American conductor Michael Alexander Willens is the music director of the Kölner Akademie, based in Cologne, Germany.
He was educated at the Juilliard School in New York, where he studied conducting with John Nelson, and he earned his bachelor's and Master's degrees there. He studied with Leonard Bernstein at Tanglewood, and pursued choral conducting with Paul Vorwerk. His career has taken him across the United States, Europe, South America, and Asia, and he has guest conducted orchestras in Iceland, the Netherlands, Germany, Estonia, Poland, Brazil, Israel, Turkey, and Azerbaijan. Willens has a broad repertoire extending from Baroque to modern music, and he has taken a special interest in conducting the works of rising American composers. Willens has recorded extensively on the CPO, BIS, and Ars Produktion labels.