Mischa Santora has conducted many of the leading orchestras in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australasia. Highlights this season include performances with the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, and the Mankato Symphony. Mr. Santora was recently appointed Artistic Director of the Spotlight Concert Series at the MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis, and he is a visiting artist at St. Olaf College, conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra this year. He is currently in his 14th and final season as Music Director of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra.
In North America Mr. Santora has appeared with the Philadelphia, Minnesota, and Louisville Orchestras; the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Houston, National, New Jersey, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Richmond, North Carolina, Des Moines, Hartford, Princeton, Midland (Michigan), Eugene, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Hamilton (Ontario) Symphonies; as well as the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia.
In Europe and the Middle East he has led the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, the Basel and Lucerne Symphony Orchestras, the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra, the Budapest Matáv Symphony, the Miskolc Symphony, the Hungarian National Symphony Orchestra's Chorus, the Georgisches Kammerorchester Ingolstadt, and the Israel Chamber Orchestra.
In the Pacific Rim he was invited by the West Australian Opera Company to conduct a production of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. In addition he has appeared with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, the Taiwan National Philharmonic, and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra in New Zealand. In Latin America he has guest conducted in Mexico, Chile, and Peru.
Mr. Santora has established an impressive track record of creative programming. His performances cover repertoire ranging from early Baroque to commissioned works, and include operatic and choral performances as well as innovative collaborations with dance companies, theater troupes, and puppeteers. Highlights include his innovative performances of Mozart’s Così fan tutte, de Falla’s Master Peter’s Puppet Show, and Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. As stage director, Mr. Santora’s critically acclaimed productions include Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and Stravinksy’s The Rake’s Progress.
Mr. Santora was the Associate Conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra between 2003 and 2009, where he conducted numerous subscription concerts and fully staged operatic performances. As a former Music Director of the International Opera Festival Miskolc (Hungary), Mr. Santora has not only collaborated with many of the most established singers from Europe and Russia, but has also worked alongside Artistic Director Éva Marton on creating a new artistic profile for one of the most prestigious music festivals in Central Europe.
Between 1997 and 2002 Mr. Santora held the post of Music Director of both the New York Youth Symphony and the Juilliard Pre-College Orchestra, with performances at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. In addition, he has worked with some of the finest young Orchestras around the world, including the New England Conservatory’s Philharmonia, the Chamber Orchestra of the Curtis Institute, the Australian Youth Orchestra, the RIAS Orchestra in Berlin, and the Jeunesses Musicales Orchestra Switzerland.
Mr. Santora’s career has been marked by his strong advocacy of New Music. Under his artistic supervision of the New York Youth Symphony’s award-winning First Music program (then chaired by John Corigliano) the Orchestra commissioned more than fifteen new works during his tenure, a tradition he continues in Cincinnati and Minneapolis. In Minnesota, he has conducted the Minnesota Orchestra's Composer Institute reading sessions in addition to serving on the panel of judges selecting the composers.
Mr. Santora has collaborated with many of the world’s leading solo artists including Gil Shaham, James Galway, Dawn Upshaw, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Ignat Solzhenitsyn, Leila Josefowitz, Elmar Oliveira, Benita Valente, Vladimir Feltsman, Gary Graffman, John Aler, Pamela Frank, Richard Stoltzman, David Jolley, Galina Gorchakova, Nikolai Putyilin, Chantal Juillet, Håkan Hardenberger, Miklós Perényi, and many others.
As the recipient of the 1998 Aspen Conducting Prize, Mr. Santora was invited by David Zinman to serve as the Assistant Conductor of the Aspen Music Festival for three consecutive seasons (1999 – 2002). He has participated in master classes with Daniel Barenboim, Kurt Masur, David Zinman, Neeme Järvi, and Otto-Werner Mueller. Mr. Santora has been the recipient of the UBS Culture Award and the Presser Foundation Career Grant, as well as scholarships from the Migros, Kiefer-Hablitzel, and Kurt-Dienemann Foundations of Switzerland.
Born to Hungarian parents in the Netherlands, Mr. Santora moved with his family of musicians to Switzerland where he began to study violin with his father, a member of the Lucerne Symphony. After he received a diploma in violin and teaching from the Academy for School and Church Music in Lucerne, Mr. Santora continued his violin studies with Prof. Thomas Brandis, former concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic, at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin. Mr. Santora subsequently undertook conducting studies with Otto-Werner Mueller at the Curtis Institute of Music.