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JAMES CONLON, one of today’s most versatile and respected conductors, has cultivated a vast symphonic, operatic and choral repertoire. Since his 1974 debut with the New York Philharmonic, he has conducted virtually every major American and European symphony orchestra. Through worldwide touring, an extensive discography and videography, numerous essays and commentaries, frequent television appearances and guest speaking engagements, Mr. Conlon is one of classical music’s most recognized interpreters.
He is currently Music Director of Los Angeles Opera, the Ravinia Festival (summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra) and the Cincinnati May Festival, America's oldest choral festival. He has served as Principal Conductor of the Paris National Opera (1995-2004); General Music Director of the City of Cologne, Germany (1989-2002), where he was Music Director of both the Gürzenich Orchestra-Cologne Philharmonic and the Cologne Opera; and Music Director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic (1983-1991).
Since his first appearance as a guest conductor at the Metropolitan Opera in 1976, Mr. Conlon has led more than 250 performances there and has often appeared at Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the Royal Opera at Covent Garden in London, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence.
Mr. Conlon is currently engaged in a three-year homage to Benjamin Britten, set to culminate in 2013 during the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth. A long-time devotee of Britten’s music, he is conducting six productions of Britten operas in the U.S. and Europe, including LA Opera’s production of Turn of the Screw (in March 2011) and Albert Herring (spring 2012). The tribute extends also through symphonic and choral works (including these performances of Sinfonia da Requiem),
In an effort to raise awareness of the significance of the lesser-known works of composers silenced by the Nazi regime, Mr. Conlon has devoted himself to extensive programming of this music throughout Europe and North America. In 1999 he received the Zemlinsky Prize, for his efforts in bringing that composer’s music to international attention. In 2007 he received the Crystal Globe Award from the Anti-Defamation League for championing these works, including his initiation of LA Opera’s groundbreaking “Recovered Voices” project. His work on behalf of suppressed composers led to the creation of The OREL Foundation (www.orelfoundation.org), an invaluable resource on the topic for music lovers, students, musicians and scholars.
Committed to working with pre-professional musicians, he has devoted his time to teaching at The Juilliard School, the New World Symphony, Ravinia's Steans Institute for Young Artists, the Aspen Music Festival and School and Tanglewood Music Center. His coaching sessions and master classes with finalists of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition are documented in a collection of highly acclaimed PBS videos. In Los Angeles he works with students at The Colburn Conservatory, USC and UCLA. His pre-concert lectures at LA Opera consistently attract capacity crowds, and his appearances throughout the country as a speaker on a variety of cultural and educational topics are widely praised.
Mr. Conlon’s extensive discography and videography can be found on the EMI, Erato, Capriccio, Decca and Sony Classical labels. He has won two Grammy Awards.
Mr. Conlon holds several Honorary Doctorates and has received many awards. He is among the five initial recipients of the Opera News Awards and was honored by The New York Public Library as a "Library Lion." Mr. Conlon’s other recent honors include the Medal of the American Liszt Society (2008), a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Istituto Italiano di Cultura (2010) and Italy’s Premio Galileo 2000 Award for his significant contribution to music, art and peace in Florence (2008).
He was named Commandeur de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture, and in 2002, he received France's highest distinction from then President of the French Republic Jacques Chirac: the Légion d'Honneur.