"Hirzer comes across as intelligent and knowledgeable. Efficient and clear in his conducting gestures, he led the orchestra with evident competence [and] impressive flair." - Calgary Herald
"Incredibly talented and energetic"
- Calgary Arts Development
Canadian musician Karl Hirzer is an emerging talent on the global stage of young conductors. Honing a passionate will to collaborate with musicians and communicate with audiences, he has garnered both critical and professional acclaim for his performances as a captivating presence on the podium.
Since September 2016, Hirzer has held the position of Resident, then Associate Conductor with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. He has been Guest Conductor with the Szczecin Philharmonic in Poland, Symphony Nova Scotia, the Regina Symphony Orchestra, and is a regular Guest Conductor with the contemporary group Land’s End Ensemble. American composer John Corigliano hailed a collaboration with the latter on a performance of his song cycle, ‘Mr. Tambourine Man,’ stating: “Mr. Hirzer brought a combination of detailed accuracy and intense musical feeling to the work, resulting in an absolutely marvelous performance.”
In the past, Hirzer has acted as Assistant Conductor for the National Academy Orchestra of Canada, and the McGill Contemporary Music Ensemble. He has also worked with the Orchestra Giovanile Italiana at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, and with the Gstaad Festival Orchestra as an active member of the Menuhin Festival Gstaad Conducting Academy. He was also a Conducting Fellow at the 2017 Cortona Sessions for New Music. A diverse musician and collaborator, he has performed with various renowned soloists such as Evelyn Glennie, Jonathan Crow, Chris Botti, Owen Pallett, Agata Szymczewska and many others. In the 2019/20 season, Hirzer has been enjoying taking on the additional role of Assistant Chorus Master with the CPO.
As an advocate of presenting new music to audiences in complement to canonical works, Hirzer’s repertoire ranges vastly from Mozart and Haydn, to Boulez and Lachenmann. He has conducted numerous world premiers, and is a champion of inviting audiences to discover the full spectrum of eras, nationalities, and experiences pervading the classical and contemporary catalogues. A steadfast educator, Hirzer was most recently on faculty as conductor and chamber coach at the 22nd Morningside Musicbridge program, in Warsaw, Poland.
His teachers have been Guillaume Bourgogne, Alexis Hauser, Boris Brott and Ajtony Csaba; and he has participated in masterclass sessions with Neeme Järvi, Leonid Grin, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Zsolt Nagy, and Chris Younghoon Kim.
Trained as a pianist, Hirzer holds bachelor's (University of Victoria) and master's (McGill University) degrees in performance, as well as an Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto Diploma, obtained at the age of seventeen. His piano teachers have included Ilya Poletaev, Bruce Vogt, Michael McMahon, Walter Prossnitz and Anne Wilson Unger. He was a winner of the Johann Strauss Scholarship Competition, funding studies at the Mozarteum Sommerakademie in Salzburg, during which time he studied in the class of Robert Levin.