American conductor James Conlon has developed a vast symphonic, operatic and choral repertoire and has established enduring relationships with the world's most prestigious symphony orchestras and opera houses. Through worldwide touring to North and South America, Asia, and Europe, an extensive discography, frequent television appearances and guest speaking engagements, he has become one of today's most recognized conductors.
Mr. Conlon is Music Director of LA Opera, the Ravinia Festival (the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra) and the Cincinnati May Festival, America's oldest choral festival. He has served as Principal Conductor of the Paris National Opera (1995-2004); General Music Director of the City of Cologne (1989-2002), where he was simultaneously Music Director of the Gürzenich Orchestra and the Cologne Opera; and Music Director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic (1983-1991).
Mr. Conlon has conducted 269 performances to date at the Metropolitan Opera since his 1976 debut there. He has also conducted at La Scala in Milan, the Royal Opera at Covent Garden in London, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence.
In an effort to raise public consciousness to the significance of the lesser known works of two generations of composers who were suppressed, forced to emigrate, or were executed by the Nazi regime, Mr. Conlon has devoted himself to extensive programming of this music in North America and Europe. This includes the works of such composers as Walter Braunfels, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Hans Krása, Ernest Krenek, Erwin Schulhoff, Viktor Ullmann, Kurt Weill and Alexander Zemlinsky. He received the Crystal Globe Award from the Anti-Defamation League in 2007 for his efforts in championing the works of these composers. In Los Angeles, he initiated the Recovered Voices series, a multi-year project dedicated to this mission.
Mr. Conlon has recorded extensively for the EMI, Erato, Capriccio and Sony Classical labels. In 2009 he won two Grammy Awards (Best Classical Recording and Best Opera Album) for conducting LA Opera's production of Kurt Weill's Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, released on DVD on the EuroArts label.
In 2005 James Conlon was one of five recipients (along with Plácido Domingo) of the inaugural Opera News Awards. He has been honored with the Music Institute of Chicago's Dushkin Award and he has received honorary doctorates from the Juilliard School, Brandeis University and Chapman University. He was named Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Cultural Minister in 2004. In 2002, he received France's highest distinction from then-President Jacques Chirac: the Légion d'Honneur.