The First Prize winner of the prestigious Georg Solti International Conductors’ Competition in Frankfurt, Germany, Shizuo Z Kuwahara is a frequent guest conductor of the Mariinsky Theatre and Osaka Symphony. His conducting career ascended rapidly after winning the Solti Competition, leading to conducting invitations from Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchesters Saarbrücken, Polish Chamber Orchestra, Nice Philharmonic, and Frankfurt Museumsorchester. With the invitation from Valery Gergiev, Kuwahara made a sensational debut with the Primorsky Stage of the Mariinsky Theatre with the production of Verdi’s La traviata, which resulted in a long term relationship with the company for the future seasons. In the season 2019/20 Shizuo became a principal guest conductor of the Primorsky Stage of the Mariinsky Theatre.
As a Japanese-American residing in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Mr Kuwahara has led performances throughout North & South America, Europe, and Asia, including performances with Frankfurt Museum Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, Orquesta Sinfonica de Salta, Japan Philharmonic, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Kosei Wind Ensemble, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, Osaka Symphony, Century Orchestra Osaka, Hiroshima Symphony, Nagoya Philharmonic, Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa, Polish Chamber Philharmonic, Denmark National Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Slaska, Sinfonieorchester den Nationalen Philharmonischen Gesellshaft der Uklaine Kiew, German Radio Symphony Orchestra, Wrocław Philharmonic and L’Orchestre Pasdeloup. He has also acted as musical assistant and cover conductor with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony and Orchestra de Paris.
Mr Kuwahara was with the Philadelphia Orchestra as a League of American Orchestras conducting fellow, covering and leading numerous concerts as an apprentice to Christoph Eschenbach. Other past positions include assistant conductor to Seiji Ozawa at the Saito Kinen Festival in summer of 2008, conducting the Ozawa Jyuku Orchestra. He spent his summer of 2006 in Sapporo, Japan serving as an assistant conductor to Valery Gergiev at the Pacific Music Festival. At the beginning of his career, Mr. Kuwahara served as Professor of Music and Director of Orchestral Activities at the College of William & Mary and American University, as well as an associate conductor of the Virginia Symphony. He has recently concluded 7 years tenure as the music director of Symphony Orchestra Augusta.
In addition to winning the first prize at the Solti Competition, he received additional prizes from the Malko International Conducting Competition, Tokyo International Music Competition for Conducting, the Prokofiev International Conducting Competition in St Petersburg, Russia and Fitelberg International Competition in Katowice, Poland. He is also a recipient of Georg Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award, the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, Georgia Trend 2011 40 Under 40 – Georgia’s Best & Brightest, Augusta Region’s Top Ten in Ten Young Professionals, 2011 Greater Augusta Arts Council Art Professional Award, and 2011 S&R Washington Award. The City of Yokkaichi, Japan recently appointed him as an Ambassador of Tourism, a city where Mr. Kuwahara grew up. In 2021, Shizuo Kuwahara won the 2nd prize and special prizes at the 5th Ionel Perli International Conducting Competition (Romania), and the following year, he was awarded the American Prize in “Conducting Opera” category.
Born in Tokyo, Mr Kuwahara received Master’s Degree studied conducting at Yale University, where he was awarded the Charles Ives Full Scholarship and awarded the Eleazar de Carvalho Prize. At the Eastman School of Music, he received Bachelor’s Degree and Arts Leadership Program Certificate, with honorable recognition of Performer's Certificate and the George Eastman Scholarship. In addition to studying with David Effron and Lawrence Leighton Smith at these conservatories, Mr. Kuwahara has also studied with Leonard Slatkin, David Zinman, Timothy Muffitt and Michael Jinbo at various conducting institutions, including Aspen, the National Conducting Institute, the Pierre Monteux School, and the Chautauqua Music Institute.