Robert Franz













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Robert with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra
Robert with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra
Biography (Fall 2018)
 
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. His guest conducting appearances for this season include the Winston-Salem Symphony, the Reno Chamber Orchestra and Opera Idaho. Earlier guest conducting appearances include Canada’s Victoria Symphony and the Rochester Philharmonic, and 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
In his sixth season as Music Director with the Windsor Symphony, Franz was recently recognized by The Windsor Endowment for the Arts with its Arts Leadership Award in Performing Arts. The awards are presented to prominent artists who foster a vibrant local arts community. The WSO celebrated its 70th season last year and enjoyed its best year to-date, which included a record seven sold-out performances. Recent collaborations include the Windsor International Film Festival, the Art Gallery of Windsor, the Canadian Historical Aviation Association and the University of Windsor. The WSO’s 2018/2019 season will showcase Franz’s versatility with programs such as the Canadian premiere of Heather Schmidt’s Lunar Reflections (full orchestra version), a collaboration with Toronto based Kamancello, an ensemble dedicated to building bridges between western classical music and middle eastern music, along with the world premiere of Scylla, Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra by composer Jordan Pal. Committed to music education for students of all ages, last season he led the first ever Conductor’s Guild Workshop to train conductors in the art of creating and presenting effective student concerts.
 
In Houston, Franz celebrates his 11th year as Associate Conductor with the Symphony. A tireless ambassador for music 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. Recently 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 education 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 outreach programs dedicated to bringing music to all of Houston’s communities.
 
Rehearsal with Louisville Youth Orchestra
Mindy Duncan paints while Robert rehearses the Mansfield Symphony in Michael Torke’s “Ash“.
Marking his ninth 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. This season he will lead a series of concerts joined by several conducting fellows from across the US who attend his 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.
 
As Founder and Music Director of the Idaho Orchestra Institute, now in its second year, Franz oversees an intensive experience designed for college and advanced high school musicians. The program, focused on developing the complete artist, takes young musicians on an exploration of major orchestral repertoire while developing a deeper connection with their core artist.
 
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.
 
Robert Franz Conducts Italy's Orchestra da Camera Fiorentina
Robert Franz Conducts Italy’s Orchestra da Camera Fiorentina.
Throughout his career, three basic tenets have guided Franz’s artistic choices: first, a belief that it is by the highest artistic standards that 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 addition to his current posts, Franz was Music Director of the Boise Philharmonic from 2008 to 2016 and The Mansfield Symphony in Ohio from 2003 to 2010, Resident Conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic from 2005 to 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 and 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 (Fall 2018)
 
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. His guest conducting appearances for this season include the Winston-Salem Symphony, the Reno Chamber Orchestra and Opera Idaho.
 
In his sixth season as Windsor Symphony’s Music Director, Franz was recently recognized by The Windsor Endowment for the Arts with its Arts Leadership Award in Performing Arts. The WSO celebrated its 70th season last year and enjoyed its best year to-date, which included a record seven sold-out performances. Recent collaborations include the Windsor International Film Festival, the Art Gallery of Windsor, the Canadian Historical Aviation Association and the University of Windsor. The WSO’s 2018/2019 season will showcase Franz’s versatility with programs such as the Canadian premiere of Heather Schmidt’s Lunar Reflections (full orchestra version), collaboration with the Toronto-based Kamancello, an ensemble dedicated to building bridges between western classical music and middle eastern music, and the world premiere of Scylla, Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra by composer Jordan Pal.
 
Franz is celebrating his 11th season as Associate Conductor of the Houston Symphony where he 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 ninth 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.
 
As Founder and Music Director of the Idaho Orchestra Institute, now in its second year, Franz oversees an intensive experience designed for college and advanced high school musicians.
 
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.