As Music Director of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra and Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Orchestra, and Associate Conductor of the Houston Symphony, Robert Franz’s appeal as a first-rate conductor and enthusiastic award-winning educator is acclaimed by critics, composers and audiences of all ages.
In his sixth season as the Windsor Symphony’s Music Director, Franz has made a positive impact on the community. Known for galvanizing audiences and communities alike, he has developed collaborations with the Windsor International Film Festival, the Art Gallery of Windsor, the Canadian Historical Aviation Association, the University of Windsor, and St. Clair College. The orchestral debut of Canadian astronaut and folk guitarist Chris Hadfield performing original works inspired by his experiences in space was met with great enthusiasm. Highlights of Maestro Franz 2016–17 season included an expansion of the WSO to perform large Romantic works by Tchaikovsky and Brahms, as well as the launching of a Bach Brandeburg Concerti cycle.
Marking his ninth year as Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Orchestra Music Director, Franz, a passionate music educator, continues to provide artistic experiences for talented amateur musicians and students alike. In addition to directing the Festival Orchestra, he mentors aspiring conductors with his newly created “Art of Conducting” workshop. A champion of new music, this season Franz led performances of a number of premieres, including the Festival Chorus in the world premiere of Emerson Eads’ Mass for the Oppressed.
In addition to his current posts, Maestro Franz served as Music Director of the Boise Philharmonic from 2008 to 2016 and the Mansfield Symphony in Ohio from 2003 to 2010, as Resident Conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic from 2005–2009, and Associate Conductor of the Louisville Orchestra from 1997-2006. He continues to serve as Music Director Emeritus of the Carolina Chamber Symphony, an orchestra that he founded, and provides educational programming workshops at the National Repertory Orchestra during the summer. For more information, visit robertfranz.com.
John Morris Russell
John Morris Russell is the Conductor of the Cincinnati Pops; he is also Music Director of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, in South Carolina, where he leads the classical subscription series as well as the prestigious Hilton Head International Piano Competition. Mr. Russell also serves as Principal Pops Conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, in New York, following in the footsteps of Marvin Hamlisch and Doc Severinsen. Maestro Russell completed his eleven-year tenure as Music Director of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra in 2012, whereupon he was named the Orchestra’s first Conductor Laureate.
While Music Director of the Windsor Symphony Maestro Russell fostered unprecedented artistic growth and invigorated the musical life of the Windsor-Essex region. Notable were national broadcasts on CBC Radio 2 and the Orchestra’s first nationally televised production for the CBC series Opening Night, which later received a Gemini Award Nomination. His 2006 recording of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf with the WSO won Mr. Russell and the orchestra its first JUNO nomination for Best Children’s Album in 2008.
He also spearheaded the creation of the Windsor-Essex Youth Choir and the Windsor Symphony Youth Orchestra. Under Russell’s leadership, the WSO was awarded the Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor’s Award for the Arts, as well as the Ontario Arts Council’s Vida Peene Award for Artistic Excellence, Mr. Russell received the prestigious Herb Gray Harmony Award from the Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County, in recognition of the WSO’s programming and outreach activities in 2010. Later that year, he became the first recipient of the Arts Leadership Award of the Windsor Endowment for the Arts, and in the spring of 2011, in recognition of the enormous contribution he made to the region’s cultural life, the University of Windsor awarded John Morris Russell an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
Bruce J.G. Kotowich
Bruce J. G. Kotowich is an Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Choirs at the University of Windsor where he directs the University of Windsor Chamber Choir and University Singers. In addition to directing these choral ensembles, he teaches conducting. Dr. Kotowich is also the Chorus Master for the Windsor Symphony Orchestra and Artistic Director of the Windsor Classic Chorale.
He has conducted the Manitoba Provincial Senior High Honour Choir, Manitoba Provincial Jazz Choir, the South Dakota North Region All-State Choir, and the Illinois Music Educators Association District 8 Honor Choir. He has conducted and judged numerous other festival and conference choirs and has toured throughout North America, Europe and China with his choirs
Dr. Kotowich has presented at the Iowa Choral Directors Association Summer Conference, the National Convention of the American Choral Directors Association, North Central ACDA Regional Conferences, and the NDSU Symposium: Music of the Americas. Dr. Kotowich has published in the Choral Research Memorandum Series through Chorus America, is the editor of a choral music series for Alliance Publishing, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of Anacrusis, Canada’s Choral Journal.