Karen Kamensek, conductor

Karen Kamensek


The 2018/19 season clearly demonstrates Ms. Kamensek’s remarkable versatility and expansive artistry. Making several high-profile conducting debuts alongside many welcome returns, her repertoire this season includes works by Philip Glass, Tansy Davies, Thea Musgrave, Shostakovich, R. Strauss, Mahler and Beethoven as well as a revival of English National Opera’s Akhnaten—a production, under her direction, that recently won the coveted Olivier Award in London.


Ms. Kamensek makes no less than seven conducting debuts this season. She begins the 2018/19 season making her debut with the Norrköpings Symfoniorkester in a concert that features selections from Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn and his Rückert-Lieder, with baritone Peter Mattei as soloist. She makes a first-time visit to the University of Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra that includes a performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9 and Schumann’s Symphony No. 2. A semi-staged concert of Bernstein’s Candide, in collaboration with director Thom Southerland, is on the program when she debuts with the Bergen Nasjonale Opera.  From there, she debuts with the Tonkünstler-Orchester for a collaborative program with jazz singer, Stacey Kent. With a focus on living-composer Thea Musgrave, Ms. Kamensek will make her debut with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic in two programs as part of their highly-lauded Composer Festival. Ms. Kamensek starts 2019 with a debut at the Royal Northern Sinfonia in Gateshead, England on New Year’s Day with a festive program including Strauss favorites. A live-to-film performance of Miloš Forman's iconic Oscar-winning film, Amadeus, will mark her debut with the Oslo Philharmonic. She makes her last debut of the season with the L’Orchestre Chambre de Paris in a special program at the Philhrmonie de Paris featuring Philip Glass’/Ravi Shankar’s collaboration Passages with master sitar player, Anoushka Shankar. Karen debuted at the BBC Proms 2017 with this program to much critical acclaim.

Ms. Kamensek returns to several orchestras and opera companies throughout Europe this season. Tansy Davies' Dune of Footprints and the orchestral suite "What Did We See?" from her opera Between Worlds are featured when Ms. Kamensek leads the Norwegian Radio Orchestra (KORK) as part of the Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival. Rolf Wallin’s Spirit with renowned bass guitarist Ida Nielsen, and a reprise of David Bowie/Brian Eno’s Warszawa—commissioned by KORK just two days after the death of Bowie and premiered by Ms. Kamensek in 2016—arranged by John Øivind Ness are also presented.  She returns to the Göteborg Opera Orchestra and Chorus to lead Orff’s Carmina Burana and Rachmaninov’s The Bells. A consummate collaborator, she returns to the Malmö Operaorkester to lead the ensemble and soprano Camilla Tilling in Strauss’ The Four Last Songs bookended by his Suite from Der Rosenkavalier and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5.


Ms. Kamensek makes her third return in three seasons to the English National Opera for an eagerly-anticipated revival of her and Phelim McDermott's Olivier Award-winning collaborative production of Glass’ Akhnaten—a production with which she will be making her Metropolitan Opera debut in 2019. Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, with soloist Fanny Clamagirand, and Montsalvatge’s Desintegración Morfológica de la Chacona de J. S. Bach are on her program for her return performances with the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine. Karen finishes out her 2018/19 season with a return to the Royal Swedish Opera to lead the company in Victoria Borisova-Ollas’ Dracula, a work she premiered with the Royal Swedish Opera last season, in collaboration with the innovative stage director and noted lighting designer, Linus Fellbom.


Ms. Kamensek served as the Music Director of the Staatsoper Hannover from 2011 to 2016. During her tenure as Music Director and Chief Conductor she led the ensemble in several new critically- acclaimed productions, including Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth von Mtsensk, Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and Puccini’s Il trittico, Bernstein's Candide, Glanert's Caligula, Janáček's Jenůfa, and Weber's Der Freischütz. She also led the Niedersächsisches Staatsorchester Hannover in 12 concerts throughout 2015-16 which featured the music of Mahler, Strauss, Dvořák, and Martinů, with such guest artists as Nemanja Radulovic and an electrifying season-ending artistic collaboration with the “Jimi Hendrix” and master of the Galician bagpipes and a cult figure on the world music scene, Carlos Núñez.


Ms. Kamensek has also served as the 1st Kapellmeister at the Volksoper Wien (2000 to 2002), Music Director of the Theater Freiburg (2003 to 2006), Interim Music Director at the Slovenian National Theatre in Maribor (2007 to 2008), and Associate Music Director at Staatsoper Hamburg (2008 to 2011).


On the concert stage, Ms. Kamensek has appeared as a guest conductor with many notable orchestras worldwide, including the Aalborg Symfoniorkester, Aarhus Symphony Orchestra, Bilbao Symphony Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, Bruckner Orchester Linz, Dortmund Philharmoniker, Duisburger Philharmoniker, Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra in Kuala Lumpur, Malmö Opera och Musikteater, Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Odense Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of Opera de Toulon, Orchestra of the MDR Sinfonieorchester Leipzig, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine, Orchestre National de Lille, Orchestre National de Montpellier, Orchestre National de Pays Loire, Orchestre Philharmonique de Marseille, ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien, Philharmoniker Hamburger, Philharmonisches Orchester Hagen, Real Filharmonía de Galicia, Saarländisches Staatsorchester Saarbrücken, San Antonio Symphony, Sinfonieorchester Basel, Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra Ljubljana, the Symphony Silicon Valley and the Tivoli Symfoniorkester.


Frequently in demand as a guest conductor with many of today’s most prominent opera companies Ms. Kamensek has led productions at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, English National Opera, Frankfurt Opera, Göteborg Opera, Israeli Opera, Opera Australia (Melbourne), Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen, Royal Swedish Opera, San Diego Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Volksoper Wien, among many others. Major highlights include her recent debut with the English National Opera in Glass’ Akhnaten with counter tenor Anthony Roth Costanzo under the direction of  Phelim McDermott; her debut with the San Francisco Opera conducting a new production of Floyd’s Susannah with soprano Patricia Racette; Britten’s Death in Venice; Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande; Lehár’s The Merry Widow; Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci; Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana; Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov; Puccini’s Tosca; Verdi’s Otello; and Wagner’s Lohengrin, among others.


Ms. Kamensek has collaborated with singers, directors, and instrumentalists from across the globe. She has worked with many renowned singers, including Johan Botha, Joseph Calleja, Michèle Crider, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Andrzej Dobber, Elza van den Heever, Brandon Jovanovich, Lise Lindstrom, Ambrogio Maestri, 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, Ida Nielsen, Anoushka Shankar, Benjamin Schmid and Tanja Tetzlaff.


Outside of the concert halls and opera houses, Ms. Kamensek can be heard on the recording of Glass’ Les Enfants Terribles, which was released on the Orange Mountain Music label in 2005. She has been featured in several books, including Hier Spielt die Musik!: Tonangebende Frauen in der Klassikszene by Brigitte Beier and Karina Schmidt, which was published in 2014. Holding a strong belief in contributing to the growth of the next generation of musicians, Ms. Kamensek has led such youth orchestras as the Hochschulorchester of the Bruckner University Linz, Hochschulorchester Köln, the Innviertler Symphonie Orchester, Orchesterzentrum NRW Dortmund, and the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz, Austria.


Karen Kamensek’s bio for the 2018/19 season must be used in its entirety unless granted permission by the artist to do otherwise.

For booking information, please contact:

ARSIS Artist Management GmbH

in collaboration with Michael Lewin International

Mag. Gabriele Trombitas 


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