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The esteemed American conductor GERARD SCHWARZ commenced trumpet lessons when he was 8. After attending the National Music Camp in Interlochen, Michigan, he studied at New York's High School of Performing Arts. He also received trumpet instruction from William Vacchiano, and completed his training at the Juilliard School. He played in the American Brass Quintet from 1965 to 1973, and the American Symphony Orchestra from 1966 to 1972.
He made his debut as a conductor in 1966. By 1976 he had been appointed musical director of the Erick Hawkins Dance Company, the Eliot Feld Dance Company, the Waterloo Festival, the New York Chamber Symphony, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. In 1981, he established the Music Today contemporary music series, serving as its Music Director until 1989. He first conducted opera with the Washington Opera at the Kennedy Center in 1982 with Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail, and he has led performances with the Seattle and San Francisco Operas, the Juilliard Opera Theatre, and the Kirov Opera in St. Petersburg's historic Maryinsky Theater.
Gerard Schwarz has been Music Director of the Seattle Symphony since 1985, and he began his tenure as Music Director of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic last season. He was Music Director of the New York Chamber Symphony from1976 through the orchestra's 25th anniversary last season, and was Music Director of New York's Mostly Mozart Festival from 1982 to 2001. He has amassed a vast discography of award-winning albums for the Seattle Symphony and brought them to their new home in Benaroya Hall in a gala concert on September 12, 1998. His appearances with Mostly Mozart continued its prestige as New York's favorite summer festival and brought it a large television viewing audience on the PBS network as well as an international profile with tours; and he brought the New York Chamber Symphony from a fledgling organization to a full concert season at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall.
His appearances as a guest conductor have brought him to several major orchestras, including the Washington Opera, the San Francisco Opera, the Kirov Opera, and the Seattle Opera. In addition, he was the Artistic Advisor to Tokyo Bunkamura's Orchard Hall from 1994 to 1997, in conjunction with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra.
Last season (2001-2002), Schwarz conducted eleven subscription series concerts with the Seattle Symphony, as well as special concerts with soloists Mstislav Rostropovich and Itzhak Perlman and five concerts in the Musically Speaking series. His many recordings with the orchestra have been devoted to music of American composers such as Howard Hanson, Aaron Copland, Charles Tomlinson Griffes, Walter Piston, William Schuman, Alan Hovhaness, David Diamond, Paul Creston, as well as music of Stravinsky, Richard Strauss, Bartók, Ravel, Schuman, Shostakovich, and Wagner. These recordings have earned accolades and Best Classical Album awards from Stereo Review magazine, as well as more than ten Grammy nominations. Schwarz has recorded extensively with other orchestras including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Scottish and English Chamber Orchestras, Mostly Mozart, the New York Chamber Symphony, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.
Schwarz has received the Ditson Conductor's Award from Columbia University, an honorary Doctorate of Music from the Juilliard School, and other honorary degrees from Fairleigh Dickinson University, the University of Puget Sound, and the Seattle University. In 1994, Schwarz was named Conductor of the Year by Musical America.