With clear artistic vision, subtle musicality and innovative programming, Courtney Lewis has established himself as one of his generation’s most talented conductors. The 2021/22 season marks his seventh as music director of the Jacksonville Symphony.
In the 2019/20 season Lewis made his debut with Manchester’s Hallé and the WDR Funkhausorchester in Cologne. During the 2018/19 season he led the Australian Youth Orchestra on tour, the Minnesota Opera in their returning production of Silent Night by composer Kevin Puts, conducted at the Aspen Music Festival and appeared with the San Diego Symphony and Louisiana Philharmonic.
In June 2018, the Kennedy Center and Washington Performing Arts announced Lewis and the Jacksonville Symphony as one of four orchestras invited to participate in 2020 SHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras. SHIFT was created to celebrate the vitality, identity and extraordinary artistry of orchestras and chamber orchestras by creating an immersive festival experience in the nation’s capital. During the 2018/19 season Lewis led the Australian Youth Orchestra on tour, the Minnesota Opera in their returning production of Silent Night by composer Kevin Puts, conducted at the Aspen Music Festival and appeared with the San Diego Symphony and Louisiana Philharmonic. In the 2019/20 season he made his debut with Manchester’s Hallé, and in 2020/21 he appears with the WDR Funkhausorchester and the Nurnberg Symphoniker.
Lewis’s previous seasons in Jacksonville have featured an expanded repertoire including Mahler and Sibelius cycles, Adès’s Asyla, Ligeti’s Piano Concerto and Andres’s The Blind Banister, while raising the caliber of guest artists with performances by violinists Anthony Marwood and James Ehnes, and pianists Lang Lang, Inon Barnatan and Jonathan Biss. In addition to initiating the return of opera productions with Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel in 2017 and Don Giovanni in 2019, the 2017/18 season featured Renée Fleming at the annual Gala, and Christine Brewer with Jay Hunter Morris performing selections from Wagner’s Götterdämmerung.
Since his debut in November 2008 with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Lewis has appeared with the Atlanta Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Washington National Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Houston Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, Louisiana Philharmonic, San Diego Symphony, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Lausanne Chamber Orchestra and Ulster Orchestra, among others.
As a young conductor, Lewis served as assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic, associate conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra and Dudamel Fellow with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
From 2008 to 2014, Lewis was the music director of Boston’s acclaimed Discovery Ensemble, a chamber orchestra dedicated not only to giving concerts of contemporary and established repertoire at the highest level of musical and technical excellence, but also bringing live music into the least privileged parts of Boston with workshops in local schools.
Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Lewis read music at the University of Cambridge during which time he studied composition with Robin Holloway and clarinet with Dame Thea King. After completing a master’s degree with a focus on the late music of György Ligeti, he attended the Royal Northern College of Music, where his teachers included Sir Mark Elder and Clark Rundell.