Michael Alexander Willens, music director of the Kölner Akademie, studied conducting with John Nelson at the Juilliard School in New York, where he received B.M. and M.M. degrees. He has also studied with Jacques-Louis Monod, Harold Farberman and Leonard Bernstein at Tanglewood, and choral conducting with Paul Vorwerk. Willens’ broad experience has given him an unusual depth of background and familiarity with performance practice styles ranging from baroque, classical and romantic through to contemporary as well as jazz and pop music. He has conducted concerts at major festivals in Europe, North and South America and Asia, receiving the highest critical praise, for instance in Gramophone: ‘Willens achieves an impeccably stylish and enjoyable performance’. In addition to standard repertoire, Michael Alexander Willens is dedicated to performing works by lesser-known contemporary American composers and has conducted several world premières, many of which have been broadcast live or filmed for television. He is also keenly interested in bringing neglected music from the past to the fore and has made more than fifty world première recordings featuring such works as well as performing them in concert. Besides his commitment to the Kölner Akademie, Michael Alexander Willens has guest-conducted orchestras in Germany, France, Poland, the Netherlands, Brazil, Canada and Israel.