Conductor James Conlon
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 writings, television appearances and guest speaking engagements, Mr. Conlon is one of classical music’s most recognized figures.
Mr. Conlon is Music Director of LA Opera, where since 2006 he has led more performances than any other conductor in the company’s history—to date, more than 400 performances of over 60 different operas. This season he conducts Verdi’s Il Trovatore , Wagner’s Tannhäuser ; Verdi’s Aida , and a ballet adaptation of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion . He is also Artistic Advisor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He has been Principal Conductor of the Paris Opera; General Music Director of the City of Cologne, Germany, where he was Music Director of both the Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne and the Cologne Opera; Music Director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, and Principal Conductor of the Orchestra Nazionale Della RAI in Torino, Italy. He has served as Music Director of the Ravinia Festival, summer home of the Chicago Symphony; and is now Music Director Laureate of the Cincinnati May Festival, where he was Music Director for 37 years. As a guest conductor at the Metropolitan Opera, he has led more than 270 performances since his 1976 debut.
In an effort to call attention to 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. For his efforts, he was awarded the Roger E. Joseph Prize at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (2013); a Crystal Globe Award from the Anti-Defamation League (2007); and the Zemlinsky Prize (1999). His work on behalf of suppressed composers led to the creation of The OREL Foundation and the Ziering-Conlon Initiative for Recovered Voices at the Colburn School.
Mr. Conlon is an enthusiastic advocate of public scholarship and cultural institutions as forums for the exchange of ideas and inquiry into the role music plays in our shared humanity and civic life. At LA Opera, his immensely popular pre-performance talks draw upon musicology, literary studies, history, and social sciences to contemplate the enduring power and relevance of opera, and classical music in general. His appearances throughout the country as a speaker on a variety of cultural and educational topics are widely praised.
Mr. Conlon’s extensive discography can be found on the Bridge, Capriccio, Decca, EMI, Erato and Sony Classical labels; and his recordings of LA Opera productions including Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles released on PentaTone and Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny on EuroArts have received four Grammy® awards. Mr. Conlon was named Commendatore Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana by Sergio Mattarella, President of the Italian Republic, and Commandeur de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture. In 2002, he received France’s highest honor, the Legion d’Honneur from then-President of the French Republic Jacques Chirac.