Sebastian Lang-Lessing, Music Director

German conductor Sebastian Lang-Lessing is among the most versatile and cultivated musical artists of his generation. Fluent in multiple languages, interested in a wide range of repertoire, and equally experienced in orchestra culture and opera theatre, his dynamic performances have garnered praise from the international press: “[The] performance’s sophistication and sensuality comes from the pit” (Los Angeles Times); “The evening’s musical interpretation under the baton of conductor Sebastian Lang-Lessing won generous applause.” (Berliner Zeitung); “The orchestra sparkles and glows under the heated conducting of Sebastian Lang-Lessing. Viva Carmen!” (Houston Press); “The orchestra excelled, finding what sounded like an extra dose of inspiration in conductor Sebastian Lang-Lessing, who relished every prismatic detail in Verdi’s score as he applied equal amounts of momentum and sensitivity to the performance.” (Baltimore Sun)

Mr. Lang-Lessing began his tenure as music director of the San Antonio Symphony in the 2010–11 season; he is the orchestra’s eighth director in its history.

The 2013-14 season in San Antonio includes a Dvorak Festival, featuring Symphonies Nr. 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9, the Cello Concerto with Jian Wang, Violin Concerto with Nancy Zhou, and Piano Concerto with Michel Dalberto, as well as concert performances of Rusalka. Other soloists this season include Joshua Bell, Karen Gomyo, Jonathan Biss and Tine Thing Helselth. He also conducts Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt with Dallas Opera, debuts with Seattle Opera for their prestigious International Wagner Competition, and conducts a tour by Teatro San Carlo of Naples to the Royal Opera House Muscat in Oman, featuring Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and a Verdi Gala concert. On the concert stage he leads Mendelssohn’s 2nd Symphony with the Gran Canaria Orchestra, the Naples Philharmonic (Florida) for a concert programme with Renée Fleming, the Belgrade Philharmonic in a programme with the Schumann Cello Concerto and excerpts from Berlioz’ and Prokfiev’s Romeo and Juliet, and the Tianjin Symphony in China with Brahms’s Symphony Nr. 3 and Bruckner’s Symphony Nr. 6. In September 2013, Renée Fleming’s new album Guilty Pleasures was released on Decca, featuring the Philharmonia Orchestra under the baton of Mr. Lang-Lessing.

The 2012-13 season included a very successful debut with the Milwaukee Symphony, a return to the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra for a Rachmaninov and Brahms programme, and a return to the Deutsche Oper Berlin for Wagner’s Rienzi, a production he premiered at the theatre.  With the San Antonio Symphony he conducted a Brahms Festival with the four symphonies, both piano concerti, the violin concerto and the double concerto for violin and cello, all in 10 days, as well as numerous other exciting programmes. Other concert dates included the Cincinnati Symphony, Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire, and Orquestra Filarmonica de Malaga. His 2011-12 season in San Antonio included all the Beethoven Symphonies. He also served as chief conductor and artistic director of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra from 2004 to 2012.

Lang-Lessing regularly appears on the podiums of the world’s preeminent opera houses, including the Paris Opera, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Opera Colorado, Bordeaux Opera, Washington National Opera, Hamburg State Opera, and in Oslo, and Stockholm. He has a particularly close connection with Cape Town Opera, having conducted many performances in Cape Town and on tour with the company. Among his recent opera engagements was a highly acclaimed new production of Wagner’s Rienzi with the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the DVD of which was released by Unitel. Other recent engagements include Falstaff at Washington National Opera, Les Pêcheurs de Perles and La Bohème with Opera Colorado and Porgy and Bess at Norwegian National Opera in Oslo.

Sebastian Lang-Lessing was awarded the Ferenc Fricsay Prize in Berlin at the young age of 24, and he subsequently took up a conducting post at the Hamburg State Opera. His other previous posts include eight years as resident conductor at Deutsche Oper Berlin, and chief conductor and artistic director of the Orchestre Symphonique et Lyrique de Nancy for seven years. Under Maestro Lang-Lessing’s direction, the Nancy Opera was elevated to national status, becoming the Opéra National de Lorraine. His early music studies were at the Hamburg State Conservatory.

Equally renowned for his work on the concert stage, Lang-Lessing has led performances with major orchestras across the globe, including the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre de Toulouse, Orchestre de Bordeaux, Orchestre de l’Opéra de Lyon, Orquesta Filarmonica Malaga and top orchestras in Australia, among others.

Sebastian Lang-Lessing also has an extensive discography with the Tasmanian Symphony, highlighted by the complete symphonies of Mendelssohn and Schumann, as well as recordings of music by Saint-Saëns, d’Indy, Franck, Ravel, Bruch and Australian contemporary composer Brett Dean. Further recordings with the orchestra include Mozart’s three final symphonies; a disc featuring pianist Kirill Gerstein in the piano concertos of Ravel and Mendelssohn; and a recording of Grieg’s Peer Gynt and Holberg Suites. Lang-Lessing is also well known for his rediscovery of the music of French composer Joseph-Guy Ropartz; CD releases of his symphonies with Orchestre Symphonique et Lyrique de Nancy received critical acclaim.

Sebastian Lang-Lessing holds the Tobin Endowment Music Director Chair.