"British conductor Michael Francis made his Cleveland Orchestra debut Saturday night with a mostly English program…and concluded with a stunning realization of Vaughan Williams’ epic Symphony No. 2, a portrait of the city the composer lived in and loved for significant periods…Francis led a brilliant and committed performance of this large and colorful canvas of a symphony, keeping close rein on the sprawling structure of the huge first movement while eliciting countless lovely details from the orchestration. His grasp of the work’s drama was sure, and his ear for Vaughan Williams’ textures in the Lento and the Whistler-esque Scherzo — the former an essay in grays, mauves and muted blues, the latter a fantasia of pulsing darkness and flaring light — was all that could be hoped for."
“Beethoven. Fifth. Heard so many times before. But not like this. Great is too small a word, because what Michael Francis gets his orchestra to do when it comes to Beethoven is nothing short of incredible. Beethoven’s famous 5th has not sounded like this in a very, very long time. Definitely not when played by the State Philharmonic. That’s something only giants can do.”
Michael Francis has quickly established himself as one of the leading international conductors of today. Appointed Music Director of the Florida Orchestra in the fall of 2014, he is now entering his sixth season with a contract extension through the 2024-25 season. His role in building a wide variety of transformative community engagement initiatives has significantly grown the organization. Since 2014 as Music Director of the Mainly Mozart Festival in San Diego, California with a contract renewal through the summer of 2023, he continues his ambitious multi-year exploration of Mozart’s life. Now in his second season, Francis continues as Chief Conductor of Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz. Previously, he was Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra from 2012-16.
Previous performances include the Cleveland Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, Symphony Orchestra of the Bavarian Radio, the Dresden Philharmonic, the London Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic, the BBC Philharmonic, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, NHK Symphony as well as the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan.