In 2007, Schwarz was named music director of the Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina, having served as principal conductor since 2005. There he has expanded the festival's audiences to the largest in its history, enhanced education and programming (to include a composer in residence and three new concert series), and increased collaboration with An Appalachian Summer Festival, where he is artistic partner for symphonic music programming.
Schwarz is also noted for his success in building the strength of the orchestra; when he began directing the Seattle Symphony in 1983 it had 5,000 subscribers; as of 2008 it had 35,000. He also spearheaded the effort to build Seattle Symphony's new home, Benaroya Hall. However, his style of leadership and management of the Seattle Symphony has also been very controversial among some musicians there.
In 2011, the block around Benaroya Hall was named "Gerard Schwarz Place." A portrait painting of Schwarz by artist Michele Rushworth was unveiled and installed at Benaroya Hall in 2011.
Portrait painting of Gerard Schwarz painted by artist Michele Rushworth, oil on canvas, 80" x 50", Benaroya Hall, Seattle
His numerous awards include Musical America's Conductor of the Year in 1994 (the first American to win that award), 14 Grammy nominations, and 5 Emmy nominations (4 of which resulted in Emmy wins) for his performance of Mozart's Requiem on Live from Lincoln Center and performances with the Seattle Symphony on PBS. He received Seattle's City of Music Outstanding Achievement Award for 2010.