Internationally recognized for his moving performances, innovative programming and extensive catalogue of recordings, American conductor Gerard Schwarz serves as Music Director of the All-Star Orchestra, Eastern Music Festival, Palm Beach Symphony, and Mozart Orchestra of New York, and is Conductor Laureate of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and Conductor Emeritus of the Mostly Mozart Festival. He is Distinguished Professor of Music: Conducting and Orchestral Studies of the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami and Music Director of the Frost Symphony Orchestra.
The All-Star Orchestra is an ensemble of top musicians from America’s leading orchestras featured in 18 programs that have aired throughout the United States on public television, worldwide by online streaming and is the basis for their Khan Academy education platform that has already reached over six million students. The most recent program is a collaboration with the United States Marine Band, adding three more programs. All programs are now released by Naxos on DVD and have been awarded seven Emmy Awards and the Deems Taylor Television Broadcast Award from ASCAP.
The summer of 2020 was Schwarz’s 13th year at the artistic helm of the Eastern Music Festival, one of America’s most important summer educational institutions, bringing together world-renowned artists and exceptionally gifted worldwide young musicians. With more than 300 world premieres to his credit, Schwarz has always felt strongly about commissioning and performing new music. The Bonnie McElveen Hunter Commissioning Project with the Eastern Music Festival brings ten new world premieres from American composers to the festival over a period of ten years. Works by John Corigliano, Richard Danielpour, and Lowell Lieberman are amongst premieres so far presented.
A prolific recording artist, Schwarz’s total discography numbers over 350 on more than 11 labels. The Gerard Schwarz Collection, a 30-CD box set of previously unreleased and limited release works spanning his entire recording career was released by Naxos in November 2017. His vast repertoire includes major 20th century ballets by composers Stravinsky, Strauss, Bartók, Ravel, and Prokofiev, as well as multi-disc cycles of works by Schumann, Strauss, Wagner and Stravinsky. Schwarz’s dedication to the promotion of American music is also represented with his pioneering cycles of 26 American symphonists such as William Schuman, David Diamond, Walter Piston, Paul Creston, Peter Mennin, Alan Hovhaness and Howard Hanson. In addition to his numerous recordings with the Seattle Symphony, he has also recorded with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, English Chamber Orchestra, Juilliard Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Symphony, New York Chamber Symphony, Orchestre National de France, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Tokyo Philharmonic, and Eastern Music Festival Orchestra.
A gifted composer and arranger, Schwarz now has an extensive catalogue of works recently adding A Journey, a large-scale orchestral tone poem; his work for concert band Above and Beyond, premiered by The United States Marine Band, and a new version of Rudolf and Jeannette, also for that ensemble. A Poem, was given its first performance by the Hartford Symphony; his Triptych for violin and cello was premiered at Bargemusic, and his work for euphonium and band, based on In Memoriam and Rhapsody for Cello and Orchestra were premiered in Korea. Adagio, based on Webern’s Langsamer Satz was premiered at the Eastern Music Festival in July 2019.
Schwarz is also known for his operatic performances, having appeared with the Juilliard Opera, Kirov Opera, Mostly Mozart Festival, San Francisco Opera, Washington National Opera, and he has led 21 productions with the Seattle Opera.
A graduate of The Juilliard School, Schwarz joined the New York Philharmonic in 1972 as co-principal trumpet, a position he held until 1977. Schwarz’s numerous previous positions include Music Director of New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and New York Chamber Symphony, and Artistic Advisor to the Tokyo Philharmonic.
He completed his final season as music director of the Seattle Symphony in 2011 after an acclaimed 26 years – a period of dramatic artistic growth for the ensemble. He was instrumental in the building of Benaroya Hall, amassed a critically acclaimed discography of more than 140 recordings; numerous television programs and concert broadcasts; implemented music education programs including new series and the successful Soundbridge Center and significantly increased audience attendance.
In his nearly five decades as a respected classical musician and conductor, Schwarz has received hundreds of honors and accolades including seven Emmy Awards, 14 Grammy nominations, eight ASCAP Awards and numerous Stereo Review and Ovation Awards. He holds the Ditson Conductor’s Award from Columbia University, was the first American named Conductor of the Year by Musical America and has received numerous honorary doctorates. The City of Seattle recognized his outstanding achievements and named the street alongside the Benaroya Hall “Gerard Schwarz Place,” and the State of Washington gave him the honorary title of “General” for his extraordinary contributions as an artist and citizen. His book, Behind the Baton was released by Amadeus Press in March 2017.