As Music Director of the Boise Philharmonic, Music Director Designate of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, Associate Conductor of the Houston Symphony and Music Director of the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Opera and Orchestra, Robert Franz’s 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” and critics hail his “masterly pace, emphasis, and technical control” calling his conducting “viscerally thrilling.”
Maestro Franz is in increasing demand as a guest conductor. Recent and upcoming guest conducting highlights include his debut with the Baltimore Symphony, St. Louis Symphony and the Cleveland Orchestra. Earlier guest conducting appearances include the Rochester Philharmonic, North Carolina Symphony, the Columbus Symphony, Virginia Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Musiqa (Houston), South Bend Symphony, Asheville Lyric Opera, the Portland Symphony (ME), and the Idaho Falls Symphony.
Now in his fifth season as Music Director of the Boise Philharmonic, Franz continues to make great strides in reaching out to the community with collaborations and world-class guest artists. Under his leadership, the Boise Philharmonic has partnered with Opera Idaho, the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Boise Art Museum, Idaho Dance Theater, Ballet Idaho, and launched a new Picnic at the Pops series to supplement the classics and casual classics series and draw new audiences.
Franz begins his tenure as Music Director of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra on July 1, 2013 where he will conduct five concerts in the Symphony’s Masterworks/Intimate Classics series, three pops concerts, the Messiah in December, and educational concerts.
In 2012, Franz began his tenure as Music Director of the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Opera and Orchestra. He marked his first year in this role with an historic collaboration with the Denali Arts & Humanities Alliance, which hosted the orchestra as the first ensemble ever to perform inside Denali National Park. Franz also led the orchestra in classical, opera, and pops concerts in Fairbanks.
ASCAP has recognized Franz on two occasions for his advocacy in arts education. Under his direction, both the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in 2008 and the Louisville Orchestra in 2001 were awarded the Leonard Bernstein Award for Educational Programming. The Louisville Orchestra’s award led to the creation of an education program for Kentucky Educational Television entitled, Creating Music and Stories. Winner of the 2008 BPO/ECMEA Music Educators Award for Excellence, Franz is a strong supporter of arts education, and has created arts education programs for the Carolina Chamber Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Louisville Orchestra, West End Chamber Ensemble and the Winston-Salem Piedmont Triad Symphony, including that organization’s innovative Bolton Research Project. As Associate Conductor of the Louisville Orchestra, he re-vitalized an ASCAP award-winning new music concert series, and served as co-host of In a Different Key, a weekly contemporary classical music radio program on WUOL.
Franz received his Master of Music degree in conducting from the North Carolina School of the Arts in 1992 and his Bachelor of Music degree in oboe performance in 1990 from that same institution. He has participated in conducting workshops in the Czech Republic, St. Petersburg (Russia), Nashville, the Festival at Sandpoint and was a participant in the 1997 National Conductor Preview.