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Vladimir has been a judge since 2018

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Vladimir Kulenovic

Bitter Jester Music Festival Judge

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, Mr. Kulenovic is currently the 7th Music Director of the Lake Forest Symphony. During his four year tenure, the Lake Forest Symphony has seen unprecedented growth in its 60 year history, demonstrated by earning critical acclaim, expanding its audience base, its season and budget, as well as recording its first ever commercial CD recordings, scheduled for commercial release in late 2018 on the Grammy Award winning Cedille Records label.

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. His U.S. guest conducting engagements include the symphonies of Alabama, Chicago, Columbus, Grand Rapids, Houston, Illinois, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Knoxville, San Francisco, South Bend, Utah, Winston-Salem, in addition to the philharmonic orchestras of Naples and Oklahoma City, and the Louisville Orchestra.

Worldwide, Mr. Kulenovic has appeared with the Basque National Orchestra of Spain, Beethoven-Orchester Bonn, Bilkent Symphony, Deutsche Kammerakademie Neuss, Leipziger Symphonie Orchester, Malaysia Philharmonic, Minas Gerais Philharmonic, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco, Orchestra Sinfonica de Espana, Orchestra Classica de Santa Cecilia, Romanian State Philharmonic, Slovenia Philharmonic, Taipei Symphony, Zagreb Philharmonic, Macedonian Philharmonic, and the Macedonian National Opera.

Festival appearances include Aspen, Cabrillo, Kuhmo, Round Top, Salzburg Mozarteum, and Verbier and critically acclaimed collaborations include such celebrated artists as Leon Fleisher, Mischa Maisky, Augustin Hadelich, Joaquín Achúcarro, Barry Douglas, Philippe Quint, Joseph Silverstein, Akiko Suwanai, Jean-Frederic Neuburger and Sasha Cooke. In 2012, Vladimir was awarded the Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Fellowship and the position of conducting assistant with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, where he worked closely with his long-time mentor, the late maestro Kurt Masur. He has also served as cover conductor with the Boston Symphony, New York Philharmonic, and Baltimore Symphony, and has assisted many illustrious conductors including Bernard Haitink, Zubin Mehta, Thierry Fischer, Sir Andrew Davis, Alan Gilbert, Andrey Boreyko, Marin Alsop and others.

Vladimir Kulenovic holds graduate 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, where he graduated summa cum laude. Among his numerous awards are the 2012, 2013, and 2014 Solti Foundation U.S. Career Development Grants, Bruno Walter Memorial Award, the Charles Schiff Prize for Excellence at Juilliard as well as the 2nd Grand Prix at the Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Paris. He was one of six top U.S. young conductors chosen by the League of American Orchestras for the 2013 Bruno Walter National Conducting Preview.

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