François-Xavier Roth (born Paris, 1971), one of the most charismatic and enterprising conductors of his generation is General Music Director of the City of Cologne, leading both the Gürzenich Orchestra and the Opera. His repertoire ranges from music of the seventeenth century to contemporary work encompassing all genres: symphonic, operatic and chamber.
In 2003, he founded Les Siècles, an innovative orchestra performing contrasting and colourful programmes on modern and period instruments, often within the same concert. They have given concerts in France, Italy, Germany, England and Japan. To mark the centenary of The Rite of Spring, they played the work on original instruments, including performances at the BBC Proms and the Alte Oper Frankfurt, and subsequently with the Pina Bausch company in danced performances. Their widely acclaimed recording was awarded a German Record Critics’ Prize in 2016.
With a reputation for inventive programming, his incisive approach and inspiring leadership are valued around the world. He is working with leading orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic and Staatskapelle, Royal Concertgebouw, Boston Symphony and Zurich Tonhalle. With the London Symphony, he is curating a two-season series exploring the musical legacy of the post-Romantic period.
As Principal Conductor 2010-16, he led the SWR Sinfonieorchester Freiburg & Baden-Baden in visits to London (BBC Proms), Hamburg and the Lucerne and Berlin Festivals. They performed and recorded a cycle of the symphonic poems of Richard Strauss, premiered works by Yann Robin, Georg-Friedrich Haas and Simon Steen-Anderson and collaborated with composers Wolfgang Rihm, Jörg Widmann and Helmut Lachenmann.
His second Cologne opera season features a Ravel double bill of L’enfant et les sortilèges / L’heure espagnole, a revival and tour of Berlioz’ Benvenuto Cellini and Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. With the Gürzenich Orchestra, he continues a focus on the composer Philippe Manoury, from whom the orchestra has commissioned a trilogy of works, and lead a tour of Asia in February 2017.
Outreach projects are an important aspect of François-Xavier Roth’s work. He is conductor of the ground-breaking LSO Panufnik Composers Scheme and, with the Festival Berlioz and Les Siècles, he founded the Jeune Orchestre Européen Hector Berlioz, an orchestra-academy with its own collection of period instruments. Roth and Les Siècles devised Presto!, their own television series for France 2, attracting weekly audiences of over three million.