Biography

GEORGE HANSON, Conductor
Director, Tucson Desert Song Festival
Artistic Director, Sunriver Music Festival
Artistic Advisor, Orquesta Filarmonica de Sonora, Mexico

“Conductor George Hanson, protégé of Leonard Bernstein, clearly inherited his mentor’s expressive talents: dynamic energy flowed through his fingers as he conducted the Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice. In spectacular renditions of Bernstein’s scores, Hanson and the orchestra exalted in the musical themes with extraordinary musicality . . .” – Nice Matin

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 over a hundred orchestras and operas on five continents. Orchestral engagements include the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Charlotte Symphony, the Radio orchestras of Hamburg and Berlin, Warsaw Philharmonic, Zürich’s Tonhalle orchestra, the orchestras of Osaka and Seoul, the national orchestras of Colombia, Bulgaria and South Africa. Operatic highlights include Berlin’s Komische Oper, Budapest National Opera, Minnesota Opera and Arizona Opera.

Sold out concerts and exciting new programming have marked mark Hanson’s tenure as Artistic Director of the Sunriver Music Festival in Oregon, USA.

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. Hanson served for seven years as assistant to Leonard Bernstein, assisted Kurt Masur for five seasons at the New York Philharmonic and assisted Giuseppe Patane at La Scala. Trained at Vienna’s Hochschule für Musik, Italy’s Accademia Chigiana, Tanglewood, Indiana University and the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, Hanson studied under Seiji Ozawa and Franco Ferrara.

Hanson recently added trumpeter Chris Botti and violinist Pinchas Zukerman to a long list of important artistic collaborators, including Joshua Bell, Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Lang Lang, Emanuel Ax, and Peter Serkin.  A versatile musician, George has performed with Tony Bennett and Dizzy Gillespie; his work in the recording studio with the rock group R.E.M. brought triple platinum recognition.

In 2015, Hanson capped a twenty-year relationship with the Tucson Symphony as Music Director, concluding his tenure with performances of Der Rosenkavalier and Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, as well as a special performance of Das Lied von der Erde.  George’s highlights with 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.

Hanson recently formed a company, Hanson Creative Arts Management, specializing in fundraising and drawing on years of experience in the symphonic and operatic worlds, capitalizing on his business training at University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management.  Among his clients is the Tucson Desert Song Festival, where he curated a celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday, raising funding and assembling one of the largest collaborative arts efforts ever attempted:  15 major organizations and 33 events over the course of 20 days in early 2018.

George maintains a home in Tucson with his twin sons, Max and Victor.