Winner of first prize in the prestigious Georg Solti International Conductors’ Competition in Germany, Shizuo Z Kuwahara is currently the music director of Symphony Orchestra Augusta. He was an assistant conductor at the Saito Kinen Festival in summer of 2008, where he was an assistant to Seiji Ozawa, conducted 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. 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. At the beginning of his career, Mr. Kuwahara has also served as Professor of Music and Director of Orchestra Activities at the College of William & Mary and American University, as well as an associate conductor of the Virginia Symphony.
Frequent guest conductor of the Baltimore Symphony, Nice Philharmonic and Japan Philharmonic, Mr. Kuwahara will make a debut with Salta Symphony in Argentina this season. His past guest conducting appearances includes Frankfurt Museum Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, Century Orchestra Osaka, Nagoya Philharmonic, Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa, Polish Chamber Philharmonic, Philharmonia Slaska, Sinfonieorchester den Nationalen Philharmonischen Gesellshaft der Uklaine Kiew, Nice Philharmonic, German Radio Symphony Orchestra and L’Orchestre Pasdeloup.
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 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.
Born in Tokyo, Mr. Kuwahara studied conducting at Yale University, where he was awarded the Charles Ives Scholarship and won the Eleazar de Carvalho Prize, and at the Eastman School of Music, where he was awarded the George Eastman Scholarship, Performer's Certificate and Arts Leadership Program Certificate. At these conservatories, his primary teachers included David Effron and Lawrence Leighton Smith. 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.