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Meet the Conductor: Marcelo Lehninger

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Brazilian-born conductor Marcelo Lehninger is the newly appointed Music Director of the Grand Rapids Symphony and has conducted some of the top orchestras across America and Europe.

He tells us what he is looking forward to most about coming to Melbourne and performing with pianist Nelson Freire.


This will be my first time in Australia. I am looking forward to visiting Perth, Sydney and Melbourne on this tour, to perform this beautiful and challenging program, as well as conducting my dear friend Nelson Freire.


‘Marcelo Lehninger’s conducting always tries to bring out the spirit of the message of the composer. His natural musicality and his intelligence and education give him the possibility to combine technical perfection with a high quality sound bringing out the spirit of the music he is conducting.’

Kurt Masur, conductor


The 1st of October is actually my birthday and also my first daughter’s birthday. Although I’m extremely sad to be away from her on this occasion, I am looking forward to spending my birthday doing what I like the most: conducting. Plus I’ve known Nelson since childhood and it is always a great experience to share the stage with him.

The Schumann Piano Concerto was the first piece I saw Nelson play live, I was a child at the time, and it was also the first piece we performed together.

The program I am conducting is very diverse. We have the rarely-played Szymanowski Concert Overture, the great German Romantic Schumann and we end with Respighi. Respighi studied orchestration with Rimsky-Korsakov and it is wonderful how he uses the orchestra’s colours and textures. I am also looking forward to performing Schumann with Nelson Freire. This is one of his signature pieces and I admire his interpretation immensely.


Marcelo Lehninger conducts the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra with guest artist, pianist Nelson Freire in Respighi’s Rome on Friday 30 September, Saturday 1 October and Monday 3 October.