Winston-Salem Symphony to Open 2018–2019 Season with First Music Director Candidate Concerts:Vladimir Kulenovic Conducts Brahms
Five Conductors. One Baton. You Decide

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (SEPTEMBER 24, 2018) – The Winston-Salem Symphony’s 2018–2019 season promises to be thrilling as five brilliant conductors vie for the role of Music Director. The season opens when the first candidate, Vladimir Kulenovic (pronounced “koo-LEN-o-vich”), takes the podium on Sunday, October 14 and Tuesday, October 16 for a dynamic program featuring C.M. Weber’s magical Overture to Der Freischütz (“The Magic Bullet”); Dmitri Shostakovich’s riveting Cello Concerto No. 1 with award-winning guest cellist Julian Schwarz; and Johannes Brahms’ dramatic Symphony No. 3.

“Our very own original “American Idol™”-like season-long search for your Winston-Salem Symphony’s next Music Director is beginning,” said E. Merritt Vale, Winston-Salem Symphony President & CEO. “We are extremely excited to introduce the finalists to the community and are eager to hear what you think of them. We want you to watch them conduct and meet them in other settings during their visit to Winston-Salem. You can then share your thoughts by completing a short survey after the concerts. Your feedback is invaluable, so we can make a well-informed decision about your next Music Director.”

Under the baton of Kulenovic, the concerts will take place on Sunday, October 14 at 3 p.m. and Tuesday, October 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the Stevens Center of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, 405 West Fourth Street in downtown Winston-Salem. Tickets range from $20–$76 and are available in advance by calling the Symphony Box Office at 336-464-0145 or online at

Music Lovers’ Luncheon, a fun and informative pre-concert event, will occur the Friday before each 2018–2019 Classics Concert and will give attendees a chance to get to know the five Music Director finalists and the renowned guest artists. The Music Lovers’ Luncheons will take place at Forsyth Country Club at 3101 Country Club Road in Winston-Salem. The first luncheon is Friday, October 12 from 12–1:30 p.m. This intimate afternoon event will include an enlightening discussion led by the Music Director candidate Vladimir Kulenovic and guest cellist Julian Schwarz. Music Lovers’ Luncheons are an opportunity to gain insights on the music presented and learn more about the performers personally. Advance is registration required and can be made by calling 336.464.0145. The luncheon is $25 per person.

For their Classics Concert series, each Music Director candidate was assigned two main pieces to conduct and then was given the opportunity to pick an overture of their choice. Kulenovic chose to open the concert series with Carl Maria von Weber’s Overture to Der Freischütz. He opted for this piece for a variety of reasons including, of course, it’s remarkable beauty, but he also felt adding an operatic piece formed a good contrast to the Brahms and Shostakovich, and in addition, themes of love run through all three pieces on the program tying them together thematically.

Weber composed Der Freischütz in 1821 and it, as David B. Levy, Professor of Music at Wake Forest University writes in his program notes for this concert, “quickly became the standard that defined German Romantic Opera. Supernatural events, a rural landscape (the forest), religiosity, an alienated hero, and, above all, redemptive love are its primary ingredients. It is safe to say that without Weber’s model, the operatic achievements of Richard Wagner later in the nineteenth century would have been unthinkable.”

The concerts continue with the great 20th-century composer Dmitri Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major, op. 107. Besides being a masterwork for cello, which will highlight the artistry of guest cellist Julian Schwarz, this concerto also features many beautiful moments for French horn. It is dark, intense, and powerful, a great showcase for the cello and orchestra, challenging them to achieve virtuosic heights.

Closing out this concert series is Brahms’ stunning Symphony No. 3 in F Major, op. 90. Composed between 1876 and 1884, it is the shortest and yet most complicated of his four symphonies. Dramatic and remarkable in its beauty and complexity, it is a thrilling piece that is a great way to kick off the Symphony’s 2018–2019 season.

Designated “Chicagoan of the Year in Classical Music” (Chicago Tribune) and winner of the Sir Georg Solti Conducting Prize, Vladimir Kulenovic has taken his place as one of the finest and most imaginative conductors of his generation. Hailed as the “conductor with an uncommon passion” by the distinguished Chicago Tribune critic John von Rhein, Kulenovic is currently Music Director of the Lake Forest Symphony. Having concluded four seasons as Associate Conductor of the Utah Symphony/Utah Opera, Kulenovic has also served as Assistant Conductor with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Principal Conductor of the Kyoto International Festival in Japan, and Resident Conductor of the Belgrade Philharmonic in his native Serbia. He holds diplomas in conducting from both The Juilliard School and the Peabody Institute where his teachers were Alan Gilbert, James DePreist, and Gustav Meier. He earned a bachelor’s degree in piano performance and a master’s degree in conducting from the Boston Conservatory.

Julian Schwarz was born to a multigenerational musical family in 1991. Heralded from a young age as a cellist destined to rank among the greatest of the 21st century, Schwarz’s powerful tone, effortless virtuosity, and extraordinarily large color palate are hallmarks of his style. In 2013, Schwarz won first prize in the professional cello division of the Schoenfeld International String Competition in Hong Kong, and in 2016, won first prize at the Boulder International Chamber Music Competition’s “The Art of Duo” with Canadian pianist Marika Bournaki. Following his concerto debut at the age of 11 with the Seattle Symphony and his father Gerard Schwarz on the podium, Schwarz made his US touring debut with the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra in 2010. Since then, he has led an active career as soloist and a recitalist. Schwarz is an ardent supporter of new music and often commissions new works. A devoted

teacher, he serves as Assistant Professor of Cello at Shenandoah Conservatory of Shenandoah University (Winchester, Virginia). He studied at the Academy of Music Northwest, the Colburn School with Ronald Leonard, and received both Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from The Juilliard School. He plays on a Neapolitan cello made by Gennaro Gagliano in 1743.

For full artist biographies, please visit

This concert and the Winston-Salem Symphony are sponsored by Season Presenting Sponsors Bell, Davis, & Pitt, P.A. and BB&T; Music Director Search Presenting Sponsor Mrs. Charles M. Howell; Music Director Candidate Sponsor Ray and Cathleen McKinney; Concert Sponsor Talon; Classics Media Sponsors Fox 8 WGHP and 89.9 FM WDAV Classical Public Radio; Hospitality Sponsors Leonard Ryden Burr and Carolina’s Vineyards & Hops; as well as the Arts Council of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County and the North Carolina Arts Council.

About the Winston-Salem Symphony

The Winston-Salem Symphony, one of the Southeast’s most highly regarded regional orchestras, begins its 72nd season in October 2018. The season will include performances featuring the five finalists for the Music Director position. Each candidate will conduct a pair of Classics Series concerts, and attendees will have a chance to play a role in the selection process. In addition, the 2018–2019 season will include a Plugged-In Pops series, Discovery Concerts for Kids series, an annual performance of Handel’s Messiah, the Concert for Community featuring Winston-Salem Symphony and Youth Symphony musicians, holiday concerts, three youth orchestra ensembles, and a multitude of educational and community engagement programs, including the newest offering, the P.L.A.Y. (Piedmont Learning Academy for Youth) Music program providing, primarily to under-served youth, instrumental music instruction and more. The Symphony is supported by Season Presenting Sponsors BB&T and Bell, Davis & Pitt, P.A., as well as generous funding from the Arts Council of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County, the North Carolina Arts Council, and other dedicated sponsors. For more information, visit

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This project was supported by the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources.

The Winston-Salem Symphony receives operational funding from The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County

Educational initiatives made possible with funding by Wells Fargo, The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County and The Winston-Salem and Forsyth County Schools.