Mester, The Master: Mester is recognized throughout the world as a preeminent conductor and is renowned for bringing excellence and prominence to every organization he leads. This season marks his 22nd year as music director of The Pasadena Symphony, as well as his 3rd season as music director of the Naples Philharmonic in Florida, with whom he will lead a staged operatic production of Mozart's "Don Giovanni" in November. In July 2006, Mester was invited to return as music director of the Louisville Orchestra, a position he previously held for twelve years, from 1967-1979.
When asked how he will juggle his duties with 3 orchestras, Mester replied, "In this day and age it's not unusual for conductors to have multiple posts. What you do need is a great travel agent! For example, during my years in Louisville I was also music director of the Kansas City Philharmonic and the Aspen music Festival. Later, I led the Pasadena Symphony, the Casals Festival as well as Aspen."
Mester, The Teacher: Mester's passion for conducting extends from the stage to the classroom. He has been director of Juilliard's conducting department (early 1980s), conducted concerts and operas at the USC Thornton School of Music, and led many high-profile conducting workshops around the country. This spring he will inaugurate a professional-level conducting workshop in Naples, Florida. Generations of conductors have looked to Mester for instruction, including James Conlon, Dennis Russell Davies, Andreas Delfs, JoAnn Falletta, and John Nelson.
Mester, The Mentor: Mester has mentored early in their careers such internationally acclaimed artists as Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Midori, Renee Fleming, Cho-Liang Lin, Aprile Milo and Robert McDuffie. During his 21-year affiliation with the Aspen Music Festival (1970 – 1991), Mester helped solidify the organization's reputation for recognizing and nurturing emerging world-class musicians. The Festival is renowned for fostering an exciting synergy among its distinguished faculty, acclaimed guest artists and gifted young musicians. Mester says, "This synergy allowed me to create great programs that set the festival apart both in scope and quality." Mester's programming ability is a gift for which he is still widely regarded.
Mester, In Theater: Mester's passion for opera has made him a sought-after conductor in opera houses around the world. He has conducted numerous productions for the New York City Opera, the Sydney Opera, the Spoleto Festival and the Washington Opera. Closer to home, he has pushed the boundaries of classical music presentation through a series of original "symphonic theatre" productions with The Pasadena Symphony. which These semi-staged productions incorporate classical music, dance and drama.
More Mester! Long an ardent champion of contemporary music, Mester has worked with dozens of gifted composers and has presented at least 75 world-premieres. "I've gained tremendous insight from working with these composers," says Mester. "What I have learned about their feelings about tempo, balance and musical structure helps me understand how composers from the Classical and Romantic eras may have thought about their own music." In 1985, he received Columbia University's prestigious Ditson Conductor's Award for the advancement of American music. Other Ditson Awards recipients include Leonard Bernstein, Eugene Ormandy and Leopold Stokowski. As a guest conductor, Mester has traveled the world and conducted in nearly every major venue. In Mexico City, Mester programmed a 40-week festival which featured only 20th Century Music. This unique season devoted a month to each decade of the 20th Century, and is considered a musical "first." From Cape Town to Sydney to London to Paris, Mester has put his unique stamp on orchestras and festivals around the globe.
Mester, The Man: Mester, who is of Hungarian descent, was born and raised in Mexico City. An accomplished violist, he performed with the Beaux-Arts Quartet for several years before focusing exclusively on conducting. Although he travels extensively, Mester resides in Southern California.