The Return of the Maestro Gerard Schwarz

Gerard Schwarz Again Leads the Frost Symphony in Live Performances 

On a rainy Saturday evening in late September, something special took place at UM’s Gusman Hall: The first public, live performance in 18 months of the Frost Symphony Orchestra. Under the baton of Maestro Gerard Schwarz, the 90+ musicians of the orchestra took to the stage, performing Brahms’s 3rd Symphony, along with smaller works by Stravinsky and Valerie Coleman. Not since February 2020 had there been a full orchestra on that stage. 

The house was full – or as full as it could be with every other seat unoccupied as a Covid protocol. All the concert goers wore masks, as did orchestra members; theirs were black, to match their all-black wardrobes. And when Maestro Schwarz walked onto the stage, the house exploded with cheers. 

For any fan of classical music, nothing compares to a live performance. The orchestra is like a gigantic living creature, undulating as the music ebbs and flows. And nothing compares to watching an orchestra under the guidance of a gifted conductor like Schwarz. His control of the orchestra is visceral, and it responds like an extension of his body: As he gesticulates each section comes to life – the strings, the wind instruments, the brass, and the percussion, from violins to cymbals to French horns. 

Maestro Schwarz will tell you that, during the pandemic, the music never really died. He continued to conduct small performances of half-sized orchestras, musicians separated for social distancing, with only students allowed in the audience. And some of those performances, live-streamed, garnered huge online audiences. But as anyone knows, all music was once live, and the in-person experience is unbeatable. 

Originally trained at Julliard, Schwarz joined the Frost School in 2019 as Distinguished Professor of Music and Conductor of the Frost Symphony Orchestra. His long and stellar career has included 26 years as the music director of the Seattle Symphony, nine years as music director of New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival, and five years as the music director of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. He has recorded over 350 albums as a conductor and has received 8 Emmy awards, 14 Grammy nominations, 8 ASCAP Awards, and numerous other accolades. He is also an accomplished composer, and a champion of new music, having conducted more than 300 world premieres. 

“This [Frost] orchestra sounds like a great professional orchestra, not like students. These are gifted students, and they play on a high, professional level,” says Schwarz. “You can conduct a professional orchestra where they simply get bored. Here they care deeply, and when you get gifted musicians who care, the result is extraordinary.” 

In addition to September’s Brahms, and Mahler’s Sixth Symphony in October, Maestro Schwarz will be conducting Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (Dec. 4 at Arsht Center’s Knight Concert Hall); Strauss, Ravel, and Debussy (Feb. 12 at UM’s Gusman Hall); a world premiere opera e Leopard, March 5&6 (at SMDCAC because they have an orchestral pit); and twice more in April at Gusman (Bruckner and Mozart on April 2; Tchaikovsky and Chávez on April 30). You will thank yourself later if you book tickets now at