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Stephen Somary

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Guest Conductor

New York-born conductor Stephen Somary has spent the last twenty-five years dividing his time between conducting great orchestras and choruses of the world and leading the global resurgence of the 19th-century composer, Felix Mendelssohn.

Among the many ensembles Mr. Somary has led are the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, the Slovak Philharmonic, and the Thüringen Philharmonic, of which he served as Principal Guest Conductor from 1997–2003. Stephen Somary was also Music Director of New York City’s famed Amor Artis Chorus and Orchestra from 2011–2014, where he conducted more than 80 works ranging from the Renaissance through every era up to our own time, with special focus placed on the music of Bach and Mendelssohn.

In 1997, Stephen Somary founded The Mendelssohn Project, of which he is Artistic Director and Principal Conductor. This non-profit organization, with branches in both New York and Germany, has spent decades researching the vast amount of unpublished music, letters, and artworks by Felix Mendelssohn, and has been sharing its findings with the world. The reasons that so much of this master’s work have remained unknown are both chilling and extraordinary. The culmination of the past quarter century of work will be an expansive new website, which the team of The Mendelssohn Project has spent the last six years creating. Release of this website is planned for late-2023.

In collaboration with The Mendelssohn Project, Maestro Somary has given numerous premiere performances of works by Mendelssohn, in both choral and orchestral genres. These concerts have included the United States premiere on period instruments of his Symphony No. 2, ‘Lobgesang’ at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the world premiere of the original version of Die erste Walpurgisnacht, with the Fairfield County Chorale. It was also in Fairfield where he conducted Mendelssohn’s Elijah in a new edition which used the composer’s manuscript as its source for the very first time. In addition, he conducted the New York City premiere of the unknown final version of the famous Italian Symphony, as well as the world premiere of many smaller choral works.

A versatile conductor, Somary has earned critical acclaim conducting performances of Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, as well as the Mahler Symphony No. 3 at Symphony Hall in Boston.

Mr. Somary has been praised as a highly acclaimed interpreter of American repertoire. His discography includes a recording on the Claves Records label with the Nürnberg Symphony Orchestra of Ives’s Symphony No. 2, Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, and the world premiere recording of Cowell’s Symphonic Set. Le Monde de la Musique describes this recording as: “A vitally important disc . . . The Ives proves a worthy comparison to the three leading versions –  two by Bernstein and one by Tilson-Thomas.” Somary has also made three recordings of the music of the American composer David Chesky with the Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg-Berlin and the Slovak Philharmonic and Chorus: “Excellent playing and recording” (Gramophone), “Well played and beautifully recorded” (Billboard). Another CD for Claves Records with the Thüringen Philharmonic features Elgar’s Symphony No. 1:  ” . . . a gifted American, Stephen Somary . . . paces the entire work in a manner which marks him as both a born conductor and a serious, dedicated musician . . . I should not be surprised if his future career establishes him as one of the most admired conductors of his generation.” (Musical Opinion, London).

Somary has been sought after as an author for program notes for concerts and CDs, as well as for features in The Huffington Post, and the Leonard Bernstein Newsletter. He is chief contributor and senior editor for the upcoming website for The Mendelssohn Project.

Stephen Somary’s early career was shaped by conducting studies with Henry Bloch, Eiji Oue at Boston University, Norman Del Mar and Sir David Willcocks at the Royal College of Music, London, and with Leonard Bernstein, for whom he also served as music assistant and composition assistant from 1984 until 1990.