George Hanson was named TDSF’s Festival Director in mid 2015. Since first drawing international attention with first prize wins at the Budapest and Stokowski conducting competitions, George Hanson’s career has taken him to more than 20 countries, conducting more than a hundred orchestras and operas on five continents—including the radio orchestras of Hamburg and Berlin, Berlin’s Komische Oper, Vienna’s Kammeroper, the Hungarian National Opera in Budapest, the Warsaw Philharmonic, the orchestras of Osaka and Seoul, and the National Symphonies of South Africa, Mexico and Columbia. US engagements include the New York Philharmonic, the orchestras of Atlanta, Indianapolis, Phoenix and Charlotte, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Arizona Opera.
Hanson recently made his conducting debut with the Chicago Symphony, performing with Joshua Bell and Chris Botti. He currently serves as Artistic Advisor to Orquesta Filarmonica de Sonora in Mexico, and Music Director of the Sunriver Music Festival in Oregon.
In Germany, as General Music Director of the Wuppertal Opera and Orchestra for six seasons, Hanson oversaw more than 50 opera productions, garnered national recognition for the orchestra’s Mahler and Shostakovich concert cycles, and won the Echo Klassik award for best classical recording. The important German audio magazine Stereoplay wrote, “Hanson had the Wuppertalers sounding as if they were the Berlin Philharmonic.”
Hanson served for seven years as assistant to Leonard Bernstein, assisted Kurt Masur for five seasons and assisted Giuseppe Patanè at La Scala. Trained at Vienna’s Hochschule für Musik, Italy’s Accademia Chigiana, Tanglewood, the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, Hanson studied under Seiji Ozawa and Franco Ferrara.
In 2015 Hanson capped a 20-year relationship with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra as music director, concluding his tenure with performances of Der Rosenkavalierand Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, as well as a special performance of Das Lied von der Erde. His many highlights with the TSO include performing Mozart piano concerti (conducting from the keyboard), releasing the orchestra’s first-ever CD recording to international acclaim, and receiving the Certificate of Congressional Special Recognition from Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords for service to the community. Commitments to education and community outreach have been hallmarks of Hanson’s time in Tucson.