Acclaimed conductor, Robert Franz, recognized as “an outstanding musician with profound intelligence,” has held to three principles throughout his career: a commitment to the highest artistic standards, to creating alliances and building bridges in each community he serves, and a dedication to being a strong force in music education. As Music Director of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, Associate Conductor of the Houston Symphony, and Artistic Director of the Boise Baroque Orchestra, he has achieved success through his focus on each of these principles.
His 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.” Franz is in increasing demand as a guest conductor, having collaborated with the Cleveland Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, North Carolina Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, and Italy’s Orchestra da Camera Fiorentinas. 2021 marks his debut with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. His versatility has led to performances with a wide array of artists, including James Galway, Joshua Bell, Rachel Barton Pine, Chris Botti, Idina Menzel and Judy Collins as well as his work with composers such as John Harbison, Jennifer Higdon and Jordan Pal. An eloquent speaker, Franz recently presented a TEDx Talk entitled Active Listening and Our Perception of Time.
In his eighth season as Music Director with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, Franz was recognized by The Windsor Endowment for the Arts with its Arts Leadership Award. Faced with the challenge of maintaining a vital arts presence in the face of a pandemic, highlights of the 2020/2021 season include two curated digital concert series that he led and hosted. Recent collaborations include the Windsor International Film Festival, Art Gallery of Windsor, Windsor Public Library, Canadian Historical Aviation Association, and the University of Windsor.
Franz’ serves as Artistic Director of the Boise Baroque Orchestra where he curated and led two digital concert series during the 2020/2021 season. Under his leadership, the orchestra has collaborated with Grammy Winning tenor, Karim Sulayman and will undertake its first commercial recording project of Classical Oboe Concerti for Centaur Records featuring rising star oboist Bhavani Kotha.
This season Franz celebrates his 13th year as Associate Conductor of the Houston Symphony where he was recently honored with the Raphael Fliegel Award for Visionary Leadership to celebrate his immense success in advancing the organization’s education and community engagement activities. The 2020-2021 season featured Franz leading the North American premiere of Author Dan Brown’s musical children’s book, “Wild Symphony.”
As Co-founder and Conductor of the Idaho Orchestra Institute, now in its fifth year, Franz takes young musicians on an exploration of major orchestral repertoire that explores the complete musician.
In addition to his current posts, Franz served as Music Director of the Boise Philharmonic from 2008-2016, and the Mansfield Symphony (OH) from 2003-2010. When not on the podium he can be found on the slopes, skiing slowly and carefully, stretching in a yoga class, and non-competitively trying his hardest to win at a game of cards with his family.
Daniel Wiley is currently the Associate Conductor of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra (WSO) where he conducts over 50 concerts a season, and leads the organizations three community ensembles (WSJYO, WSYO, and WSCO). Most recently, Daniel has been instrumental in expanding the WSO’s educational footprint by created a Digital Education Concert Series which includes 10 hours of interactive music curriculum for schools. Lauded as “an exemplar of impassioned and outstanding pedagogy” (Dr. Ken Montgomery, Dean of the Faculty Education, University of Windsor) this program to date has severed over 68,800 students across Canada and the United States. Daniel is also the conductor for the Windsor Abridged Opera, an education consultant for London Symphonia, and is the second prize recipient of the Smoky Mountain Conducting Institute and Competition (2019) and the Los Angeles Conducting Competition (2019).
Prior to his tenure in Windsor, Daniel served as a cover conductor for the Abilene Philharmonic, Music Director for Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science Youth Orchestra and was the Assistant Conductor for the Meridian Symphony Orchestra. He has also spent time conducting new music ensembles including the Musicbed Music and Film Corporation based in Fort Worth Texas. As a former public school music teacher and passionate music educator, Daniel is frequently a clinical for music programs throughout the United States and Canada.
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.
Conductor Laureate, John Morris Russell continues to devote himself to redefining the North American orchestral experience. Music Director of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra between 2001-2012, Maestro Russell is currently his eleventh year as conductor of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, one of the world’s most iconic pops orchestras. Music Director of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina since 2012, Mr. Russell leads the prestigious Hilton Head International Piano Competition; he also serves as Principal Pops Conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.
As a guest conductor, Mr. Russell has worked with many of North America’s most distinguished orchestras including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Boston Pops, National Symphony Orchestra as well as the orchestras of Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver. He regularly leads the National Orchestral Institute and Festival in College Park, Maryland. Mr. Russell’s recent collaborations around the world include Aretha Franklin, Emanuel Ax, Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Garrick Ohlsson, Rhiannon Giddens, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Jon Kimura Parker, Michael McDonald, Cynthia Erivo, Sutton Foster, George Takei, Steve Martin, Brian Wilson, and Leslie Odom, Jr.
As Music Director of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, he conducted over forty world premieres many of which were presented on seventeen national broadcasts for CBC Radio 2, and the orchestra’s first nationally televised production for the CBC series “Opening Night”. His recording of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra earned Mr. Russell and the WSO its first Juno nomination for “Best Children’s Album” in 2008. Maestro Russell has contributed six albums to the recorded legacy of The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, including recent releases Voyage (2019) and American Originals 1918 (2018) for which he was awarded a GRAMMY Nomination for “Best Classical Compendium”. His world premiere recording of Blind Injustice, with Cincinnati Opera was released in February of 2021.