Winner of first prize in the prestigious Georg Solti International Conductors’ Competition in Germany, Shizuo Z Kuwahara is the music director of Symphony Orchestra Augusta. Mr. Kuwahara was a League of American Orchestras Conducting Fellow with The Philadelphia Orchestra, where he served as apprentice to Music Director Christoph Eschenbach, covering and leading numerous concerts. Mr. Kuwahara has also served as an associate conductor of the Virginia Symphony.
Other past experiences include an assistantship with Maestro Seiji Ozawa at the Saito Kinen Festival and conducting the Ozawa Jyuku Orchestra (summer 2008). In 2006, in Sapporo, Japan, he was assistant conductor of Valery Gergiev at the Pacific Music Festival; 2001-5: Professor of Music and Director of Orchestra Activities, College of William & Mary and American University.
On March 27, 2011, only two weeks after the earthquake and tsunami in Sendai, Japan, SOA teamed up with the Red Cross of Augusta and organized a benefit concert called “Resounding,” where SOA musicians, staff, and community members contributed their time and energy to this cause, raising nearly $15,000. As an ongoing effort to help the victims of earthquake and tsunami, Mr. Kuwahara collaborated with UNESCO, conducting a benefit concert with L’Orchestre Pasdeloup and the renowned pianist, Cyprien Katsaris, in December of 2011 in Paris.
This season, Mr. Kuwahara is making his South American debut with Orquesta Sinfónica de Salta of Argentina, and his subscription concert debut with the Nice Philharmonic in France. He will also return to the Baltimore Symphony to conduct several family concerts. His past guest conducting appearances include Frankfurt Museum Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Japan Philharmonic, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, Century Orchestra Osaka, Nagoya Philharmonic, Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa, Polish Chamber Philharmonic, Philharmonia Slaska, Sinfonieorchester den Nationalen Philharmonischen Gesellshaft der Uklaine Kiew, German Radio Symphony Orchestra.
In 2011, Mr. Kuwahara was acclaimed in Georgia Trend’s annual “40 under 40- Georgia’s Best & Brightest;” he received the S&R Washington Award, the Greater Augusta Arts Council’s Arts Professional Award, and named as “Top Ten in Ten Young Professionals to Watch” by Augusta Chamber of Commerce.
Mr. Kuwahara has just completed his summer in Paris to further his musical studies at European American Musical Alliance, receiving a diploma from the institution. In past years, in addition to having won the first prize at the Solti Competition, he received third prize at the Malko International Conducting Competition, an Honorable Mention in the Tokyo International Music Competition for Conducting, the Prokofiev International Conducting Competition in St. Petersburg, Russia and Fitelberg International Competition in Katowice, Poland.
Born in Tokyo, Mr. Kuwahara studied conducting at Yale University, where he was awarded the Charles Ives Scholarship and won the Eleazar de Carvalho Prize; and, and at the Eastman School of Music, where he was awarded the George Eastman Scholarship, Performer’s Certificate and Arts Leadership Program Certificate. His principal teachers have included David Effron and Lawrence Leighton Smith. Mr. Kuwahara has also studied with Leonard Slatkin, David Zinman, Timothy Muffitt, Michael Jinbo and Mark Shapiro at various conducting institutions, including Aspen, the National Conducting Institute, the Pierre Monteux School, and the Chautauqua Music Institute.