Having completed over a decade of extraordinary artistic leadership, George Hanson begins his 13th season as Music Director and Conductor of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra in 2008. Critics have noted remarkable artistic growth by the Tucson Symphony Orchestra during George Hanson’s tenure as Music Director since 1996, firmly establishing his reputation as an orchestra builder.
George Hanson has appeared with nearly ninety symphony orchestras and opera companies in 19 countries, including the New York Philharmonic, Indianapolis and Charlotte symphonies, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Arizona Opera, the orchestras of Warsaw, Stuttgart and Budapest, the Radio orchestras of Berlin and Hamburg, the Mulhouse Orchestra in France, the South African National Symphony, the Osaka Symphony, the National Symphony of Mexico and the Nuremberg and Bremen Symphony Orchestras in Germany. He served as General Music Director of the Wuppertal Symphony in Germany for seven years, concurrent with his position with the TSO. Of his performance of the Fifth Symphony, critics in Bremen wrote “Hanson lived up to his reputation in Germany as a Shostakovich expert… The ovations were unending at the extraordinary artistic drama…” (Tageszeitung, Sept. 2005). His appearances at Carnegie Hall and Opera Bastille in Paris were similarly widely acclaimed.
In the U.S., Mr. Hanson served as Associate Conductor of the Atlanta Symphony from 1988 to 1993, assisted Kurt Masur at the New York Philharmonic from 1993 to 2000, and was Music Director of the Anchorage Symphony from 1994 to 1999. For the TSO’s Mozart festival in 2006, Mr. Hanson debuted as pianist on a MasterWorks Chamber Orchestra Series program while conducting Mozart’s Concerto No. 23 from the keyboard.
In 2003, Mr. Hanson received the Echo Klassik award for his recording of music of Anton Rubinstein, joining conductors Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Simon Rattle as recipients of this prestigious honor, second only to the Grammy in international importance.
A versatile musician, he shared the stage with his mentor and teacher Leonard Bernstein at Tanglewood, appeared with Tony Bennett and Dizzy Gillespie, and recorded with the rock group R.E.M. He has been featured on CBS’s Sunday Morning, NBC’s Today Show, NPR and Deutsche Welle, and was named “Young Musician of the Year” by Musical America.
He received his formal training at the Vienna Academy of Music, The Curtis Institute, Indiana University and Concordia College. The sixteenth conductor in the TSO’s 79-year history, Mr. Hanson resides in Tucson with his wife, Petra, and their three sons.