ROCHESTER, NY American-born conductor Neil Varon, who has had a prominent European conducting career spanning the last 30 years, has been named professor of conducting and ensembles at the Eastman School of Music, effective July 2002. In addition to teaching conducting, Varon will conduct the Eastman Philharmonia, Eastman School Symphony Orchestra, and Eastman Chamber Orchestra.
Varon has served as music director with numerous European and specifically German opera orchestras, including positions with the Istanbul Opera, Vienna Chamber Opera, Bremen Opera and the Nurnberg Opera. "It is amazing how surely Varon brings this music into bloom, how much strength, how much dramatic fire and passion he discovers," proclaimed a reviewer in the international Opernwelt Magazine.
In 1981, Varon was named the first Kapellmeister of the Deutsche Opera am Rhein in Düsseldorf. From 1987 to 1991, he was the music director of the Sudwestfälische Philharmonic, followed by the appointment as general music director of the City of Gelsenkirchen where he was chief conductor of the Gelsenkirchen Philharmonic. Since 1996, Varon has concentrated on his international guest appearances, which have taken him all over the globe in concerts, festivals, and on television and radio broadcasts. He has conducted in Japan, Korea, Hungary, Italy, Sweden, Canada, and in the United States, where he conducted a new production of Humperdinck’s "Die Königskinder" at the Sarasota Opera. Varon also spent a year as guest professor at the renowned Toho Gakuen Conservatory in Tokyo.
Born in New York City, Varon studied piano, composition, and conducting at the Juilliard School. He coached under Leonard Bernstein at Tanglewood, and with Jean Morel and Alfred Wallenstein, who Varon says was a major influence during his master’s degree studies. He is happy to get back to his "first love" of symphony orchestra conducting. "I look forward to working with Eastman’s talented young musicians, and giving them the benefits of my professional experience," says Varon. "I hope to enrich our musical community not only with our performances, but also to reach out for meaningful dialogue with other artists and the public.
Varon joins Eastman conducting faculty members William Weinert, Mark Scatterday, and Bradley Lubman. For more information on the Eastman School, visit www.rochester.edu/Eastman.
N.B. Interviews and photos are available.