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James Conlon

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Conductor James Conlon, Music Director of LA Opera and Artistic Director of the Ziering-Conlon Initiative for Recovered Voices, has long championed works by composers whose careers and lives were tragically cut short by the Nazi regime in Europe. On the occasion of the LA Opera’s forthcoming performances of Highway 1, by trailblazing African-American composer William Grant Still, and the semi-autobiographical Der Zwerg (The Dwarf) by Austrian refugee Alexander Zemlinsky, Conlon expands on the importance of works by marginalized composers.


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, Conlon is one of classical music’s most recognized figures. Conlon is Music Director of LA Opera, where since 2006 he has led more performances than any other conductor in the company’s history. He has served as Music Director of the Ravinia Festival, summer home of the Chicago Symphony, and Artistic Advisor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He is also 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. He is a noted advocate for composers suppressed by the Nazi regime and 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. His appearances throughout the country as a speaker on a variety of cultural and educational topics are widely praised. Among his numerous prizes are four Grammy® Awards for recordings with LA Opera, a 2002 Légion d'Honneur from then-President of the French Republic Jacques Chirac, a 2018 Commendatore Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana from Sergio Mattarella, President of the Italian Republic, and a 2023 Cross of Honor for Science and Art (Österreichische Ehrenkreuz für Wissenschaft und Kunst) from the Republic of Austria.


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