Mischa Santora is one of the most innovative and entrepreneurial conductors of his generation. Recently appointed music director of the Boston Ballet, he will conduct a majority of their performances with the Boston Ballet Orchestra at the Boston Opera House. A champion of new music, he recently premiered works by Sally Beamish, Timo Andres, and Steve Heitzeg with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra. In addition to his busy conducting schedule, Mr. Santora is the artistic director of the acclaimed Spotlight Concerts at MacPhail Center for Music (Minneapolis), with performances at Antonello Hall and around the Twin Cities. Mr. Santora's recent composition activities include music for theatrical productions, orchestral works, and soundtracks for film, TV/radio, and podcasts. He is the founder of a promising audio start-up company SONICITY, offering customizable high fidelity soundtracks for creative professionals.
Photo: Leslie Plesser
In North America Mr. Santora has appeared with the Philadelphia, Minnesota, and Louisville Orchestras; the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Houston, National, New Jersey, Kansas City, Phoenix, Indianapolis, Richmond, North Carolina, Des Moines, Hartford, Princeton, Midland (Michigan), Eugene, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Hamilton (Ontario) Symphonies; as well as the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia.
In Europe and the Middle East he has led the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, the Basel and Lucerne Symphony Orchestras, the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra, the Budapest Matáv Symphony, the Miskolc Symphony, the Hungarian National Symphony Orchestra's Chorus, the Georgisches Kammerorchester Ingolstadt, and the Israel Chamber Orchestra.
In the Pacific Rim he was invited by the West Australian Opera Company to conduct a production of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. In addition he has appeared with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, the Taiwan National Philharmonic, and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra in New Zealand. In Latin America he has guest conducted in Mexico, Peru, and Chile, including a national tour with the Teatro del Lago Festival Orchestra in January 2015.
Mr. Santora has established an impressive track record of creative programming. During his tenure as music director of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra from 2000-2014 he led innovative productions of Mozart’s Così fan tutte, de Falla’s Master Peter’s Puppet Show, and Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. Frequently acting in a conductor/stage director role, Mr. Santora conceived productions for Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Le nozze di Figaro, as well as Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress.
Mr. Santora was the associate conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra between 2003 and 2009, where he conducted numerous subscription concerts and fully staged operatic performances. As the music director of the International Opera Festival Miskolc (Hungary) for three seasons starting in 2002, Mr. Santora has not only collaborated with many of the most established singers from Europe and Russia, but has also worked alongside Artistic Director Éva Marton on creating a new artistic profile for one of the most prestigious music festivals in Central Europe.
Between 1997 and 2002 Mr. Santora held the post of music director of both the New York Youth Symphony and the Juilliard Pre-College Orchestra, with performances at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. In addition, he has worked with some of the finest young orchestras around the world, including the New England Conservatory’s Philharmonia, the Chamber Orchestra of the Curtis Institute, the Australian Youth Orchestra, the RIAS Orchestra in Berlin, and the Jeunesses Musicales Orchestra Switzerland.
Mr. Santora’s career has been marked by his strong advocacy of New Music. Under his artistic supervision of the New York Youth Symphony’s award-winning First Music program (then chaired by John Corigliano) the organization commissioned more than fifteen new works during his tenure, a tradition he continues in Cincinnati and Minneapolis. In the Twin Cities, he has conducted the Minnesota Orchestra's Composer Institute reading sessions in addition to serving on the panel of judges selecting the composers.
Mr. Santora has collaborated with many of the world’s leading solo artists including Gil Shaham, James Galway, Jonathan Biss, Anne-Marie McDermott, Dawn Upshaw, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Ignat Solzhenitsyn, Leila Josefowitz, Elmar Oliveira, Benita Valente, Vladimir Feltsman, Gary Graffman, John Aler, Pamela Frank, Richard Stoltzman, David Jolley, Galina Gorchakova, Nikolai Putyilin, Håkan Hardenberger, Miklós Perényi, a.o.
As the recipient of the 1998 Aspen Conducting Prize, Mr. Santora was invited by David Zinman to serve as the assistant conductor of the Aspen Music Festival for three consecutive seasons (1999 – 2002). He has participated in master classes with Daniel Barenboim, Kurt Masur, David Zinman, Neeme Järvi, and Otto-Werner Mueller.
Mr. Santora has been the recipient of the UBS Culture Award and the Presser Foundation Career Grant, as well as scholarships from the Migros, Kiefer-Hablitzel, and Kurt-Dienemann Foundations of Switzerland.
Born to Hungarian parents in the Netherlands, Mr. Santora moved with his family of musicians to Switzerland where he began to study violin with his father, a member of the Lucerne Symphony. After he received a diploma in violin and teaching from the Academy for School and Church Music in Lucerne, Mr. Santora continued his violin studies with Professor Thomas Brandis, former concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic, at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin. Mr. Santora subsequently undertook conducting studies with Otto-Werner Mueller at the Curtis Institute of Music.