with the force of emotions in his direction." (Prensa Libre Guatemala). Robert Debbaut has led orchestras and opera companies in the United States as well as in Central and North America, Asia and Europe.
Included among the many ensembles Robert Debbaut has conducted are the Chicago Chamber Orchestra, Chicago Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, Dearborn Symphony, Filharmonia Sudecka (Poland), Guatemala City Municipal Youth Orchestra, Hartford Symphony, International Symphony Orchestra (Canada), Kansas City Civic Orchestra, Kharkiv Philharmonic (Ukraine), Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, North Bohemian Philharmonic, Russia’s Great Novgorod Philharmonic, Saint Petersburg Classical Orchestra, and Yaroslavl Symphony, Shanghai Conservatory Orchestra, Utah Mozart Festival Opera, Utah Opera, Utah Symphony and the National Symphony of Guatemala where he has been a frequent guest conductor during the past two decades including the honor of conducting their 75thanniversary concert in July, 2019. His post-pandemic return will be welcomed there in summer, 2024.
Throughout his career Robert Debbaut has been an arranger and composer. His only composition teacher was the legendary wind composer Claude T. Smith. Dr. Debbaut’s works include “Flight” and “Running,” both for large orchestra, “Suicide Requiem” for SATB chorus and orchestra, “A Trilogy of Joy” for SSAA chorus and piano (a setting of the words of Pulitzer-Prize Winning poet Sara Teasdale), Concertino for Flute, String Quintet, and Piano, “Great New City,” for either full or string orchestra, and Concertino for Tenor Sax and Chamber Orchestra. His most recent arrangements are of the works of Afro-Caribbean violinist/composers Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, and Joseph White, Afro-English composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Viktor Kosenko, a pioneer for music education in the USSR, “Birch Trees,” a collection of four Russian folk songs for SSAA chorus and piano with violin obbligato, and the music of his beloved Mozart, recently creating a concert ending to the overture to his 1777 opera “Il re pastore” (The Shepherd King).
Robert Debbaut holds the degree Doctor of Musical Arts in Conducting from the University of Michigan where he was the first American conductor to be Fellow in Conducting. In addition he studied at the David Oistrakh Festival in Estonia (Prize and Diploma), the International Conducting Workshop in Prague, the Oregon Bach Festival and the Tanglewood Music Center where he was the first recipient of the Maurice Abravanel Award and in the last conducting class of Leonard Bernstein. His teachers and mentors include Maurice Abravanel, Neeme Järvi, Helmuth Rilling and his principal teacher Gustav Meier.