After being led by invited guest conductors and faculty members, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts Symphony Orchestra has a new music director with deep roots in the Triad.

UNCSA alumnus Robert Franz will set the artistic vision for the school’s orchestral program.

Franz, who graduated in the 1990s with a Bachelor of Music in oboe and a Master of Music in conducting, has been a resident conductor at his alma mater, and he’s guest conducted the Winston-Salem Symphony.

He’s also led major orchestras across the country, and is the co-founder of the Idaho Orchestra Institute for young musicians. In 2022 Franz concluded a 14-year associate conductorship of the Houston Symphony. He says his years at UNCSA were formative in terms of his appreciation for music, ability as a performer, and as an arts entrepreneur.

"The idea of being able to go back and help other young musicians sort of have these experiences is really extraordinary to me," says Franz. "I mean I’ve always loved teaching, and I mean I do it in other places, but there’s something extraordinarily special about going back to the place where it happened for you and being able to be a part of that continuum."

Franz currently directs the Windsor Symphony Orchestra in Ontario. He’ll begin his new tenure at UNCSA with the 2023-24 academic year and performance season.

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