Michael Alexander Willens, artistic director and conductor of the Kölner Akademie received B.M and M.M degrees at the Juilliard School in New York, where he studied conducting with John Nelson. He has also studied with Jacques-Louis Monod and Leonard Bernstein. His broad experience has given him an unusual depth of background and familiarity with performance practice styles ranging from Baroque, Classical and Romantic through Contemporary. In addition to performing the standard repertoire, Michael Alexander Willens is dedicated to perfoming the works of lesser known contemporary American composers as well. He has appeared as a guest conductor in Germany, Poland, Holland, Brazil and Israel.