Music Director: Grand Rapids Symphony
Artistic Director: Bellingham Festival
Brazilian-born Marcelo Lehninger is Music Director of the Grand Rapids Symphony and was recently appointed Artistic Director of the Bellingham Festival of Music. In 2018, he brought the Grand Rapids Symphony to Carnegie Hall, its first performance at the famed venue in thirteen years. He previously served as Music Director of the New West Symphony in Los Angeles, for which the League of American Orchestras awarded him the Helen H. Thompson Award for Emerging Music Directors. For five years, Lehninger served as Assistant and then Associate Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, a tenure that included many concerts in Boston, Tanglewood and a highly praised debut at Carnegie Hall in 2011.
As a guest conductor, Lehninger has led some of the leading orchestras in the United States, including the Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Houston, Detroit, Baltimore, Seattle, National, Milwaukee, North Carolina, Indianapolis, Colorado, Charlotte, New Jersey, Jacksonville, Omaha, Chautauqua, Portland, Princeton, Hartford, Hawaii, Tulsa, Vancouver, Tucson, Toledo, and Fairfax Symphonies; the Florida, Louisville and Sarasota Orchestras; and the Rochester, Buffalo, Orlando, New Mexico, and Colorado Springs Philharmonics.
In Canada, Lehninger has appeared with the Toronto, Winnipeg, and Kitchener-Waterloo Symphonies, the Calgary and Hamilton Philharmonics, and the Symphony Nova Scotia.
European highlights include engagements with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Lucerne Symphony, Prague Philharmonia, Slovak State Philharmonic, regular visits to the Slovenian Philharmonic, including on tour to Vienna’s Konzerthaus, Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, and a tour with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra assisting Mariss Jansons.
He made his Australian debut with the Sydney and Melbourne Symphonies with his friend and mentor Nelson Freire as soloist. In Japan, he conducted the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony in Tokyo and the Kyushu Symphony Orchestra in Fukuoka.
Lehninger was Music Advisor of The Orchestra of the Americas for the 2007-08 season. In summer of 2008, he toured with the orchestra in South America, conducting concerts in Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. He has led all of the top orchestras in Brazil, and served as Associate Conductor of the Minas Gerais Philharmonic Orchestra, where he returns regularly as guest conductor.
Chosen by Kurt Masur in 2008, Lehninger was awarded the First Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Scholarship sponsored by the American Friends of the Mendelssohn Foundation. He was Maestro Masur’s assistant with the Orchestre National de France (during their residency at the Musikverein in Vienna), Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig, and the New York Philharmonic. In 2011, he participated in the Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview, organized by the League of American Orchestras, conducting the Louisiana Philharmonic, and debuted with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center as part of the National Conducting Institute in 2007.
Before dedicating his career to conducting, Lehninger studied violin and piano. He holds a Master's degree from the Conductors Institute at New York's Bard College, where he studied conducting under Harold Farberman and composition with Laurence Wallach. His mentors also include Kurt Masur, Mariss Jansons, Leonard Slatkin, and Roberto Tibiriçá. A dual citizen of Brazil and Germany, Marcelo Lehninger is the son of Brazilian pianist Sônia Goulart and German violinist Erich Lehninger.