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    Francis, Michael

    Conductor and double-bassist from Wales who started performing at about eleven years of age under the tutelage of his father, a double-bass instructor.  One of his first professional engagements took place in a matter of months in Hungary, where he provided the double-bass lines for “Symphony No. 4” by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

     

    He was a member of the European Union Youth Orchestra and attended Cardiff University and the Royal Academy of Music in London.  His conducting debut occurred at Cardiff where he wielded the baton for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s overture to The Magic Flute.

     

    In 2003, he joined the ranks of the London Symphony Orchestra as a member of their double-bass section.

     

    His first experience conducting the LSO came in 2006, during a Lithuanian tour.  Valery Gergiev’s flight was delayed, and the orchestra was to perform “Symphony No. 4” by Dmitri Shostakovich that evening, a piece that had to be rehearsed.  Michael conducted the rehearsal, and it was a portent of things to come.

     

    In January of 2007, he was asked to step in again for an ailing Gergiev, this time for a rehearsal and performance of “Marchen-Poem” and “Pro et Contra” by Sofia Gubaidulina.

     

    Another opportunity arose on 4th February 2007 when he subbed for the ailing composer/conductor John Adams in a performance of “The Dharma at Big Sur”, with violinist Leila Josefowicz, “Naïve and Sentimental”, and “Slonimsky’s Earbox”.

     

    He furthered his conducting education by taking a master class with Gergiev at the Gergiev Festival, which was held in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, in 2007.  The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra was fitfully impressed and asked him to conduct several concerts in June and October of 2008.

     

    In November of 2008, he debuted with Orchestre Philharmonie du Luxembourg in concert with tenor Roberto Alagna.

     

    He supplanted Andre Previn for a series of concerts with violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and the Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart in January 2009.  The concerts featured “Double Concerto for Violin and Double Bass” by Andre Previn, “In Tempus Praesens” by Sofia Gubaidulina, and “Mathis der Maler” by Paul Hindemith.

     

    In May 2009, he conducted the Mariinsky Orchestra in a program that included the “Cello Concerto” of Sir Edward Elgar and the “Othello Overture” of Antonin Dvorak.

     

    He conducted RSO Stuttgart in a performance of Peter and the Wolf by Sergei Prokofiev and “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra” by Benjamin Britten in June 2009.

     

    In July 2009, he debuted with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra in a performance of the “Clarinet Concerto” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with soloist Ricardo Morales.

     

    He reunited with RSO Stuttgart in March 2010, when they performed the seventh symphonies of Sergei Prokofiev and Jean Sibelius.

     

    In April of 2010, he embarked on a tour of Japan and Taiwan with Anne-Sophie Mutter for concerts with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra and National Taipei Symphony Orchestra. 

     

    He debuted with the Seattle Symphony on 28th October 2010, when they performed the “Clarinet Concerto” of Aaron Copland, with soloist John Manasse, “Moz-Art a la Haydn” by Alfred Schnittke, “Symphony No. 33” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and “Symphony No. 45” (“Farewell”) by Franz Joseph Haydn.

     

    In November of 2010, he debuted with the San Francisco Symphony in the world premiere of “Five Shakespeare Sonnets” by Rufus Wainwright:  He also premiered “Lichtes Spiel” by Wolfgang Rihm with Anne-Sophie Mutter and the New York Philharmonic.

     

    His first experience with the Oregon Symphony began with a 3:00 a.m. phone call from his manager, a hastily arranged flight to Portland, and a successful debut in the absence of Maestro Alondra de la Parra in February 2011.

     

    On 10th and 11th April 2011, he supplanted Gunther Herbig as the OSO interpreted “Piano Concerto No. 1” by Sergei Prokofiev and a pair of sixth symphonies by Ludwig van Beethoven and Bohuslav Martinu.

     

    He resigned his post as double-bassist of the LSO, which allowed him to focus all of his attention on conducting, including his debut with the Houston Symphony, in June 2011.

     

    On 10th July 2011, he rejoined the San Francisco Symphony for a performance of “Piano Concerto No. 2” by Sergei Rachmaninoff, with Valentina Lisitsa at the keys, and “Symphony No. 5” by Ludwig van Beethoven.

     

    They performed “Piano Concerto No. 5” by Ludwig van Beethoven, with soloist Sara Davis Buechner, on 24th July 2011.

     

    In the spring of 2012, Michael hit the road again with Anne-Sophie Mutter and RSO Stuttgart for a performance of the “Violin Concerto” by Sebastian Currier.

     

    He was the guest conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra for a pair of concerts that included “Clarinet Concerto No. 1” by Carl Maria von Weber, with soloist Todd Levy, “Mathis der Maler” by Paul Hindemith, and “Symphony in D minor” by Cesar Franck.

     

    At the beginning of the 2012-2013 season, he began a three-year stint as Artistic Advisor and Chief Conductor of the Norrkoping Symphony Orchestra in Sweden.

     

    Recordings on which he appears include the LSO’s John Adams:  A Flowering Tree, as double-bassist, and Rachmaninov:  Piano Concerto No. 2 by Valentina Lisitsa and the LSO and Rihm:  Lichtes Spiel/Currier:  Time Machines by Anne-Sophie Mutter and the New York Philharmonic, as conductor.

     

    Sources:

    1. http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/music/alumni/profiles/michaelfrancis.html
    2. http://www.oregonlive.com/performance/index.ssf/2011/04/michael_francis_becoming_known.html
    3. http://www.euyo.org.uk/united-kingdom
    4. http://www.bbc.co.uk/orchestras/bbcnow/about/news/2011-11-11_michaelfrancis.shtml
    5. http://www.sfexaminer.com/entertainment/music/2011/07/michael-francis-history-music-makes-him-unique-conductor
    6. http://www.caerdydd.ac.uk/music/newsandevents/news/schoolnews/07francis.html
    7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ricardo_Morales
    8. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Othello_%28Dvo%C5%99%C3%A1k%29
    9. http://blogs.sfweekly.com/shookdown/2011/06/conductor_michael_francis_on_p.php
    10. http://www.gatheringnote.org/?p=7852
    11. http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/?year=2010
    12. http://www.anne-sophie-mutter.de/biografie-urauffuehrungen.html?&L=1
    13. http://pso.culturaldistrict.org/pso_home/biographies/guest-artists/michael-francis
    14. http://oregonmusicnews.com/2011/04/07/oregon-symphony-guest-conductor-michael-francis-talks-about-weilding-the-baton/
    15. http://oregonmusicnews.com/tag/michael-francis/
    16. http://thirdcoastdigest.com/2012/10/on-stage-1030-a-quiet-week-with-charitable-options/
    17. http://www.nonesuch.com/albums/a-flowering-tree
    18. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rachmaninov-Piano-Concerto-No-2/dp/B009NIFRS0
    19. http://www.discogs.com/viewimages?release=3134082

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     



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