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In April 2009, JOHN AXELROD was appointed music director of the Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire starting from the 2010/11 season. Now in his fifth and last season as chief conductor of the Luzerner Sinfonie Orchester and Theater, Axelrod has established his profile as one of today’s leading conductors and is sought after by orchestras throughout the world. In the 2008/09 season, he debuts with the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI of Turin, the Orchestra Verdi in Milan, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana in Lugano, the Teatro Comunale di Bologna Orchestra, and the Komische Oper in Berlin; and makes return engagements to the Orchestre de Paris, the Dresden Philharmonie, Lisbon’s Gulbenkian Orchestra, the Brabants Orkest, and the Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire. This season in Lucerne, Axelrod ends his cycle of Beethoven’s orchestral works conducting the Ninth Symphony, and leads a new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni for the Lucerne Festival.
As a guest conductor, Axelrod has worked with the London Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic (at the Hollywood Bowl), the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia Orchestra, the Oslo Philharmonic, the Swedish Radio Orchestra, the Shanghai Symphony, at Vienna’s Musikverein with the Vienna Radio Symphony, the Gurzenich-Orchester Köln, Berlin’s Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester, the Orchestre National de Lyon, and the Salzburg Mozarteum. He is a regular guest of the Gewandhaus Orchestra, the NDR Radio Philharmonie of Hannover, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, and the Hungarian National Philharmonic.
The soloists with whom he often collaborates include, among others: Han-Na Chang, Julia Fischer, Martin Grubinger, Daniel Hope, Patricia Kopatchinskaya, Lang Lang, Sabine Meyer, and Fazil Say, as well as Thomas Hampson, Rinat Shaham, Dietrich Henschel, and Ramon Vargas. His opera activity includes the premiere performances of Bernstein’s Candide (directed by Robert Carsen) at Paris’ Théâtre du Châtelet and Milano’s Teatro alla Scala and the new production of Krenek’s Kehraus um St. Stephan at the Bregenz Festspiele. In his past seasons at the Luzerner Theater he conducted new productions of Kaiser von Atlantis, Rigoletto, The Rake’s Progress (for the Lucerne Festival), Il barbiere di Siviglia, Evgenij Onegin, Idomeneo (for the Lucerne Festival), Falstaff, and Don Giovanni (for the Lucerne Festival). His recent performances of Tristan und Isolde with Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire at the Opéra Nantes/Angers were very well received both by the audience and the critics.
As Principal Guest Conductor of Sinfonietta Cracovia since 2000, Axelrod has appeared in Europe’s leading concert halls, been seen on ARTE television, and performed on the grounds of Auschwitz in the BBC’s 2007 Emmy-winning Holocaust: A Music Memorial Film. Axelrod is also the founder and conductor laureate of Houston’s Orchestra X.
Axelrod’s most recent recordings include Wolfgang Rihm’s newly-commissioned piano concerto Sotto Voce II (together with Sotto Voce I) with the Luzerner Sinfonie Orchester and the pianist Nicolas Hodges; Fazil Say’s new violin concerto, 2001 Nights in a Harem, with Patricia Kopatchinskaya and the Luzerner Sinfonie Orchester; two discs featuring works by Franz Schreker and his students Ernst Krenek and Julius Burger; a live recording from the 2006 Lucerne Festival of Bernstein’s Third Symphony (“Kaddish”), Schoenberg’s Survivor from Warsaw, and Weill’s Berliner Requiem, all with the Luzerner Sinfonie Orchester for the Nimbus label; Dvorák’s Ninth Symphony with the Wurttemburgischer Philharmonie Reutlingen for the Genuin label; works by Wladyslaw Szpilman with the Berlin Radio Orchestra for Sony Classical; and Rolf Wallin’s percussion concerto Das war schön! with Martin Grubinger and the Oslo Philharmonic for the Ondine label.
Axelrod currently divides his time between Lucerne and Strasbourg, France, and is the proud father of a daughter, Tallulah.