Mischa Santora enters his seventh season as Music Director of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and third season as Associate Conductor for the Minnesota Orchestra. He previously held the post of Music Director of the New York Youth Symphony from 1997-2002.Santora’s recent and future orchestral conducting appearances in North America include the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Louisville Orchestra, and the Houston, National, Kansas City, Hartford, Indianapolis, Eugene, and Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestras. In Europe auspicious debuts include Zurich’s Tonhalle Orchester, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra, the Budapest Matáv Orchestra, the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, and the Orchestra of the Jeunesses Musicales Switzerland in a tour of their native country.
In the Pacific Rim he has toured Australia with the Australian Youth Orchestra, returns to the Auckland Philharmonia in New Zealand, and makes his debut with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra.In addition to his extensive symphonic activities, Santora is active in the operatic world, having recently completed a multi-year tenure as Music Director of the International Opera Festival Miskolc (Hungary), which allowed him to conduct a wide range of operatic presentations over several summers. In the United States, as co-founder of Melopoeia Opera in Boston, Santora has mounted productions as diverse as Dido and Aeneas, Riders to the Sea, and La serva padrona in innovative, less traditional performance settings. Santora has also conducted the Minnesota Orchestra’s fully staged production of Hansel und Gretel and due to its success will repeat these performances this season. He recently conceived a highly innovative production of Così fan tutte for the opening performances of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra’s Mozart Festival in June 2006.
Santora’s early career has been marked by his strong advocacy of music by living composers. Under his artistic supervision of the New York Youth Symphony’s “First Music” program (chaired by John Corigliano) the orchestra commissioned more than 15 new works during his tenure and each season received the ASCAP award for adventuresome programming. Now in his role as Associate Conductor for the Minnesota Orchestra he conducts in that Orchestra’s annual “Composers Readings,” which has been a mainstay of the Minnesota Orchestra’s new music activities for many seasons.With the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra Santora launched a highly successful “Musical Explorations” series in an interactive format to introduce 20th-century composers such as Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Ives, Cowell, Varèse, Jolivet, Adams, and Britten to a wider audience. Santora has collaborated with many of the world’s great solo artists, including Richard Stoltzman, Gary Graffman, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Benita Valente, Vladimir Feltsman, John Aler, Pamela Frank, Elmar Oliveira, Ignat Soltzhenitsyn, David Jolley, Galina Gorchakova, Nikolai Putyilin, and Chantal Juillet, among many others.As a recipient of the 1998 Aspen Conducting Prize, Santora was invited to act as the Assistant Conductor for the Aspen Music Festival for three consecutive seasons (1999-2002).
He has participated in masterclasses with Daniel Barenboim, Kurt Masur, David Zinman, Neeme Järvi, and Otto-Werner Mueller. Santora has been the recipient of many conducting honors from institutions such as the Presser Foundation, and the Kiefer-Hablitzel and the Kurt-Dienemann Foundations of Switzerland.Born to Hungarian parents in the Netherlands, Mischa Santora moved with his family to Switzerland, where he maintains citizenship. His upbringing in a musical family set him on a course of study leading to certificates in violin and teaching from the Academy for School and Church Music in Lucerne and the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin. He began violin studies with his father, a member of the Lucerne Symphony, and while in Berlin, studied with Thomas Brandis, former concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic. Santora subsequently undertook conducting studies with Otto-Werner Mueller at the Curtis Institute of Music, from which he graduated in 1997.