Award-winning conductor Robert Franz is the Music Director of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra and the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Orchestra, and is also Associate Conductor of the Houston Symphony. Franz’s appeal as a first-rate conductor is acclaimed by critics and composers. In increasing demand as a guest conductor, Franz’s recent appearances include The Cleveland Orchestra, the Baltimore, St. Louis and Victoria Symphonies and the Orchestra da Camera Fiorentina in Italy. This season also includes guest conducting appearances with the Winston-Salem Symphony, the Reno Chamber Orchestra and Opera Idaho. An award-winning educator, he founded and co-directed the inaugural season of the Idaho Orchestra Institute in 2017.
In his fifth season as Windsor Symphony’s Music Director, Franz continues to extend the number of subscription weeks. Known for galvanizing audiences and communities alike, he has developed collaborations with the Windsor International Film Festival in a presentation of Joan of Arc, the Art Gallery of Windsor, the Canadian Historical Aviation Association, The University of Windsor and St. Clair College. Upcoming programming includes his innovative project to bring together members of youth orchestras from Windsor, Detroit, and Guanajuato, Mexico, for a series of workshops and performances.
As Associate Conductor of the Houston Symphony, Franz was recently honored as the first member of the Symphony conducting staff with the Raphael Fliegel Award for Visionary Leadership. It was presented to Franz in recognition of his immense success in advancing the organization’s educational and community engagement activities. He continues to lead the Symphony in a broad range of creative educational and family concerts, including its summer neighborhood concert series, an outreach program dedicated to bringing music to all of Houston’s communities. During his tenure, attendance at family and educational concerts has almost doubled.
Franz marks his eighth year as Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Orchestra Music Director by directing the festival orchestra and mentoring aspiring conductors. In past years, he has brought the orchestra to Denali National Park and Preserve in a performance that marked the first time an orchestra had performed there. ASCAP has recognized Franz on two occasions for his advocacy in arts education. Under his direction, both the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Louisville Orchestra were awarded the Leonard Bernstein Award for Educational Programming.
Latest reviews (2019):
“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.”
“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.”
“Franz’ assured musicality gave his readings a vitality that made the evening a fine musical adventure.”
“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!”
“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.”
“Thank you for your excellently prepared and insightful performance of my Third Symphony last week.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”