Internationally renowned American conductor Leonard Slatkin begins his appointment as the 12th Music Director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra commencing with the 2008-2009 season, and also serves as Principal Guest Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, another new association. He completed his 12th and final season as Music Director of the National Symphony Orchestra in 2007-2008. Mr. Slatkin continues as Principal Guest Conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Music Advisor to the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. His performances throughout North America, Europe and the Far East have been distinguished by imaginative programming and highly praised interpretations of both the standard and contemporary symphonic repertoire. Additionally, he is well-known for his arts advocacy work on behalf of music education.
Highlights of this coming season include a Far East tour with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, including performances in Shanghai, Macau and Taipei; guest engagements throughout Europe with such prestigious orchestras as the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (Geneva), Orquesta Nacional de Espana (Madrid), Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France (Paris), Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano (Milan), WDR Sinfonieorchester (Cologne); and concerts with many leading American ensembles including the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Houston Symphony and Seattle Symphony. He will also conduct several world premieres with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
Following a successful tenure as Music Director of the Saint Louis Symphony from 1979 until 1996, Mr. Slatkin was named Conductor Laureate. He has served as Festival Director of the Cleveland Orchestra’s Blossom Festival (1990-99), Principal Guest Conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra (1997-2000), Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (2000-2004), and Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl (2004-2007). In addition to his conducting appearances, Mr. Slatkin is a frequent host of musical broadcasts, which include the BBC, lending his broad knowledge and expertise.
Mr. Slatkin has made regular appearances with virtually every major international orchestra, including the New York Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, Boston Symphony Orchestra, and many others. His performances of opera have taken him to leading opera companies in the US and around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Washington National Opera, and Vienna State Opera. A recent highlight is a European tour with the Pittsburgh Symphony, stepping in at the last minute to replace Sir Andrew Davis. He is a regular guest conductor at major summer festivals such as Tanglewood, Ravinia, Aspen, Hollywood Bowl and the BBC Proms.
Leonard Slatkin’s more than 100 recordings have been recognized with seven Grammy awards and more than sixty other Grammy nominations. He has recorded with the National Symphony Orchestra, Saint Louis Symphony, Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Philharmonic, BBC Symphony and Concert Orchestras, London Symphony, and Bayerischer Rundfunk Orchestra.
Throughout his career, Mr. Slatkin has demonstrated a continuing commitment to arts education and to reaching diverse audiences. He is the founder and director of the National Conducting Institute, an advanced career development program for rising conductors. Additionally, Mr. Slatkin founded the Saint Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra and has also worked with student orchestras across the United States, including those at the Curtis Institute of Music, The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music and the Eastman School of Music. He works frequently with youth orchestras across America and abroad, including the DC Youth Orchestra, Midwest Youth Symphony Orchestra, American-Soviet Youth Orchestra, European Community Youth Orchestra, Civic Orchestra of Chicago and American Youth Philharmonic. He also reaches out to younger musicians and music teachers through the NSO American Residencies program and regularly addresses and mentors public and private school students of all ages.
Mr. Slatkin has received many honors and awards, including the 2003 National Medal of Arts (the highest award given to artists by the United States Government), the Chevalierof the Legion of Honor, the American Symphony Orchestra League’s Gold Baton for service to American music, ASCAP awards with both the National and Saint Louis Symphonies, an honorary doctorate from his alma mater The Juilliard School, the Lifetime Achievement Award at the DC Mayor’s Arts Awards, and the prestigious Declaration of Honor in Silver from the Austrian ambassador to the United States for outstanding contributions to cultural relations. Mr. Slatkin is the Arthur R. Metz Foundation Conductor at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, and beginning with the 2007-2008 season, the Distinguished Artist in Residence at the American University.
Born in Los Angeles to a distinguished musical family, his parents were the conductor-violinist Felix Slatkin and cellist Eleanor Aller, founding members of the famed Hollywood String Quartet. Mr. Slatkin began his musical studies on the violin and studied conducting with his father, followed by Walter Susskind at Aspen and Jean Morel at The Juilliard School. He is the proud parent of a teenage son, Daniel.