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. This season, as a testament to her remarkable versatility as a musician, she makes several important debuts. From Puccini’s Tosca with London’s Royal Opera House to the world premiere of Adam Schoenberg’s Cool Cat with the Los Angeles Philharmonic to Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Seattle Symphony and soloist Jan Lisiecki, each debut showcases her unique ability to adroitly straddle a diverse repertoire.
Ms. Kamensek’s 2023/24 season is one of no less than nine debuts and several high-profile and welcome returns. In addition to her first time leading the Royal Opera, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Seattle Symphony she will also make debuts with the Sydney Symphony, Kuopio Symphony Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Orquestra Filarmónica de Gran Canaria, Orquesta Sinfónica RTVE, and Colorado Symphony. In September she begins her season with Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine and Marsalis’ Violin Concerto in collaboration with violinist Nicola Benedetti for her debut with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. In October she appears for the first time with the Kuopio Symphony Orchestra in an eclectic program that features the Raschér Saxophone Quartet performing Philip Glass’ Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra. Also on the program are Camille Pepin’s Vajrayana and Schumann’s Symphony No. 2. She ends the calendar year debuting with the Royal Liverpool
Philharmonic presenting works by Strauss, Prokofiev, and Tchaikovsky in December. Following her debut at Covent Garden with the Royal Opera in February, she will then head to Spain for her debut with the Orquestra Filarmónica de Gran Canaria in a concert that includes Glass’ Itaipu and Waltons’ Symphony No. 1 in March. She makes two debuts in April. Her first with the Orquesta Sinfónica RTVE leading the ensemble in a concert featuring Gabriela Ortiz’s Antrópolis and Respighi’s The Fountains of Rome and his Pines of Rome. She will end the month with her debut with the Colorado Symphony in a performance of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with pianist Natasha Paremski as soloist.
In October Ms. Kamensek makes the first of her four returns in 23/24 leading a program that includes Anna Clynes’ This Midnight Hour and Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 with the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra in Sweden. She will also conduct Clyne’s work on a concert that features Glière’s Concerto for harp and orchestra in E flat major opus 74 with soloist Xavier de Maistre and Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5 for her return performance leading the Opéra Orchestre National Montpellier in April. In May she will return to Canada’s Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra to present a program that features Weber’s Bassoon Concerto with bassoonist Antoine St-Onge and Walton’s Symphony No. 1. Karen will bring her 23/24 season to a close with a return to the Tiroler Symphonierorchester Innsbruck in July.
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 performances with: the English National Opera in Glass’ Akhnaten and Satyagraha; Welsh National Opera in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking and Bernstein’s Candide; the Metropolitan Opera in Glass’ Akhnaten—for which she won a 2022 Grammy—and Verdi’s Rigoletto; the Lyric Opera of Chicago in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte; and the Royal Swedish Opera leading Victoria Borisova-Ollas’ Dracula. Her most recent debuts include the Opéra National du Rhin in the world premiere of Glass ballet Alice choreographed by Amir Hosseinpour and Johnathan Lunn and Bernstein’s Wonderful Town with the Norwegian Opera & Ballet.
Recent orchestral highlights include a return to the BBC Proms with the English National Opera Orchestra, for a unique project that combines music, dance, theatre, video, audio soundscapes and haute couture conceived by counter-tenor Anthony Roth Costanzo featuring a world premiere by Philip Glass. Her first appearance with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at Royal Festival Hall in London with an eclectic program that included the world premiere of The Peacock Pavane by David Bruce. 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.
Ms. Kamensek regularly collaborates with singers, directors, and instrumentalists from across the globe. She has worked with such renowned singers as 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 2023/24 season must be used in its entirety unless granted permission by the artist to do otherwise.**