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Michael Alexander Willens, Conductor

Michael Alexander Willens received B.M and M.M degrees at the Juilliard School in New York, where he studied conducting with John Nelson. He has also studied with Jacques-Louis Monod, Harold Farberman, Leonard Bernstein at Tanglewood, and choral conducting with Paul Vorwerk. Mr. Willens is the music director for Die Kölner Akademie, an ensemble based in Cologne which performs on both period and modern instruments. His broad experience has given him an unusual depth of background and familiarity with performance practice styles ranging from Baroque, Classical and Romantic through Contemporary.He has conducted concerts for the Great Performer's series at Lincoln Center in New York, and at major festivals in Germany, Austria , France, Spain, Holland, Italy, Belgium, Estonia and Iceland, all of which received  the highest critical praise:

  •  "...performed the brilliant and closely-wrought score exactly and with real dynamism” 
  • "....well-rounded and impressive interpretation"
  • "....strove continually for keen tonal balance between strings and winds"
  • "His sense of discovery is the golden thread running through the interpretations"
  • "The success of the whole owed in large measure to the uncommonly precise, yet never affected gestures of Michael Alexander Willens"

Many of these performances were broadcast live and several were filmed for television.  In addition to performing the standard repertoire, Mr Willens is dedicated to perfoming the works of lesser known contemporary American composers and has conducted world premieres of the music of Paul Amrod, Richard Farber (which were broadcast live) and Richard Squires (which was filmed for television).  He is also  keenly interested in bringing lesser known works from the past to the fore through concerts and CDs. His recording of Johann Valentin Meders "St. Matthew Passion" on Raumklang received 5 stars in Goldberg, Fonoforum, Musik und Kirche as well as the highest praise from EARLY MUSIC (UK), Concerto (Germany) and the record Geijitsu (Japan) . His CDs on the"Forgotten Treasures" series have also received high praise and his recording of Bernhard Romberg symphonies received the Supersonic prize from Pizzicato.
His recordings on the CPO label have also received critical acclaim Recordings of the complete Mozart piano concertos with Ronald Brautigam for BIS began in November 2009. Highlights of the 2009 / 10 season include performances in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, featuring works of Mozart and Schubert; in Warsaw at the Chopin Festival featuring works of Lessel and Kurpinski , in Eisenstadt, at the Haydn Festival, featuring works of Haydn , Mozart and Chopin, in Melk, Austria at the Internationale Barocktage, featuring the premiere of an oratorio by J.J. Fux, in Paris at the Cité de la Musique, featuring works by Kurt Weill and at the Festival de la Chaise Dieu in France, featuring the french premiere of Pergolesi's Marienvespers. His recording of Johann Valentin Meders "St. Matthew Passion" on Raumklang received 5 stars in Goldberg, Fonoforum, Musik und Kirche as well as the highest praise from EARLY MUSIC (UK), Concerto (Germany) and the record Geijitsu (Japan) . His CDs on the"Forgotten Treasures" series have also received high praise and his recording of Bernhard Romberg symphonies received the Supersonic prize from Pizzicato.
His recordings on the CPO label have also received critical acclaim
Recordings of the complete Mozart piano concertos with Ronald Brautigam for BIS began in November 2009.

In addition to the Kölner Akademie, Mr Willens has guest conducted orchestras in Germany, Poland, Holland, Brazil and Israel.