Uruguayan-born Carlos Kalmar was appointed principal conductor of the Grant Park Music Festival in 2000 and earned the role of artistic director in 2011. After his 25th season leading the festival, he will step down from the position in 2024. However, he is set to return periodically to the festival as conductor laureate of the Grant Park Orchestra beginning in 2026.
In addition to his work with the Chicago festival, Kalmar has also served as music director of the Oregon Symphony for nearly 20 years. In May 2021, he was named director of Orchestral and Conducting Programs and principal conductor of the Cleveland Institute of Music.
Throughout his tenure at the Grant Park Music Festival, Kalmar has greatly contributed to the festival's growth, largely due to his focus on incorporating both contemporary composers and neglected American works of the past in concert programs.
“I am so grateful for the extraordinary artistic partnership I have had with the Festival,” Kalmar said, “and will always love this orchestra and chorus, along with the audiences of Chicago.”
"Carlos has transformed the Grant Park Music Festival into one of the country’s premier musical institutions,” said festival president and CEO Paul Winberg. “It has been a great privilege to work closely with him over the past decade and support the Festival’s vision of sharing great musical performances with audiences of all backgrounds and means.”
After a year away, Kalmar will return to Chicago with the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus this summer. He will conduct the opening night Independence Day Salute, and lead performances with guest artists including Augustin Hadelich, Joyce Yang, and Vadim Gluzman.