"What Justin Brown accomplished in terms of the culture and richness of sound, virtuosic playing technique and transformative power in sound and expression in Schoenberg's Gurrelieder was, in the truest sense of the word, the crowning event of the orchestra's jubilee year..." -Karl Georg Berg, Die Rheinfalz, December 18, 2012
Internationally recognized in both the symphonic and operatic repertoires, Justin Brown is General Music Director of the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, Germany, and Music Director Laureate of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra in the United States.
Upcoming highlights in the 2013-2014 season include four US guest conducting debuts with the Oregon, Grand Rapids, and Columbus (OH) Symphony Orchestras, and the Mainly Mozart Festival orchestra of San Diego. Brown will also conduct performances of major works by Schubert, Verdi, Wagner, and Shostakovich with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, plus a commissioned harp concerto for the ASO and soloist Bridget Kibbey by Canadian composer Vivian Fung. In Germany, Brown will lead new productions of Die Fledermaus, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and Boris Godunov at the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe. Concerts with the Badische Staatskapelle include works by diverse composers ranging from Sibelius Messiaen, Stravinsky (Oedipus Rex) and the second Viennese school, to recent and contemporary composers such as Gorecki, Andrew Norman and G.F. Haas.
In six seasons as Music Director of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Brown won substantial national recognition. Under his leadership, the ASO received two first-place ASCAP awards in 2010 and 2012, and the John S. Edwards Award for Strongest Commitment to New American Music in 2011. In addition to commissioning ten new compositions from seven composers, Brown conducted major works by distinguished composers such as Elliott Carter, George Crumb, John Adams and Peter Lieberson. The Alabama Symphony’s artistic growth also led to Brown’s triumphant and “long overdue” (Alex Ross, The New Yorker) debut with the orchestra at Carnegie Hall in May, 2012, as part of the second annual Spring For Music Festival.
Since becoming music director of the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe in 2008, Justin Brown has been recognized for his expansion of the orchestra’s repertoire through a range of diverse programming. Under Brown’s leadership, the Staatstheater received the 2012 German Publisher’s Award for innovative programming and commitment to contemporary music. In Opernwelt‘s 2012 year-in-review issue of the finest opera performances in Germany, music critics Hans-Klaus Jungheinrich and Georg-Fredrich Kühn cited Justin Brown for “conductor of the year” in productions of Les Troyens by Berlioz and A Village Romeo and Juliet by Delius. During the 2012-2013 season, Justin Brown’s interpretations of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, Tannhäuser, Britten’s Peter Grimes, and Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder with the Staatskapelle received rave reviews in the European press.
As guest conductor, Justin Brown has worked with many of the world’s top orchestras, including, in the UK: the London Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Symphony, Royal Philharmonic and City of Birmingham Symphony; in Scandinavia: the Oslo Philharmonic, Finnish Radio Symphony, Bergen Philharmonic and Swedish Chamber Orchestra; in mainland Europe: the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Dresden Philharmonic, Netherlands Radio Symphony, Musikkollegium Winterthur and Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse; in the United States: the Cincinnati, Colorado, Indianapolis and Dallas symphonies; and further afield: the Malaysian Philharmonic, São Paolo Symphony, Sydney Symphony and the Tokyo Philharmonic.
Since beginning his opera career at the English National Opera and Scottish Opera, Mr. Brown has conducted at Covent Garden, Santa Fé, La Monnaie, Staatsoper Stuttgart, Oper Frankfurt, Opéra de Nantes, Opéra de Strasbourg, Teatro San Carlo/Lisbon, and the Norwegian Opera. In December 2010, he made his Bavarian State Opera (Munich) debut with L’Elisir d’amore.
Justin Brown’sdiscography includes a 2012 release of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony with the Badische Staatskapelle Karlsruhe on the Pan Classics label, praised by Christian Merlin in Diapason Magazine as “an exemplary account of the intimidating Ninth... the British conductor showed himself to be an accomplished architect, distributing tensions and relaxations with great maturity.” Brown was also recognized with a 2007 Grammy nomination for Best Classical Recording for Peter Lieberson’s The Six Realms (Bridge Records, 2006, also the winner of a 2006 WQXR Gramophone American Award), and an Editor’s Choice from Gramophone Magazine for Gershwin’s complete music for Piano and Orchestra with Anne-Marie McDermott and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (Bridge Records, 2008). Also for Bridge, he has recorded works by Carter, Ruders, Gershwin, Dvořák, and Paul Lansky. Brown also conducted a critically acclaimed recording of the Elgar and Barber cello concertos with Anne Gastinel and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra on the French label, NAÏVE.
Born in England, Justin Brown studied at Cambridge University and at Tanglewood with Seiji Ozawa and Leonard Bernstein; he later served as an assistant to both Bernstein and Luciano Berio. He made his highly acclaimed conducting debut with the British stage première of Bernstein’s Mass. Also in demand as a pianist, Mr. Brown has garnered high praise for his performances on both sides of the Atlantic. He has played and directed concertos by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninov and Shostakovich, and performs regularly in chamber music series both in the United States and Germany.