Robert Franz conductor

Robert Franz

Acclaimed conductor, Robert Franz, recognized as “an outstanding musician with profound intelligence,” has held to three principles throughout his career: a commitment to the highest artistic standards, to creating alliances and building bridges in each community he serves, and a dedication to being a strong force in music education. As Music Director of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Boise Baroque Orchestra, and Music Director of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts Symphony Orchestra he has achieved success through his focus on each of these principles.

His 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.” Franz is in increasing demand as a guest conductor, having collaborated with the Cleveland Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, North Carolina Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, and Italy’s Orchestra da Camera Fiorentinas. 2023 marked his debut with the Saskatoon Symphony and 3 world premieres, including works by Vincent Ho and Nicole Lizée.  His versatility has led to performances with a wide array of artists, including James Galway, Joshua Bell, Rachel Barton Pine, Chris Botti, Idina Menzel and Chris Hadfield as well as his work with composers such as John Harbison, Jennifer Higdon and Jordan Pal. An eloquent speaker, Franz recently presented a TEDx Talk entitled Active Listening and Our Perception of Time.

Music Director the Windsor Symphony Orchestra since 2013, Franz was recognized by The Windsor Endowment for the Arts with its Arts Leadership Award. Under his leadership the WSO released its first commercial recording in 15 years, “Christmas, eh.” Recent collaborations include the Windsor International Film Festival, Art Windsor Essex, Windsor Public Library, Canadian Historical Aviation Association, and the University of Windsor.

Franz’ serves as Artistic Director of the Boise Baroque Orchestra where he successfully launched an outdoor summer concert series at the Chateau des Fleurs in Eagle, Idaho. Curated digital concert series, partnerships with Opera Idaho and the Boise Philharmonic Master Chorale as well as with various educational institutions have been a hallmark of his time at BBO.

Franz just concluded his fourteen-year tenure as Associate Conductor of the Houston Symphony where he was honored with the Raphael Fliegel Award for Visionary Leadership, celebrating his immense success in advancing the organization’s education and community engagement activities.  While in Houston Franz lead the North American premiere of Author Dan Brown’s musical children’s book, Wild Symphony.

As Co-founder and Conductor of the Idaho Orchestra Institute, now in its eighth year, Franz takes young musicians on an exploration of major orchestral repertoire that explores the complete musician.

In addition to his current posts, Franz served as Associate Conductor of the Houston Symphony (2008-2022), Music Director of the Boise Philharmonic (2008-2016), and the Mansfield Symphony in Ohio (2003-2010). When not on the podium he can be found on the slopes, skiing slowly and carefully, stretching in a yoga class, and non-competitively trying his hardest to win at a game of cards with his family.

Latest reviews:

“This was a masterful performance, directed by Robert Franz’s masterful hand.” Classical Voice North Carolina (full review…)

“The presentation had all the right stuff…. As for Rachmaninoff’s “Symphonic Dances,” Franz’s account of it proved beguiling in so many ways. He summoned a big, rich sound from the strings. He inspired an angelic sound from the winds and brass. He exacted precise playing while never neglecting the more lyrical aspects of what can be extremely lyrical music.”
Winston-Salem Journal (full review… )

“Franz is an outstanding musician with profound intelligence.” “Franz rose to the occasion, guiding the huge forces through the three movements to the inexorable ending involving the “Dies Irae” (Day of Wrath) theme so dear to Rachmaninoff… this was a remarkable performance of a too-seldom-heard masterpiece.” [Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances]
Classical Voice North Carolina   (full review…)   

“There are reasons for his success: in addition to his musicianship, this is a man with vision, energy and the capacity to draw the very best from the musicians with whom he works. …he employs a highly positive, energizing approach when conducting that seems to draw the best from the musicians” [with Boise Baroque] Idaho Press  (read the rest…)

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“Friday’s audience was fortunate beyond belief to have heard the definitive performance of the Bruch Concerto No. 1 (Joshua Bell), which was superbly partnered by conductor Robert Franz and the BPO.”
Buffalo News

“The orchestra has seldom played with such rapt attention to its collective tasks. Franz conducted the entire affair with masterly pace, emphasis and technical control. The final minute was among the most viscerally thrilling indulgences I’ve heard in Whitney Hall.”
The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)

“Franz coaxed brilliant playing from the RSO, which has rarely sounded better.”
Reading Eagle

“Franz’ assured musicality gave his readings a vitality that made the evening a fine musical adventure.”
Spokesman Review

“The music (Barber’s Medea’s Meditation and Dance of Vengeance) crackles, communicating the essence of the Greek tragedy with terse power. So too did Franz’s reading, which matched the composer’s own remarkable intensity.”
The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)

“Franz and company closed with a reading of the Schubert Symphony No. 5. Tempos pressed forward in a way that with this nimble band, felt blithe and refreshing.”
The Charlotte Observer

“The Carolina Chamber Symphony fills a void in Winston-Salem’s concert life. Especially since the group is filled with such able, energetic players and is led by so efficient and intelligent a conductor.”
The Winston-Salem Journal

Composer and Soloist Quotes

“Robert Franz is a JOY to work with! He’s extremely competent. He takes matters like preparation, musical rehearsals and performances very seriously without being oppressive. He is all at once smart, fun, careful, relaxed, but demanding of his musicians. I love working with him!”
Sylvia McNair

“I must say that I was deeply impressed with [Robert’s] work, not only by his solid rehearsal techniques and fine-tuned ears, but also by his extremely musical and passionate approach toward music making.”
Bright Sheng

“Thank you for your excellently prepared and insightful performance of my Third Symphony last week.”
John Harbison

“I was very positively impressed with Mr. Franz’s commitment to communicating and educating audiences of all ages, and with his love of contemporary music… His fine conducting and the enthusiasm he conveys are certain to make a substantial difference in the musical life of any community in which he works.”
Aaron Jay Kernis

“His genuine musical gifts, intelligence, and down-to-earth approach to reaching audiences of all ages make him certainly of the most talented conductors of his generation.”
Michael Daugherty

“It is truly exciting to come across someone with your sense of vision. I think your educational initiatives with the New Dimensions series and its numerous ancillary activities are turning Louisville into a stellar example of the role an orchestra can play in engaging a community in truly meaningful ways.”
Shulamit Ran

“He has a natural and highly developed ability to present the widest range of orchestral repertoire with integrity and insight. Musicians respond to his artistic command and personal style on the podium with respect and loyalty.”
Russell Peck