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Andreas Delfs, conductor

Philip Mann

Andreas Delfs is widely recognised for his electric podium presence and creative flair for programming. After twelve seasons as Music Director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, where he fashioned a model for the next-generation music director in America, he currently holds the position of Conductor Laureate. Under his dynamic leadership, the Milwaukee Symphony rose to national prominence through acclaimed recording projects, commissions of new works, world premieres and innovative music education programmes.

Andreas Delfs has held chief artistic posts with several distinguished institutions both in North America and Europe. He led the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra as music director (2001-2004) and artistic consultant (2004 -2006). In Europe, Mr. Delfs served as General Music Director of Hannover, Germany (1995-2000), conducting the symphony orchestra and opera company, where he led the European premiere of John Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles (commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera), in addition to premiering many works by Europe's most distinguished composers. Prior to his time in Hannover, Andreas Delfs was Music Director of the Bern Opera, resident conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony (during the tenure of Lorin Maazel) and Music Director, at an early age, of the celebrated Orchestre Suisse des Jeunes.

Andreas Delfs keeps an active guest conducting schedule. Highlights in the 2010/11 season include appearances with the Tonkünster-Orchester Vienna, the Calgary Philharmonic, The Taiwan National Symphony, the Adelaide Symphony, the Tasmanian Symphony and Auckland Philharmonia. He will also conduct two new operatic productions, namely Turandot at Opera Lyra Ottawa and Carmen at Opera North.

A distinguishing point in Andreas Delfs' career is his continuing commitment to contemporary music. Since his student days at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City, he has established a deep connection with living composers and counts among his profound musical inspirations musicians such as John Corigliano, Philip Glass, Roberto Sierra, Lowell Liebermann, György Ligeti, Luciano Berio, Aribert Reimann and Hans Werner Henze. Similarly, Andreas Delfs is in high demand as an esteemed collaborative conductor and is the frequent partner to many of the world's most renowned solo artists, in both vocal and instrumental fields, including Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Yo Yo Ma, Midori, Itzhak Perlman, Maurizio Pollini, Mstislav Rostropovich, André Watts, Renée Fleming and Frederica von Stade.

Andreas Delfs continues to make recordings, most recently Robert Sierra's Missa Latina with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra on the Naxos label and Beethoven Piano Concertos with the London Symphony Orchestra and pianist John O'Conor on the Telarc label. Other recording projects have included a collection of sacred songs with Renée Fleming and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for the Decca label, a production of Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra released on the Avie label and the first ever digital recording of Hansel and Gretel in English, as well as a recording of Mozart's Requiem, with the St. Olaf Choir and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. In 2005, Andreas Delfs and the MSO became the first American orchestra to distribute their live recordings through online music store iTunes.

As a well-established conductor, Andreas Delfs has led numerous distinguished ensembles over the years. In Europe, he has conducted the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Dresden Philharmonic, Tonhalle Orchestra of Zurich, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Netherlands Philharmonic and Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, with whom he has recorded an album for the Decca label. In the USA, Andreas Delfs has performed with orchestras including the Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic. Elsewhere, Mr. Delfs has formed associations with the Sydney Symphony, NHK Symphony and the Taipei Symphony Orchestra.

Among Andreas Delfs' most notable operatic achievements has been his highly praised debut with the New York City Opera conducting performances of Carmen and a production of the uncut version of Hans Werner Henze's monumental König Hirsch for the Württemberg State Theatre in Stuttgart. He led four productions at the Aspen Music Festival and gave the Swiss premiere of György Ligeti's Le Grand Macabre, which received special praise from the composer. 

Born in Flensburg, Germany, Andreas Delfs began studying piano and music theory at age 5 and joined the roster of the Flensburg Stadttheater as conductor and composer by the age of 17. He studied with Christoph von Dohnányi and Aldo Ceccato at the Hamburg Conservatory and served as a staff conductor at the Lüneburg Stadttheater. At 20 Andreas Delfs became the youngest ever Music Director of the Hamburg University Orchestra and Musical Assistant at the Hamburg State Opera. Guest conductor at the Bremen State Theatre in 1981, he graduated from Hamburg Conservatory that same year. Enrolling at The Juilliard School upon the recommendation of von Dohnányi, Andreas Delfs studied with Jorge Mester and Sixten Ehrling and won the Bruno Walter Memorial Scholarship on the way to receiving his master's degree in 1984. He lives with his wife Amy and their four children in Ithaca, New York, and also keeps a base in Germany.

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