Robert Franz













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Rehearsal with Boise Philharmonic
Rehearsal with Boise Philharmonic
Biography (Summer 2017)
 
As Music Director of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra and Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Orchestra, and Associate Conductor of the Houston Symphony, Robert Franz’s appeal as a first-rate conductor and enthusiastic award-winning educator is acclaimed by critics, composers and audiences of all ages. Composer Bright Sheng praised Franz for his “extremely musical and passionate approach towards music making” and critics hail his “masterly pace, emphasis and technical control” calling his conducting “viscerally thrilling”.
 
Franz is in increasing demand as a guest conductor whose recent engagements include appearances with The Cleveland Orchestra, the Baltimore, St. Louis and Phoenix Symphonies and the Orchestra da Camera Fiorentina in Italy. Earlier guest conducting appearances include Canada’s Victoria Symphony and the Rochester Philharmonic, North Carolina, Columbus, Virginia and San Antonio Symphonies, as well as Musiqa (Houston), Asheville Lyric Opera, the Portland Symphony (ME), South Bend Symphony and the Idaho Falls Symphony. With a wide and varying knowledge of symphonic and operatic works, Franz has worked with some of today’s finest classical soloists, including James Galway, Joshua Bell and Rachel Barton Pine, as well as top pop artists such as Chris Botti, Idina Menzel and Judy Collins.
 
With Sir James with Lady Jeanne Galway
With Sir James with Lady Jeanne Galway
The innovative programs with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra are a prime example of Franz’s philosophy of building partnerships between musical entities. This season, he will lead a celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary with a community-wide performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with 150 choir members and will conduct the world premiere of a fanfare by Jordan Pal. Under his direction, the symphony will collaborate with the poet laureate of Windsor, Marty Gervais, in a poetry and musical presentation of Brahms’ Haydn Variations to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the city of Windsor. This season also includes a semi-staged opera performance of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro and performances with the Canadian Brass.
 
Next spring Franz will inaugurate a symposium for high school orchestra members from the Windsor Symphony; Celaya Conservatory Orchestra from Guanajuato, Mexico and the Detroit Civic Sinfonia for a series of workshops and performances.
 
In his fifth season with the Windsor Symphony, he continues to extend the number of subscription weeks. Known for galvanizing audiences and communities alike, he has developed collaborations with the Windsor International Film Festival in a presentation of Joan of Arc, the Art Gallery of Windsor, the Canadian Historical Aviation Association, The University of Windsor and St. Clair College. Last season he conducted programs featuring musical interpretations of great literary works and an initial Canada 150 Celebration concert featuring Canadian composers or related to the year 1867.
 
Rehearsal with Louisville Youth Orchestra
Mindy Duncan paints while Robert rehearses the Mansfield Symphony in Michael Torke’s “Ash“.
Throughout his career, three basic tenets have guided Franz’s artistic choices: a belief that it is by the highest artistic standards an ensemble will grow and engage its audiences and that nothing attracts the audience to a return visit more than a committed and passionate performance; second that collaborating and building bridges in the community is an essential part of a conductor’s job and finally, that the orchestra must be a strong player in education.
 
In Houston, Franz celebrates his 10th year with the Symphony. A tireless ambassador for children’s musical education, he continues his work to bring the Symphony to its goal of serving more than 100,000 students by the year 2025. His steady progress has almost doubled attendance during his tenure. Last season he was honored as the first member of the orchestra conducting staff with the Raphael Fliegel Award for Visionary Leadership. It was presented to him in recognition of his immense success in advancing the organization’s educational and community engagement activities. He continues to lead the Symphony in a broad range of creative, educational and engaging family concerts including its summer neighborhood concert series and an outreach programs dedicated to bringing music to all of Houston’s communities.
 
This season’s highlights included a concert featuring Overture to an Unwritten Comedy by Healey Willan, Barber’s Violin Concerto and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3. He conducted an innovative series of family concerts and five performances with the Symphony in different communities called Around the Town concerts.
 
Marking his eighth year as Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Orchestra Music Director, Franz continues to provide artistic experiences for talented amateur musicians and students alike. In addition to directing the festival orchestra, he mentors aspiring conductors with his “Art of Conducting” workshop. In past years, Franz brought the orchestra to Denali National Park and Preserve in a performance that marked the first time an orchestra had performed there. Franz conducted a piece about Denali created by Stephen Lias, the artist in residence for the Gates of the Arctic, Wrangell-St. Elias and Glacier Bay national parks. He also directed the orchestra and choir in the world premiere of Mass for the Oppressed by Emerson Eads.
 
This summer, he founded and co-directed the inaugural season of the Idaho Orchestra Institute in association with the Serenata Orchestra. Participants came to the IOI to develop their core artist and establish strong performance practices for years to come.
 
Robert Franz Conducts Italy's Orchestra da Camera Fiorentina
Robert Franz Conducts Italy’s Orchestra da Camera Fiorentina.
ASCAP has recognized Franz for his advocacy in arts education. Under his direction, both the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in 2008 and the Louisville Orchestra in 2001 were awarded the Leonard Bernstein Award for Educational Programming. The Louisville Orchestra’s award led to the creation of an education program for Kentucky Educational Television entitled Creating Music and Stories. Winner of the 2008 BPO/ECMEA Music Educators Award for Excellence, Franz is a avid supporter of arts education, and has created arts education programs for the Carolina Chamber Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Louisville Orchestra, West End Chamber Ensemble and the Winston-Salem Piedmont Triad Symphony, including that organization’s innovative Bolton Research Project. The Idaho Legislature recognized his expertise when he was invited to speak to the education committee. He also spoke on broadening audiences through new music opportunities to the League of American Orchestra’s conference. As Associate Conductor of the Louisville Orchestra, he revitalized an ASCAP award-winning new music concert series and co-hosted In a Different Key, a weekly contemporary classical music radio program on WUOL.
 
In addition to his current posts, Franz was Music Director of the Boise Philharmonic from 2008-2016, The Mansfield Symphony in Ohio from 2003-2010, Resident Conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic from 2005-2009 and Associate Conductor of the Louisville Orchestra from 1997-2006. He has also led the Winston-Salem Piedmont Triad Symphony, the Louisville Youth Orchestra and the Winston-Salem Youth Symphony. He is Music Director Emeritus of the Carolina Chamber Symphony, an orchestra that he founded, and provides educational programming workshops at the National Repertory Orchestra during the summer.
 
Franz received his Master of Music degree in conducting and his Bachelor of Music degree in oboe performance from the North Carolina School of the Arts. He has participated in conducting workshops in the Czech Republic, St. Petersburg (Russia), Nashville, the Festival at Sandpoint and was a participant in the 2005 Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview.
 
When not on the podium, Franz is an avid runner and a proponent of the Alexander technique


Condensed Biography (Summer 2017)
 
As Music Director of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra and the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Orchestra and Associate Conductor of the Houston Symphony, Robert Franz’s appeal as a first-rate conductor and enthusiastic award-winning educator, is acclaimed by critics and composers. In increasing demand as a guest conductor, Franz’s recent appearances include The Cleveland Orchestra, the Baltimore, St. Louis and Victoria Symphonies and the Orchestra da Camera Fiorentina in Italy. This summer he founded and co-directed the inaugural season of the Idaho Orchestra Institute.
 
In his fifth season as Windsor Symphony’s Music Director, Franz continues to extend the number of subscription weeks. Known for galvanizing audiences and communities alike, he has developed collaborations with the Windsor International Film Festival in a presentation of Joan of Arc, the Art Gallery of Windsor, the Canadian Historical Aviation Association, The University of Windsor and St. Clair College. Next spring he will bring together members of youth orchestras from Windsor, Detroit, and Guanajuato, Mexico, for a series of workshops and performances.
 
As Associate Conductor of the Houston Symphony, Franz was recently honored as the first member of the Symphony conducting staff with the Raphael Fliegel Award for Visionary Leadership. It was presented to Franz in recognition of his immense success in advancing the organization’s educational and community engagement activities. He continues to lead the Symphony in a broad range of creative educational and family concerts, including its summer neighborhood concert series, an outreach program dedicated to bringing music to all of Houston’s communities. During his tenure, attendance at family and educational concerts has almost doubled.
 
Franz marks his eighth year as Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Orchestra Music Director by directing the festival orchestra and mentoring aspiring conductors. In past years, he has brought the orchestra to Denali National Park and Preserve in a performance that marked the first time an orchestra had performed there. ASCAP has recognized Franz on two occasions for his advocacy in arts education. Under his direction, both the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Louisville Orchestra were awarded the Leonard Bernstein Award for Educational Programming.