During a thirty five-year professional career as an opera conductor, Hal France has led organizations and performed with opera companies and symphony orchestras around the United States. In recent seasons his expanded activities include speaking and advocating for the arts. His positions include Executive Director of KANEKO (2008–2012), Artistic Director of Opera Omaha (1995–2005), and Music Director of the Orlando Philharmonic (2000-2006).
In 1981, he made his professional debut at Washington’s Kennedy Center. He served the Houston Grand Opera first as Associate Conductor and later as Resident Conductor over a four-year span. He has conducted performances for the New York City Opera, Seattle Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Santa Fe Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Calgary Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Chautauqua Opera, Minnesota Opera, Utah Opera and Symphony, Cleveland Opera, Dayton Opera, Shreveport Opera, Opera Carolina, Wolf Trap Opera, Opera Festival of New Jersey, Tulsa Opera, Portland Opera, Kentucky Opera, Hawaii Opera Theater and Orlando Opera.
Hal France has guest conducted the Orchestra Nationale de Costa Rica, Royal Philharmonic, the National Symphony, the New Jersey Symphony, the Richmond Symphony and the Jacksonville Symphony. In 1992, he made his European opera debut with the Royal Opera of Stockholm with a production of Maria Stuarda.
His 2016 conducting season includes Hawaii Opera Theatre for the Magic Flute and Rigoletto with Quinn Kelsey and the Beggars Opera at Lawrence University. In 2015 he performed Macbeth with the Chautauqua Opera, Showboat at the Portland Opera and the Magic Flute at Depaul University. 2014 included Mark Adamo’s Little Women, a double bill Pagliacci and Carmina Burana for Hawaii Opera Theatre and 33 Variations for the Blue Barn Theatre. 2013 included Ricky Ian Gordon’s The Grapes of Wrath for Northwestern University, Bluebeard’s Castle and Carmen for Opera Omaha and a return to the Central City Opera for Showboat.
Hal is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha where he teaches Opera Then and Now, Orchestra In & Out, Music of the People: The Classics and co-directs OpShop with Shelby Van Norstrand.
In partnership with the Omaha Conservatory, he has created a community education series titled 4 the Love of Music for music lovers and life long learners. This follows the 2014 opera education series For the Love of It at Joslyn Castle.
Hal France joined the Humanities Nebraska Board in 2015. A resident of Nebraska he has been involved with numerous community organizations including:
Blue Barn Music Festival
Habitat for Humanity Omaha’s Multi-Faith Music Festival
National Hunger Awareness Day Convocation
Nebraska High School Theater Awards Showcase
1200 Series Young Artist Nights at Omaha Performing Arts
Kountze Memorial Lutheran Food Pantry
Hal France served as the first Executive Director of KANEKO a non-profit organization founded by the artist Jun Kaneko and his wife Ree in Omaha, Nebraska. During a four-year tenure he was integrally involved in every aspect of the organization’s creativity based programming and infrastructure. While at KANEKO he promoted and helped design an extensive number of community partnerships, the Great Minds Lecture series, performances, exhibitions, workshops and educational outreach programs that brought people into a forum of ideas and collaboration.
His positions also include Music Director of the Mobile Opera, Lake George Opera Festival, and Opera Omaha before assuming the position of Artistic Director. He has been on the music staffs of the Glyndebourne Festival, Aspen Festival and the Netherlands Opera. He has degrees from Northwestern University and the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, was a member of the Houston Opera Studio and received a fellowship to study opera from the Juilliard Opera Center from 1976 – 78. He holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and an Admiralty in the Nebraska Navy from the State of Nebraska.