Grammy Award-winning conductor Karen Kamensek’s expansive artistry coupled with her deep commitment for championing composers of the 20th and 21st century is reflected in her work in both the opera house and on the concert stage. Recently she made a triumphant return to the Metropolitan Opera to lead the Olivier Award-winning production of Glass’ Akhnaten—for which she won a 2022 Grammy—and was asked to step in at the last minute to conduct the company’s production of Verdi’s Rigoletto to much critical acclaim. Her ability to adroitly and simultaneously straddle this diverse repertoire is a testament to her remarkable versatility as a musician.
Ms. Kamensek’s 2022/23 season is one of no less than 10 debuts and several high-profile and welcome returns with a wide range of repertoire, including numerous world premieres by some of today’s leading musical voices. In August she makes her debut with the Norwegian Opera and Ballet leading Bernstein’s Wonderful Town. In September she returns to the BBC Proms, this time with the English National Opera Orchestra, for a unique project that combines music, dance, theatre, video, audio soundscapes and haute couture at Printworks London. Works by Handel and Philip Glass collide in a spectacle conceived by counter-tenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, which includes a world premiere by Philip Glass. Also in September, Karen makes her debut with the Calgary Philharmonic conducting a program that includes works by Debussy, Moussa, and Scriabin. The world premiere of Geoffrey Gordon’s Eolian, A Concerto for Harp and Orchestra with harpist Eline Groslot is on tap for her debut with the Brussels
in November. The program also includes works by Pépin, Glass and Debussy. Her debut with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in November will be punctuated by the world premiere of a Flute Concerto by Vivian Fung. Anna Clyne’s PIVOT and Holst’s The Planets bookend a program for her debut with the Pacific Symphony in November. She will lead Orchestre national d’Île-de-France for the first time in December in a program that includes arias and duets from Offenbach’s La Périchole, La Grande-Duchesse De Gérolstein, and La Vie Parisienne with soprano Anaïk Morel and tenor Loïc Félix. She begins 2023 with her first appearance with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at Royal Festival Hall in London in January with an eclectic program that includes the world premiere of The Peacock Pavane by David Bruce. She brings January to a close with her debut with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin at the Ultraschall Festival, for a program featuring York Höller’s Concerto for Cello, Piano and Orchestra with cellist Marie-Elisabeth Hecker and pianist Martin Helmchen. Her final debut of the season is with the Minnesota Opera in May when she leads the company in a production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, in collaboration with stage director Keturah Stickann.
Return appearances include the Tiroler Symphonieorchester Innsbruck in January, as well the English National Opera for a revival of Glass’ Akhnaten --the 2017 Olivier Award-winning production she first conducted with that company in 2016 – in March.
Ms. Kamensek served as the Music Director of the Staatsoper Hannover from 2011-2016. She has also served as the 1st Kapellmeister at the Volksoper Wien (2000-2002), Music Director of the Theater Freiburg (2003-2006), Interim Music Director at the Slovenian National Theatre in Maribor (2007-2008), and Associate Music Director at the Staatsoper Hamburg (2008-2011).
Frequently in demand as a guest conductor with many of today’s most prominent opera companies and orchestras, Ms. Kamensek’s recent opera highlights include her debut and return performances with the English National Opera in Glass’ Akhnaten and Satyagraha; her debut and return performances at the Metropolitan Opera of Glass’ Akhnaten and Verdi’s Rigoletto; her debut with the Lyric Opera of Chicago in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte; her debut with the San Francisco Opera conducting a new production of Floyd’s Susannah; and her debut with the Royal Swedish Opera leading Victoria Borisova-Ollas’ Dracula. Additionally, she made her debut with the Opéra National du Rhin in the world premiere of Glass ballet Alice choreographed by Amir Hosseinpour and Johnathan Lunn.
Recent orchestral highlights include a focus on living-composer Thea Musgrave for Ms. Kamensek’s debut with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic as part of their highly-lauded Composer Festival; a live-to-film performance of Miloš Forman's iconic Oscar-winning film, Amadeus, marked her debut with the Oslo Philharmonic; and performances of Philip Glass’/Ravi Shankar’s collaboration Passages with master sitar player, Anoushka Shankar, outlined her first performances leading the Britten Symphonia in the Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms, as well as with the Orchestre Chambre de Paris in the Paris Philharmonie.
Ms. Kamensek regularly collaborates with singers, directors, and instrumentalists from across the globe. She has worked with many renowned singers, including Joseph Calleja, J’Nai Bridges, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Andrzej Dobber, Elza van den Heever, Brandon Jovanovich, Thomas Johannes Mayer, Patricia Racette, Stuart Skelton and Klaus Florian Vogt. She has partnered with such groundbreaking directors as Guy Joosten, Harry Kupfer, Uwe Eric Laufenberg, Phelim McDermott, and Olivier Tambosi. She has led performances featuring critically-acclaimed instrumentalists such as Michael Barenboim, Gautier Capuçon, Renaud Capuçon, David Aaron Carpenter, Lynn Harrell, Louis Lortie, Olli Mustonen, Benjamin Schmid, and the “Jimi Hendrix of the bagpipes”, Carlos Nuñez.
**Karen Kamensek’s bio for the 2022/23 season must be used in its entirety unless granted permission by the artist to do otherwise.**