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Cleveland Orchestra Music Director Franz Welser-Möst named Musical America’s 2003 Conductor of the Year

New York, December 10 - Franz Welser-Möst, Music Director of The Cleveland Orchestra, has been named Musical America’s 2003 Conductor of the Year. The Musical America International Directory of the Performing Arts honored its 2003 Award recipients at a ceremony held today at Carnegie Hall. Other winners are the Kronos Quartet, Musicians of the Year; Tan Dun, Composer of the Year; Evelyn Glennie, Instrumentalist of the Year; and Deborah Voigt, Vocalist of the Year.

Conductor of the Year: Franz Welser-Möst

Austrian conductor Franz Welser-Möst is in his first season as Music Director of The Cleveland Orchestra. Mr. Welser-Möst first conducted The Cleveland Orchestra in 1993 and has maintained a close relationship with the Orchestra since that time. His appointment as Music Director, with an initial five-year contract, was announced in 1999.

Following a gala Opening Night Concert on September 14, Franz Welser-Möst began The Cleveland Orchestra’s 2002-03 subscription season with performances of Haydn’s The Creation. In October, he led the Orchestra on a Midwest tour, and in January and February he will lead the Orchestra on an East Coast tour that includes a Carnegie Hall residency. He will close the 2002-03 Severance Hall season with concert performances of Verdi’s Don Carlo. In Cleveland, he also is participating in a number of community concerts and educational programs.

As a guest conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra, Mr. Welser-Möst led over 70 concerts in a wide-ranging repertoire. Among the highlights of these concerts were critically-acclaimed performances of Haydn’s The Seasons, Messiaen’s Turangalîla Symphony, Mozart’s Requiem, the oratorio The Book of the Seven Seals and Fourth Symphony of Franz Schmidt, Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden” String Quartet (arranged for string orchestra by Mahler), and symphonies by Bruckner (Nos. 2 and 5), Beethoven (No. 4), Brahms (No. 1) and Shostakovich (No. 14).

Since making his American debut with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra in 1989, Mr. Welser-Möst has returned regularly to the United States, appearing with the orchestras of Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and Saint Louis.

Franz Welser-Möst served as Music Director of the Zurich Opera from 1995 to 2002, having made his debut there in 1992 with Der Rosenkavalier. During his tenure, he conducted 27 new productions and, each season, led numerous revivals, including operas from the French, German, Italian and Slavic repertoires. Highlights of his tenure as Music Director in Zurich include Wagner’s complete Ring Cycle during the 2001-02 season with an additional performance of the cycle at the 2002 Zurich Festival. At the beginning of the 2002-03 season, Mr. Welser-Möst became Principal Conductor of the Zurich Opera. His performances in Zurich for the 2002-03 season include a television production of Berg’s Lulu in October, performances of Schubert’s Fierabras in November, a revival of Wagner’s Tannhäuser in March (with a concert performance at the Royal Festival Hall in London on March 30), a new production of Korngold’s Die tote Stadt beginning in April, and a new production of Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail that opens the 2003 Zurich Festival in June, with further performances continuing into July. Mr. Welser-Möst also has conducted at the Vienna State Opera, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, and at the Glyndebourne Festival in Great Britain.

Mr. Welser-Möst’s rise to international fame as a conductor began in 1986 when he made his debut with the London Philharmonic, commencing a relationship that developed over the next four years and resulted in his being appointed music director in 1990, a position he held for six years. Mr. Welser-Möst works regularly with the Vienna Philharmonic, having made his debut with the orchestra in 1998. In November 2002, he conducted the Vienna Philharmonic in performances of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis in Vienna, and in Rome as part of the Festival di Musica e Arte Sacra, under the auspices of the Vatican. Mr. Welser-Möst made his Berlin Philharmonic debut with concerts in January 2002. He also regularly conducts the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Camerata Salzburg, with whom he will perform Haydn’s The Seasons in Vienna, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam during March 2003. He also will lead the ensemble in arrangements of the last six Beethoven String Quartets over a three-year period at the Schubertiade Festival. Mr. Welser-Möst also has conducted the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra many times since the ensemble’s founding in 1986. Their recording of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 was released recently by EMI.

Mr. Welser-Möst made numerous recordings with the London Philharmonic under an exclusive recording contract with EMI, including music of Mozart, Bruckner and Schumann, and 20th-century works by Schmidt, Stravinsky, Orff, Kancheli, and Pärt. His recording of Franz Schmidt's Symphony No. 4 won the 1996 Gramophone Award for “best orchestral recording.” His recording of Bruckner’s Mass No. 3 and Te Deum was nominated for a Grammy Award, as was his first recording with the Philadelphia Orchestra, of music by Korngold. More recent releases are HK Gruber’s Frankenstein!!, Schmidt’s The Book of the Seven Seals (which received a Grammy nomination), Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden” String Quartet (as orchestrated by Mahler) coupled with Schreker’s Chamber Symphony, and the world-premiere recording of Johann Strauss Jr.’s Simplicius with the Zurich Opera Orchestra, which won the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis.

In October 1995, Mr. Welser-Möst received an “Outstanding Achievement Award” from the Western Law Center for Disability Rights in Los Angeles in recognition of his personal support and advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities, and in particular for his support of the Hartheim Institute, a home for the disabled in Linz, Austria. In November 2002, Mr. Welser-Möst was named an honorary member of the Vienna Singverein. Mr. Welser-Möst was born in Linz.

Musical America established its Musician of the Year award in 1960. The four categories of composer, conductor, instrumentalist, and vocalist were added in 1991 due to the expansion of the classical-music community in the intervening years. Ensemble, accompanist, and educator awards were subsequently established. Previous winners of the Conductor of the Year award include The Cleveland Orchestra’s music director laureate, Christoph von Dohnányi (1992); Wolfgang Sawallisch (1993); Gerard Schwarz (1994); Michael Tilson Thomas (1995); Valery Gergiev (1996); Colin Davis (1997); David Robertson (2000); and Kent Nagano (2001).

The Musical America International Directory of the Performing Arts has been considered an authoritative guide to the music business for many years. This year's edition profiles the 2003 winners and contains comprehensive listings, artist managers' reports, and overviews on 2002 milestones in the worlds of classical music and jazz. In addition, a special feature examines the greatest challenges facing the arts in the wake of global economic and political shock waves. Thirteen people from the field-in management, education, philanthropy, the media, publishing, and presenting-weigh in on the subject.

Nikki Scandalios, (216) 231-7472
Email: nscandalios@clevelandorchestra.com

Timothy Parkinson, (216) 231-7473
Email: tparkinson@clevelandorchestra.com

Julie Demorest, (216) 231-7476
Email: jdemorest@clevelandorchestra.com

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