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2017 Conductors

Andrés Franco

Andres Franco

Currently completing highly successful first seasons as Music Director of Tulsa’s Signature Symphony at TCC, as well as Assistant Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Andrés Franco has established himself as a conductor to watch. While maintaining his roles as Principal Conductor of the multimedia project Caminos del Inka and Artistic Director of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra’s summer festival “Concerts in the Garden,” he continues to delight audiences with his imaginative programming and energetic style. During the 2016/2017 season, Mr. Franco will make debuts with both the Boise Symphony and Oklahoma City Philharmonic.

A frequent guest conductor in the U.S., Europe and South America, Mr. Franco has appeared with the Columbus, Elgin, El Paso, Eugene, Fort Worth, Houston, Lake Forest, Mississippi, Saginaw Bay, Springfield, St. Louis, and Stockton symphony orchestras, the Chicago Sinfonietta, Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León/Spain, the National Symphony Orchestra of Peru, as well as with the National Symphony, Bogota Philharmonic, Medellin Philharmonic, and EAFIT Symphony Orchestra in Colombia. Festival appearances include the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, the Oregon Bach Festival, and the Wintergreen Music Festival in Virginia. This summer he will make his debut with the OK Mozart Festival in Tulsa, and the Grant Park Festival in Chicago.

Andrés Franco formerly served as Music Director of the Philharmonia of Kansas City (2004-2010), as Associate and Resident Conductor of the Fort Worth Symphony (2009-2014), and as Leonard Slatkin’s Assistant Conductor during the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition (2013).

A native of Colombia, Mr. Franco is dedicated to preserving and performing the music of the Americas. As Principal Conductor of Caminos del Inka, he has led many performances of works by Latin American composers, such as Jimmy López, Diego Luzuriaga, and the famous Argentine composer, Astor Piazzolla.

Born into a musical family, Andrés Franco began piano studies with his father, Jorge Franco. An accomplished pianist, he studied with Van Cliburn Gold Medalist Jose Feghali and attended piano workshops with Rudolph Buchbinder in Switzerland and Lev Naumov in France. He studied conducting with Marin Alsop, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, the late Kurt Masur, Gustav Meier, Helmut Rilling, Gerard Schwarz, and Leonard Slatkin. Mr. Franco holds a bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia, as well as master of music degrees in Piano Performance and Conducting from Texas Christian University.  Photo Credit: James Korn.

Daniel Hege

Daniel Hege

Daniel Hege is widely recognized as one of America’s finest conductors, earning critical acclaim for his fresh interpretations of the standard repertoire and for his commitment to creative programming. He served for eleven seasons as the Music Director of the Syracuse Symphony and in June 2009, was appointed Music Director of the Wichita Symphony. In addition, as of the 15/16 season, he is the Principal Guest Conductor of the Tulsa Symphony, and during the 16/17 season will serve as the Principal Guest Conductor of the Binghamton (NY) Philharmonic.

Following a nationwide search, Mr. Hege was named Music Director of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra in April, 1999. In June 2001, he completed a five year tenure with the Baltimore Symphony where he held the titles of Assistant, Associate and Resident Conductor and led the orchestra in subscription, family and run-out concerts. Mr. Hege also served as Associate Conductor of the Kansas City Symphony, Assistant Conductor of the Pacific Symphony, Music Director of the Encore Chamber Orchestra in Chicago and Music Director of the Chicago Youth Symphony, where he was twice honored by the League of American Orchestras for innovative programming.

Daniel Hege has guest conducted the Houston, Detroit, Seattle, Indianapolis, Oregon, Colorado, San Diego, Columbus, and Phoenix symphonies; the Calgary Philharmonic; and led the orchestras at the Grand Teton and Aspen Music Festivals. International engagements include performances with the Singapore Symphony and the St. Petersburg Symphony at the Winter Nights Festival. In addition, Mr. Hege has worked with the Syracuse Opera with which he led productions of Madame Butterfly, La Traviata, Tosca and Don Pasquale.

Recent and upcoming guest conducting engagements include appearances with the Rochester, Buffalo, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Naples Philharmonics; the Louisville, Sarasota and Florida Orchestras; and the Houston, Edmonton, Pacific, Puerto Rico, Hartford, Omaha, Madison, Tucson, Charleston and Virginia symphonies. Daniel Hege is also known for his work with highly talented young musicians and appears with many of America’s orchestral training programs such as the Texas Music Festival, National Repertory Orchestra, Music Academy of the West, and the National Orchestral Institute.

Mr. Hege has made numerous recordings, including a disc with the Baltimore Symphony and the Morgan State University Choir featuring works by Adolphus Hailstork and three CD’s with the Syracuse Symphony.

Daniel Hege received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1987 from Bethel College, Kansas where he majored in music and history. He continued his studies at the University of Utah, where he received a Master of Music degree in orchestra conducting and also founded the University Chamber Orchestra and served as Assistant Conductor of the University Orchestra and Music Director of the Utah Singers. He subsequently studied with Paul Vermel at the Aspen Music Festival and in Los Angeles with noted conductor and pedagogue Daniel Lewis.

In May 2004, Mr. Hege was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Le Moyne College in Syracuse for his contributions to the cultural life in central New York State. Born in Colorado, Mr. Hege currently resides in Syracuse with his wife and their three daughters. Photo Credit: Christian Steiner.

Franz Anton Krager*

Photo of Franz Anton Krager

American born and trained conductor, Franz Anton Krager, has made his artistic presence felt both at home and abroad with performance engagements in some of the world's most celebrated concert halls and musical centers. Since making his prize-winning European conducting debut in Copenhagen's Tivoli Koncertsalen in 1978, Krager has led orchestras in the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Moscow's State Kremlin Palace, Manchester England's Bridgewater Hall, Birmingham England's Adrian Boult Hall, Guangzhou China's Xinghai Music Center, the Sydney Opera House, Amsterdam Congresgebouw, Kazan's State Philharmonic Hall in Russia, Guadalajara's Degollado Theater, and Sarasota's Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. His affiliations with leading music festivals include the Lancaster International Concert Series and the Lichfield and Aberystwyth International Arts Festivals in the U.K., the "Puccini e la sua Lucca," "Lago di Como," "Lunatica," "Pianomaster," "Sinfonico," "Giovedì a Teatro," "Scarlino Castello," and "All Around Jazz" festivals in Italy, and the Texas Music Festival and Interlochen National Music Camp in the U.S.

Maestro Krager's roster of conducting engagements is a full collection of international and domestic appearances in both the professional and academic arenas. He has led the Houston Symphony; Russian State Symphony; Romanian and Kazan State Philharmonics; Honolulu and Florida West Coast Symphonies; Chetham's Symphony Orchestra and Musicfest International Orchestra (U.K.); Symphony Orchestra of Berlin; Akademisches Orchester Leipzig; Koriyama Symphony Orchestra (Japan); Riverside Philharmonic (CA); Traverse Symphony Orchestra (MI); East and Mid-Texas Symphony Orchestras; Texas and Oakland (CA) Ballet Companies, Houston Ballet Ben Stevenson Academy, Sandra Organ Dance Company (TX); the chamber orchestras of Stratford ("Orchestra of the Swan," where he was principal guest conductor from 2000-2004), Birmingham and Leamington (U.K.); Deutsche Kammerakademie Neuss am Rhein (Germany); Orchestra Sinfonica Citta' di Grosseto, Guido d'Arezzo, and Orchestra Sinfonica del Conservatorio Jacopo Tomadini (Italy); the Missouri Chamber Orchestra; and the Round Top Festival-Institute.

In 2000, Krager served as General & Artistic Director for "Shostakovich 2000," a five-day international music festival marking the 25th anniversary of Shostakovich's death. "Shostakovich 2000" drew people to Houston from across the U.S., Europe, and Russia, and was recognized by the DSCH Journal as a major world event for ballet, opera, chamber, and orchestral music by Shostakovich. Krager again conducted Shostakovich, in 2003, with the Russian State Symphony Orchestra & Symphonic Cappella and Alexander Kisselev of the Bolshoi Theatre, inside the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow. This command performance, initiated by the Kremlin authorities, was given in honor of the great Russian poet, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, on the occasion of his 70th birthday. Krager conducted to a packed house of 6500 people. Maestro Krager made his European opera-conducting debut, in 2004, with the Stagione Lirica in the Tuscany region of Italy. This production of Puccini's "Tosca" was met with great enthusiasm by the Italian public and received rave reviews from the Italian press. In 2005 and again in 2008, Krager was invited to be a jury member for the prestigious Concurso Internacional de Piano Compositores de Espana in Madrid. In 2006, he was appointed as Artistic Consultant for the World Holocaust Forum Foundation's "Let My People Live," the International Forum in commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the tragedy in Babi Yar, Kiev, Ukraine. This event garnered global media attention and included state delegations from several countries including the Presidents of Israel and Ukraine. Krager also directed a three-day international music festival in Houston celebrating the great Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius. The "Jean Sibelius Festival 2006," like "Shostakovich 2000," drew people to Houston from across the U.S. and abroad.

Choral engagements include the Houston Symphony Chorus; the Chorus of the Gruppo Polifonico "Francesco Coradini," Corale Giacomo Puccini di Grosseto (Italy); and the Asaka Women's Chorus (Japan). Krager has worked with some of the pre-eminent artists of our time. In conjunction with the Moores School of Music, he has collaborated with Robert Shaw, William Warfield, Maxim Shostakovich, Marilyn Horne, John Corigliano, Joan Tower, Horacio Gutiérrez, and Sergei Leiferkus.

Krager is Professor of Conducting, Director of Orchestras, and Chair of the Conducting Department at the University of Houston Moores School of Music, where he has brought the orchestra and orchestral conducting program into the realm of national prominence. The Moores School Orchestra is heard frequently on National Public Radio and has commercially recorded the music of Michael Horvit, Peter Lieuwen, Robert Nelson, and Stephen Shewan on compact disc for Albany Records.

Maestro Krager is also Music Director & Chief Conductor of the Texas Music Festival, Founding Artistic Director of the Virtuosi of Houston, Artist-in-Residence at The Kinkaid School, Evaluator/Clinician for the Orchestra America National Festival, and has been a summer lecturer-in-residence at the Italart Santa Chiara Study Center, near Florence, Italy, since 1987.

Originally from Detroit, Krager's musical training included the study of percussion, piano, theory, composition, and conducting with Elizabeth A. H. Green at the University of Michigan. As a young conductor, Krager was one of a select group invited to participate in the famed Herbert von Karajan International Conducting Competition, winning acclaim in the Berlin press. "His appearance, his poise clearly reveal his experience," proclaimed the Berliner Morgenpost. In Amsterdam, the Haagsche Courant hailed him as a "great musical talent." England's Liverpool Daily Post stated that "American conductor Franz Anton Krager produced a performance full of life, vivacity and enthusiasm." The Leipziger Volkszeitung in Germany praised "Krager's unusual Schwung and Esprit brought to the Gewandhaus." In the American press, the Houston Chronicle has cited his "well-prepared earnestness; assured, committed performances; effectiveness; and heartfelt sincerity." The Tampa Tribune declared that the Florida West Coast Symphony organization "would be smart to grab Franz Anton Krager, who won over the sellout crowd..."

Maestro Krager has been active for over 25 years as a champion of new music, conducting and recording many premieres of works commissioned and/or produced from the Moores School of Music and Brazos Valley Symphony resident composer programs.

In 1984, after a six-year Assistant Professorship at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Krager relocated to Texas with appointments to the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra and Texas A&M University. His ensuing twelve-year tenure as Music Director of the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra and Brazos Sinfonietta was lauded by visiting artists of international stature as a model for regional orchestras in the United States.

Brett Mitchell

Brett Mitchell

Hailed for delivering compelling performances of innovative, eclectic programs, Brett Mitchell has been named the fourth Music Director of the Colorado Symphony, beginning in the 2017-18 season. Prior to this four-year appointment, he will serve as Music Director Designate during the 2016-17 season.

Mr. Mitchell is also currently the Associate Conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra. He joined the orchestra as Assistant Conductor in 2013, and was promoted to his current position in 2015, becoming the orchestra’s first Associate Conductor in over three decades and only the fifth in its 98-year history. In this role, he leads the orchestra in several dozen concerts each season at Severance Hall, Blossom Music Center, and on tour. Mr. Mitchell also serves as the Music Director of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, which he recently led on a four-city tour of China, marking the ensemble's second international tour and its first to Asia.

In addition to these titled positions, Brett Mitchell is in consistent demand as a guest conductor. Recent and upcoming guest engagements include the orchestras of Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Oregon, Rochester, Saint Paul, and Washington (National Symphony Orchestra), among others. He has collaborated with such soloists as Rudolf Buchbinder, James Ehnes, Leila Josefowicz, and Alisa Weilerstein, and has served as cover conductor and musical assistant at The Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, London Philharmonic Orchestra, and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra.

From 2007 to 2011, Brett Mitchell led over one hundred performances as Assistant Conductor of the Houston Symphony, to which he frequently returns as a guest conductor. He also held Assistant Conductor posts with the Orchestre National de France, where he worked under Kurt Masur from 2006 to 2009, and the Castleton Festival, where he worked under Lorin Maazel in 2009 and 2010. In 2015, Mr. Mitchell completed a highly successful five-year tenure as Music Director of the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra, where an increased focus on locally relevant programming and community collaborations resulted in record attendance throughout his tenure.

As an opera conductor, Brett Mitchell has served as music director of nearly a dozen productions, principally at his former post as Music Director of the Moores Opera Center in Houston, where he led eight productions from 2010 to 2013. His repertoire spans the core works of Mozart (The Marriage of Figaro and The Magic Flute), Verdi (Rigoletto and Falstaff), and Stravinsky (The Rake's Progress) to contemporary works by Adamo (Little Women), Aldridge (Elmer Gantry), Catán (Il Postino and Salsipuedes), and Hagen (Amelia). As a ballet conductor, Mr. Mitchell will next lead a production of The Nutcracker with the Pennsylvania Ballet in collaboration with The Cleveland Orchestra during the 2016-17 season.

Born in Seattle in 1979, Brett Mitchell holds degrees in conducting from the University of Texas at Austin and composition from Western Washington University, which selected him in as its Young Alumnus of the Year in 2014. He also studied at the National Conducting Institute, and was selected by Kurt Masur as a recipient of the inaugural American Friends of the Mendelssohn Foundation Scholarship. Mr. Mitchell was also one of five recipients of the League of American Orchestras’ American Conducting Fellowship from 2007 to 2010. Photo Credit: Roger Mastroianni.